Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Will the real Batchmaster please stand up?


From 1985 through 2000 Batchmaster software ruled the roost when it came to batch manufacturing software – especially for the paint industry. So what happened? What happened to the product and where does Batchmaster stand today?

Batchmaster currently is offered in two flavors – Batchmaster Enterprise by eWorkplace and Batchmaster Platinum by Sage. But how did we get there and what is the difference and why two Batchmasters?

Well I will shed some light.

Batchmaster was originally written in the 1980's by a company called Pacific Micro Software Engineering (Pacific Micro) and was owned by Randy Peck out of Seal Beach, CA. The initial product was called Batchmaster Plus and was a simple but effective laboratory management application written primarily to track master formulas and perform laboratory calculations that are pretty simple based on today's standards.

In 1992 Pacific Micro released a modular application and dropped the Plus from its name simply calling it Batchmaster. At the same time they renamed the company Batchmaster Sofware Corp (Batchmaster). This product offered modules for Inventory, Production, MSDS, Costing and the like. It also expanded its reach by integrating the industry leading accounting package at the time - Platinum DOS. Batchmaster handled the Production, Inventory, Purchasing, Order Entry and Platinum handled financials. This combination did rather well for Batchmaster and Platinum.

This was the time Batchmaster really expanded outside the paint industry and began focusing more broadly on batch manufacturing in general. Some say it was the beginning of the end – at least that is the opinion of many paint chemists.

In the mid 1990's it became apparent to most that Platinum was falling significantly behind the market in releasing their Windows product. So far behind that Platinum quickly relinquished its role as the dominant ERP solution to products such as Solomon, Great Plains and MAS 90. Platinum finally released a version of a windows product in the late 1990's but most would agree it was too little too late. The market had moved on and Platinum for Windows never really caught up.

Batchmaster was caught in this strategic mistake. The growing company had invested its future in the Platinum architecture of Pervasive.SQL and the look and feel of Platinum for Windows. With the sale of the flagship product Platinum (Windows and DOS) from the now public and rebranded Epicor (formerly Platinum Software Corp) to Sage (formerly Best formerly Sage) the writing was on the wall. For Batchmaster to succeed it must diversify away from Platinum.

While keeping significant development efforts in place to support Batchmaster Platinum – Batchmaster hired an outside firm to write an interface to Solomon. This ended up being a huge mistake and cost Batchmaster and others a lot of money. In the end the focus of Batchmaster was truly lost never to be recovered.

In 2000 Randy Peck (majority stockholder of Batchmaster Software Corporation) sold the company to an offshore development company interested in expanding its existing SQL based manufacturing solution (Optipro) into the batch manufacturing arena. They purchased all the assets and marketing rights to Batchmaster and began work converting their discrete product Optipro into a batch manufacturing solution to replace Batchmaster.

After one year of development and little to show for its efforts eWorkplace sold the Batchmaster Platinum product to Best. This move finally put Batchmaster Platinum and its 3,000 users together with the ERP solution – Platinum for Windows.

The odd part of this transaction was that Best did not purchased the Batchmaster brand but only the windows product and the windows users. Best had a right to market under the Batchmaster name for a limited time. That time has since run out and eWorkplace maintains the marketing rights to a product they do not own – Batchmaster Platinum.

At the time of the sale of Batchmaster from eWorkplace to Sage eWorkplace did not have a product to take to market. They had experienced significant resistance from the market for a product that was written for an assembly company and morphed into a batch manufacturing product. That resistance continues to this day.

Through time eWorkplace released their Optipro product. Instead of branding the product Optipro they went to market calling this altered product Batchmaster Enterprise. To this day eWorkplace claims their Batchmaster Enterprise product is the Batchmaster product most users recall. Unfortunately that is not the case.

The true Batchmaster that has earned its name and following is actually owned by Sage software. Unfortunately for us in the batch manufacturing industry Sage relegated that product to virtual extinction and has not yielded much in the way of new features since they owned the product. In effect that product is now dead.

So there you have it. The story is told and you are left to decide which is the true Batchmaster. In the end it really does not matter. Neither product lives up their own hype nor to the core functionality Randy Peck put into the very first product – Batchmaster Plus.

I hope this help reveal the mystery behind the legendary Batchmaster.

4 comments:

John Houltham said...

