SAP sends Oracle's JD Edwards packing at Hobby Lobby

The arts-and-crafts retail chain Hobby Lobby dumped Oracle's JD Edwards for SAP's ERP platform in part because Oracle discontinued support for EnterpriseOne 8.9.

When it comes to enterprise resource planning (ERP) scalability and support, Oracle's JD Edwards just doesn't cut it any more -- not for one Midwestern arts-and-crafts company, anyway.

Hobby Lobby Creative Centers announced today that it is dropping JD Edwards' EnterpriseOne platform for SAP ERP to manage the company's financials, human resources, and fixed assets operations. The Oklahoma City-based retailer and manufacturer is making the switch because of SAP's superior ability to handle the company's growing payroll and benefits needs, as well as SAP's incremental enhancements capabilities, according to Hobby Lobby CIO Jeanne Cotter.

For Hobby Lobby, what began as a one-shop operation in 1972 now stands at 440 retail locations in 32 states. The company employs more than 18,000 workers, but owing to its use of temporary staff and the retail industry's high turnover rate, it handles more than twice as many W2 forms every year.

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Cotter said SAP's more robust ERP platform should make managing Hobby Lobby's high volume of payroll and benefits data -- "everything that goes along with paying an employee," as Cotter puts it – a much easier proposition. JD Edwards just couldn't keep up, she said.

"For us, it was a growth issue. We were continuing to grow and we needed a larger, more scalable platform," Cotter said. "[SAP has] a broader platform for our organization, a little more strategic, than what JD Edwards had."

In a way, JD Edwards forced Hobby Lobby's hand. It recently discontinued support for EnterpriseOne 8.9, and Hobby Lobby was facing a costly, involved upgrade and extensive staff retraining. Cotter decided the time was right to explore other ERP platforms and was particularly impressed by SAP's "incremental enhancement" options.

Rather than forcing customers to upgrade to the latest version of its ERP platform in one fell swoop, as JD Edwards requires, SAP allows customers to implement new features when and how they choose. With only 45 IT workers supporting the entire company, this was an especially attractive selling point for Hobby Lobby, Cotter said.

"For the size of my IT staff, it was basically a good fit, where we can take bit-sized pieces and still bring benefit to the organization, but not stop everything and do a full upgrade," she said. With incremental enhancements, she added, Hobby Lobby can also expand its SAP platform to other parts of the company, like manufacturing, when the time is right.

SAP and Oracle have long battled for supremacy in the ERP market, along with Microsoft and others. Oracle acquired JD Edwards in 2005 when it bought out PeopleSoft, JD Edwards' parent company.

The competition for ERP customer wins is understandably fierce, and Cotter said SAP's "sunset" support capabilities also helped seal the deal for Hobby Lobby. "When you open a priority ticket with SAP, it moves as the sun sets across to other parts of the world that still may be able to work on the issue," she said. JD Edwards, she added, offered no such support.

Cotter said Hobby Lobby plans to start implementing SAP ERP within the next 30 days.

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