When companies are considering an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the short list usually includes SAP and Oracle. However, to many people’s surprise, Lawson Software offers an ERP system that has been ranked as the number one ERP software product for cost per user by the Aberdeen Group.
History of Lawson ERP Software
The company has started in the 1970s by Richard Lawson, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who developed a number of ready to use business management solutions for the IBM mainframe. By the 1980s, Lawson software was offering a number of general ledger and human resources packages and by the end of the decade, the company had expanded into the growing IBM AS/400 market. In the early 1990s, Lawson had branched into the client/server market and began offering ERP solutions that were developed for vertical markets, including healthcare, retail, financial services, and public sector.
Lawson Software became a public company in 2001 and began to acquire a number of smaller software companies in order to increase the number of offerings to customers. Those companies included Account4, Armature, Apexion, Closedloop, Keyola, and Numbercraft. As well as acquiring companies, Lawson extended their industry capability to include other service lines such as retail operations and supply chain management. In May 2006, Lawson merged with the Swedish ERP and e-solutions provider, Intentia. The combined company offers mid-market companies an alternative to the ERP solutions offered by Oracle and SAP. The current ERP solution offered by Lawson is split between two products, M3 and S3.
Lawson M3 Solution
The Lawson M3 solution is designed specifically to support organizations that have make, move, or maintain processes. Many manufacturing companies have constrained resources and have processes that are specific to their industry and can be complex in nature; the Industry specific Lawson solution is well suited to these businesses.
The application provides integrated business applications that cover core and supporting processes including financial management, customer relationship management (CRM), manufacturing, supply chain planning, and supply chain execution.
The current release, Lawson M3 7.1, features integrated industry-specific functionality and a commitment to open standards, for greater flexibility and lower cost of ownership than competing systems. The applications are designed to be implemented with relative ease and require less maintenance than other ERP solutions.
M3 7.1 was released in 2007 and is the largest release of the M3 series. It contained six new software modules including supply chain orders and a planning workbench for the fashion industry. The release also included IBM Websphere to support Service Oriented Architectures (SOA).
Lawson S3 Solution
The Lawson S3 application has been designed for services industries and their need for staff, source, and serve. The S3 software is focused on solving the business needs of a number of specific industries, including Healthcare, Retail, Public Services, Financial Services, and other service providers. The software is specifically aimed at helping service companies manage their supply chain and financial processes.
The software focused on the financial applications of a service company is called the Enterprise Financial Management Suite and covers a number of areas including; Budgeting and Planning, Project Accounting, Grant Management, and Expense Management.
In 2009 Lawson introduced two new analytics applications that can be quickly deployed to improve decision-making and find cost savings; M3 Analytics and M3 Analytics for Manufacturing.
M3 Analytics focuses on four key business areas: sales, finance, procurement and warehousing/logistics. M3 Analytics for Manufacturing provides additional manufacturing-specific analysis capabilities focusing on production and order costing processes.