An Independent HR & Payroll Software Review and Analysis
Throughout Lawson’s four-decade history, the original mission of founders Richard Lawson, Bill Lawson, and John Cerullo has remained at the heart of the company’s operation: "Provide the best business applications to customers by taking full advantage of the latest technologies." As to where that mission statement has taken Lawson, the St. Paul, MN-based software vendor now has a genuinely global presence, servicing 4,500+ customers in over 40 countries.
Furthermore, this “best” and “latest” philosophy has resulted in a number of accolades and favorable comments from analysts and commentators in the industry; notably Forrester and IDC have praised Lawson for providing solid (and in some cases vanguard) Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Capital Management (HCM) software solutions. This sort of reputation inevitably leads to growth and the first decade of the century saw a number of market movements:
- A merger with Swedish ERP provider Intentia in 2006;
- The acquisition of Competency Assessment Solutions, also in 2006;
- The purchase of Healthvision in 2010;
- A $70M investment in Enwisen (a competing HR software vendor) in 2010
A History of Expansion and Takeover
Currently owned by software giant Infor (hence “Infor Lawson”) the company history since inception has seen a number of key transitions and stages: from fully-customized, turnkey technology solutions in the 1970s; to open-architecture technology business systems in the 1980s; to web-enabled, industry-specific applications in the 1990s; to acquisitions and an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the 2000s.
However, despite this thriving technological evolution, the acquisition of Lawson by Infor Global Solutions and Golden Gate Capital in mid-2011 created instant caution in the perceptions of both current and potential clients, not to mention industry observers and pundits. Not so much the fact of the takeover, but the reality of who was taking over and the subsequent senior level changes at Lawson.
Still perhaps no other news instilled pause or cooled customer sentiment for Lawson more than the company's acquisition in June 2011—a move that sent shock waves through the Lawson customer base as well as the analyst community; not because of the actual fact that Lawson was acquired but rather who was taking over (and consequently who, from Lawson, would be leaving). The reputation of new owner, Infor is somewhat mixed. To some onlookers it is an investment house with a strong portfolio of business software brands while to others it is a business software graveyard. Established Lawson customers were immediately concerned that their software solutions would rapidly become unsupported and out of date. Furthermore, the change in ownership coincided with the departure of Lawson SVP, Larry Dunivan, whose move to rival Ceridian added to client worries as they wondered whether the new leadership would be up to the task.
Fortunately for Lawson (and Lawson’s current and future client base), Infor executives have belied the company’s reputation and shown a definite ‘helping hands’ approach, largely leaving Lawson to direct its own development. In addition to Lawson clients, Infor’s hands-off, silent partner role has been extremely positive for Lawson's partners—a community that includes channels (for reselling, implementation, and support in markets or geographies not supported by Lawson) to services (including system integrator partners, staff augmentation services, as well as direct services) to products (offering software and hardware technology which enhances or enables the Lawson solution).
Looking to the Future
Looking ahead, Lawson is now in a position to build on its history of applying technology to business. Supported by its partner network and the millions of end users that are depending on Lawson applications, and with healthy funding for R&D directed by fresh leadership, Lawson is ready to ‘rise again’, releasing new iterations of its payroll and HR software products and proving it's never too late for an old dog to learn some new tricks.
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