Isn’t blogging wonderful? You can say what you like, and not declare your real interest and motives.
I’m not going to do that, I’ll tell you who I am! I am the Software Product Marketing Manager for the “Real BatchMaster”, and I am thrilled and flattered that we are attracting this level of attention.
Obviously we are doing everything right, and our growth is clear evidence of that!
Randy Smith & I were involved for many years on the Dealer Council for BatchMaster, but he has since become a founder and part-owner of a software compnay that is a some-time competitor of BatchMaster.

Randy’s “re-interpretation of history”, some of it based on an earlier malicious article, needs some correction.
- BatchMaster Enterprise, now BatchMaster ERP, was a complete re-write on an MS SQL database of the original BatchMaster. It was NEVER based on the OptiPro product, and I can verify that as I have been substantially involved in its development since the inception of the project. Lets hope our detractors can come up with something more imaginative in the future.
- BatchMaster’s push into other industry sectors was, of course, both necessary and a logical progression for growth. With the consolidation in the Coatings sector, no ERP vendor could hope to survive serving that sector alone. The experience we have gained over many different industry sectors brings a synergy to all sectors.
- By ensuring our growth through diversification into the wider process manufacturing industry, we are even better placed to continue to serve our Coatings customers. Indeed, we are currently upgrading several who have been with us for almost 25 years – and that’s a two-way loyalty that is extremely hard to beat in this day and age of the IT industry.
- The older BatchMaster for PFW product, based on a Pervasive database, was indeed sold off to Sage (Best Software at the time). It was sold for two reasons – it was an end-of-life product (acknowledged by Randy), and the sale generated the funds to accelerate the development of BatchMaster Enterprise. Its called “business”, Randy, and good business it was.
- I need to make another correction to Randy’s Blog as false information only does disservice to our community. It is a matter of public record that BatchMaster Software was purchased in the year 2000 by eWorkplace Solutions, Inc., a well established 30 year old California corporation and not by an “offshore development company” as alleged by my friend Randy.

As our number of new sites continues to accelerate, and our staff numbers continue to grow through the 200 mark, BatchMaster Software, Inc. is well-placed to serve all sectors of the process manufacturing industry in the next 25 years as we have for the last 25.

Many thanks for flattering us with your attention, Randy. You know I enjoy the challenge, and I am always willing and able to stand up for the “Real BatchMaster”.

My only advice to you is – catch us if you can!

Randy Smith said...

John,

It is always nice to hear from my friend in New Zealand. It is good to hear you are still in the formula manufacturing community and I am glad to hear you landed a position at eWorkplace. Congratulations.

You are right I am one of the founders of a formula manufacturing product. That product is called Vicinity and the company is Vicinity Manufacturing. You can see the link on my blog site.

I assume your comments are an authorized representation of eWorkplace on this topic as you are representing yourself as such.

The article was really intented to be factually based and attempted to show that there is clearly a difference in ownership and product between the Batchmaster affiliated with Batchmaster Plus, Batchmaster DOS and Batchmaster PFW from any other product on the market - even with the same name. From your comments it seems I did a fair to reasonable job communicating some pretty confusing set of facts.

There is a great deal of confusion caused by two software products being called the same name. This article was an attempt to validate that there really are two different products in the market with the same name - Batchmaster.

I never understood why a company would buy Batchmaster and not get the marketing rights to the name. Of course that is not the fault of eWorkplace but rather of Sage (Best at the time). It is just odd that is all.

It is also odd to me that a company could buy a product, own it for less than two years, sell the product and lay claim on being the original founder. That is what eWorkplace seems to be doing with the Batchmaster brand.

So in the end I think we can all agree that Batchmaster Enterprise is a completely different product than the Batchmaster most companies have been using for years - eWorkplace just calls it by the same name - which they have every right to do.

I think it would be a better idea to rebrand the name as to remove the confusion that eWorkplace has created in the market. I doubt that will ever happen but it would be good consideration for eWorkplace.

Best of luck to you on your new position at eWorkplace and I hope to see you in New Zealand soon.

raj patil said...

Nice Post !!!
I truly like to reading your post.
Post is very informative and all the points are very easy to understand. ERP software is must needed for our buisness.
batch manufacturing software provides a compelling gateway for information users who need to carry out their
jobs more effectively and assist them with decision supportThanks for sharing such a nice post...

Dbcomp said...

Thanks for sharing such a useful and informative post.
Sage Manufacturing

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