Key executives leave Lawson Software after Infor acquisition

Lawson loses a number of veteran product-development and support executives

Three key Lawson Software executives have left the company in recent weeks, just several months following Infor's acquisition of the company and the retirement of CEO Harry Debes.

Lawson veteran Dean Hager announced plans to leave his executive vice president job in a Twitter post last week. "It's simply time. 14 years and many changes. Its time to be still and reflect. No regrets. Big opportunity remains for Lawson team."

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Also gone is Larry Dunivan, formerly senior vice president of global HCM (human capital management) applications, a major product area for Lawson. In addition, customer support head Nancy Anderson has left Lawson, which is now referred to as an "affiliate" of Infor.

Hager, Dunivan and Anderson couldn't be reached for comment.

While post-merger personnel changes are typical, the loss of these particular executives is significant, according to analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research.

"Dean was a key driver of their architecture and strategy," he said. "In the enterprise world, next to [Salesforce.com CEO Marc] Benioff, he's probably one of the top speakers in the industry."

Dunivan "pretty much rejuvenated" Lawson's HCM strategy, while Anderson "was someone that customers really loved and trusted," he said.

"I think with any acquisition, it's really about making sure the key people are there building the products and supporting the customer," Wang said. Infor CEO Charles Phillips, a former Oracle president, has a great deal of experience with acquisitions, he added. "That's why it's interesting these people left. It doesn't mean there aren't great people left at Lawson."

"Both Infor and Lawson express their appreciation for Dean and Nancy's help with the transition of the two companies" after the acquisition, Lawson spokesman Terry Blake said via email.

Dunivan left earlier this month "to pursue other opportunities," Blake added. "HCM continues to be a strategic product for Lawson, has a strong road map, and continues to receive significant R&D investment as a growth opportunity."

Customers should not read too much into the executives' departures, according to another Lawson observer.

"I don't think there's much to make of it, other than they are probably cashing out," said John Henley, of the consulting firm Decision Analytics, in an email. "Dean's departure is the most troubling, although it's understandable. He's tired, he travels too much, and his family is hugely important to him."

The $1.8 billion Lawson acquisition served to put Phillips' stamp on the company after his arrival in October 2010, and also bolstered Infor's position as one of the industry's largest ERP (enterprise resource planning) software vendors after SAP and Oracle.

It also prompted speculation from Lawson's customer base over whether product development and support would suffer under Infor's ownership, given the company's reputation for running lean operations.

Also Monday, Infor announced that it plans to move its main corporate office from Alpharetta, Georgia, to New York, a shift that underscores the changes ongoing at the company. Some shared services, such as human resources, will remain in Georgia.

Infor plans to hire about 75 engineers and graphic designers for the New York office, on top of the 400 hires announced earlier this year, according to spokesman Dan Barnhardt.

The "Innovation Center" Infor plans to open "will focus on the development of new technology that spans our product portfolio such as the Workspace user experience and the integration of social applications in a collaborative environment," he said via email. "We want the best and the brightest working on our development team, and we are tapping in to the talent pool that has been built in New York."

Infor is continuing to develop the Lawson products and will augment them with Infor-led technologies, such as Workspace and the ION integration framework, Barnhardt said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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