Last month we caught up with Mark Symonds, CEO of Plex Systems, provider of Cloud ERP solution Plex Online. His company has become the “poster child” for the new ERP model – Software as a Service (SaaS model) for the manufacturing industry.
Mark joined the firm in 2001. He gave us a little history of the company.
The genesis of the product came from the 1980’s. Robert Beatty, the founder of Plex Systems, was head of IT at a mid market automotive parts supply company. Driven by the request from the company CEO to “fix the business”, Rob focused on delivering improved processes for the shop floor. The result was the company went from last to first in performance as supplier to the auto OEMs. Quickly a demand grew for the software Rob and his team had developed.
In 1995 the parent company created a new software company marketing and selling the software to other automotive supply companies.
Originally, the product was marketed as an on-premise solution written in Progress. As the company gained more customers they struggled with rolling out new versions containing enhancements requested by customers. They were being held back by the on-premise model.
In 2000, the company decided that a more effective model was a “Software as a Service” model. With this model they could more rapidly deploy enhancements to current and new customers.
In 2005 the company was sold to Apax Partners, a private equity firm, when the company founder decided to step away from the business.
In 2007 the company moved to subscription pricing. Since 2007 the company has grown 25% to 35 % per annum.
The company has had its roots in the automotive industry. Today 60% of their customers are in this industry. As the functionality of the product has grown the company has found its functionality appeals to other industries:
- Recipe management for food
- Inventory traceability for electronics
Today Mark is very excited about the future for his company. Many of the larger ERP vendors are announcing their versions of SaaS. The company system uses a “tenant” organization. Each user organization is a “tenant” in the SaaS system. A customer can have multiple tenants (locations, plants, companies). Plex has about 500 customers and 750 tenants operating in the data centers.
At Ultra, we have seen Plex Systems in many ERP selection projects over the past 5 years. As SaaS has gained more momentum in the industry, we have seen ERP selection teams and manufacturing industry management move from curiosity of the SaaS model to now – serious consideration. As the technology world migrates to “cloud”, we see Plex Systems as a leader with the SaaS model.