Plex Systems

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Plex Systems, Inc.
Equity Venture Group Holding
Industry Software
Founded 1995
Headquarters Troy, Michigan
United States
Area served
Americas, EMEA, Asia-Pacific
Key people
Jason Blessing, CEO
Products Enterprise software, including: ERP, MES, QMS, SCMS, CRM

Plex Systems, Inc. is a software company based in Troy, Michigan.[1] The company is a holding of Francisco Partners Inc.[2] and develops and markets the Plex Manufacturing Cloud, a software as a service (SaaS) or cloud computing ERP for manufacturing.[3]

Company Overview[edit]

Plex Systems began as an internal IT project at an automotive parts manufacturer, MSP Industries Corporation, in 1989. The company was formed as Plexus Systems LLC in 1995, providing client/server manufacturing software based on Progress Software's database technology. The company began offering its software via the software as a service (SaaS) or cloud computing model when Plexus Online was launched in 2001.[4]

In 2006 Apax Partners made a strategic investment in Plexus Systems by acquiring a majority interest in the company.[5] In 2009, the company changed its name to Plex Systems and renamed its flagship product Plex Online.[6] On June, 2012, the company announced the acquisition from a group of share holders, including Apax Partners by Francisco Partners.[7][8]

Aberdeen Group suggested in its "Aberdeen AXIS: ERP in Manufacturing 2009” report that Plex Systems is among the top four performing ERP vendors.[9] Plex was the only ERP software solution provider placed entirely within the “Champion” performance category,[10] just ahead of SAP AG. There is evidence of Plex acting as a sponsor for Aberdeen Group[11][12] so this report from Aberdeen may be biased. However, other vendors evaluated in the same report are also sponsors of Aberdeen Group.[13][14][15][16]

Historically, the company has not released detailed financial information, citing its status as a privately held corporation. However, in May 2012, the company reported a revenue increase of 30.6% in the first quarter ending March 31, compared to a year earlier. Recurring revenue increased by 30.5 percent, representing the 19th consecutive quarter of growth."[17]

Plex has accomplished notoriety as the first provider of a complete SaaS ERP solution for manufacturing companies.[18] Several IT software bloggers have written about Plex’s ability to provide a wide scope of critical features for manufacturers in a SaaS model, where larger ERP vendors have not succeeded.[19][20]

In 2014, Plex raised $50 million in funding to support expanded product development, as well as investments in marketing and sales.[21]

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud[edit]

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud is a software as a service (SaaS) or cloud application ERP that attempts to manage and monitor the manufacturing process and support the functions of production, inventory, shipping, supply-chain management, quality, accounting, sales, and human resource departments, in addition to the traditional ERP roles of finance/accounting, procurement, human capital management, etc.[22] Plex is targeted towards manufacturing industries with rigorous traceability, quality and food safety requirements, including automotive, aerospace, food & beverage, and life sciences or medical manufacturing.[23][24] The system must be accessed using a web browser, making its functions available from anywhere with an Internet connection.[25] The software is designed to provide managers and engineers with real-time visibility to production data.[22]

While Plex Systems calls the SaaS solution "ERP", the software goes beyond the traditional boundaries of ERP to include the following integrated functions:

  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP): Plex Online supports traditional ERP accounting functions, including costing, accounts payables, accounts receivables, general ledger and financial statement generation; human resources and payroll; internal activities related to launching new products, conducting R&D projects and handling major engineering part revisions; and others.
  • Manufacturing execution system (MES) or manufacturing operations management (MOM): Plex supports MES/MOM functions such as production (pull) scheduling and Kanban scheduling; materials management; production control and process instructions; tool, production, scrap, and labor tracking; traceability and part genealogy; and CAD integration. The software includes native support for bar code labeling, wireless handheld devices, PLCs, weigh scales, packaging machines, and other common manufacturing and shipping equipment.[25][26]
  • Customer relationship management (CRM): Plex supports sales and customer relationship activities common in manufacturing industries, including quote tracking and order entry; release accounting and shipment tracking; revenue reporting; and others.
  • Supply chain management software (SCMS): Plex supports supply chain management functions such as electronic Kanban, online releases, EDI, electronic invoices and shipment notifications, online supplier quality management, cross-company inventory traceability, cross-company quality and production data, and others. EDI is integrated with customer orders, inventory, bar code labeling, packaging, and shipping.

Software as a service (SaaS) or cloud application[edit]

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud is built on a multi-tenant architecture. Software as a service (SaaS) (also referred to as cloud application) is an application delivery model in which the user accesses software over the Internet, from anywhere, at any time. The physical location and ownership/maintenance burden of the system that actually serves the software is outside the responsibility and concern of the end users.[27] Some IT professionals have expressed concern about moving ERP to a SaaS model. At the same time many companies have successfully performed such deployments with Plex Systems and other providers.[28][29] SaaS applications are deployed atop the platform layer of the cloud computing stack. These applications tend to be sold as a subscription, shifting the burden of the software cost across the useful life of the software, and trend to be accounted as an operating expense (OpEx). This is in contrast to traditional methods that require upfront payment or financing and tend to be accounted as a capital expense (CapEx).[30]

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