Tuesday Aug 27, 2013

Keste Blog Series: Cloud Integration Success: Aramark Deploys Oracle Cloud Integration to Reduce Process Time from Days to Minutes

By Michael Beattie, Vice President and CIO, Aramark Uniform Services

Preface from Sri Ayyeppen, CTO and Co-founder, Keste:

In this blog series, I have been talking about how companies deploy cloud integration with Oracle SOA Suite to achieve significant business benefits. In the case of Aramark Uniform Services, which we'll cover here, the company initiated an enterprise-wide IT project to deploy an Oracle Fusion Middleware platform. They had a list of seven major projects that would leverage this new middleware foundation, including an overhaul of their accounts receivables (AR) processes. To that end, the company needed to automate the prospect-to-customer migration process to set up new customer accounts in Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) and perform credit checks. The solution called for an integration between their cloud-based opportunity management system, Salesforce.com, and their on-premise customer database within EBS. This project was a precursor to tackling the larger AR automation challenges ahead of them.

Michael Beattie, Vice President and CIO, Aramark Uniform Services:

Aramark Uniform Services is a global provider of uniforms and career apparel for the automotive, food, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. We serve over 300,000 businesses and offer rental and direct sales uniform programs to our clients. In early 2012, we called on Keste to conduct an on-site enterprise architecture workshop for our organization with a focus on leveraging the Oracle Fusion Middleware portfolio. They helped us identify solutions to several business challenges that we needed to address, such as automating our accounts payable (AP) invoicing process, eliminating our 3rd party AR billing vendor, and deploying a seamless single sign-on solution across all of our applications. Keste developed a roadmap for a fully integrated Oracle Fusion Middleware infrastructure that would lay a solid foundation upon which we could deploy solutions to address these issues.

One critical element for our overall project was to integrate an on-premise application with a cloud solution. Our sales team uses Salesforce.com to manage prospective customers from prospect to final contract signing. However, we stored our customer information in a legacy system called RAS and processed invoices through the AR functionality in our EBS system. To make the situation even more complex, we did credit checks in yet another SaaS system provided by DNBi. None of these systems were integrated, so the process to set up a new customer, conduct a credit check, and send an invoice took quite a bit of time and led to data errors. We needed a single source of truth for customer information and a streamlined method for converting prospects to customers so we could send invoices.

In a project that we called RAS-to-Oracle AR consolidation, we began by creating an interface between Salesforce.com and our EBS system using web services through our Oracle SOA Suite implementation. As prospects meet certain criteria in Salesforce.com, the SOA interface kicks off a message to EBS that creates a new Customer Party record. When the service agreement is executed, our Customer Desk builds out the Account in EBS, which now interfaces to RAS. Previously, sales support staff would update customer records manually in RAS. Then we would send a data feed from RAS to EBS to update customer records in the Oracle system—so we could process invoices. This new Salesforce.com to EBS interface eliminates the legacy system, the manual updates, and the RAS-to-Oracle data feed. We've integrated our on-premise EBS system with Salesforce.com's cloud application to get real-time data updates.

However, we needed to take this project a step further to automate the credit check process. Our next step was to integrate the EBS customer record system with our 3rd party credit service, DNBi. Using another Oracle SOA integration, EBS sends a message to DNBi to perform credit checks on the new customers and receives that information back into EBS automatically—and updates the credit terms in Salesforce.com. Before, employees would need to manually look up the new customer record in EBS, then log into the DNBi system and enter the customer information to look up their credit information. Finally, the person would go back into EBS to update the customer record with the appropriate credit data. This was a cumbersome process that took a lot of time and manual effort.

New process:

In fact, it took several days as we waited for the new customer record to be created and credit to be checked before we could send an invoice to a new customer. Now, the entire process is done in real-time. A prospect is converted to a customer in Salesforce.com, the new customer record is automatically created in EBS, and credit is immediately checked and updated in EBS via DNBi. We have eliminated our legacy RAS system, automated processes that were manual, increased employee productivity—and most importantly helped to shave time off our days sales outstanding since we can invoice new customers immediately.

And, if you are at Oracle OpenWorld this year, hear first-hand the details on Aramark Uniform Services’ implementation and get your questions answered live.

CON6102: Aramark Automates Oracle E-Business Suite Invoices with Oracle Fusion Middleware
Wednesday, Sep 25, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Moscone West, Room 2014

Add to your Schedule Builder

From Sri Ayyeppen:

Aramark has embarked on a transformational IT project to deploy an Oracle Fusion Middleware infrastructure. This cloud-to-premise integration is just one piece of the larger puzzle, but it is a critical one. Creating customer records and performing credit checks have to be automated—to speed the process, eliminate data errors, and streamline workflows. Without key integrations like Aramark's cloud-to-premise example here, the company wouldn't be able to tackle larger projects like optimizing their AR process and automating billing.

Is your organization in a similar situation? Are you struggling with manual processes that take days and could be automated with a SOA interface that connects two systems? I'd like to hear about your challenges. email: mailto:sri.ayyeppen@keste.com

About the Authors:

Michael Beattie, VP and CIO, Aramark Uniform Services

Mike Beattie is VP and CIO for Aramark Uniform Services headquartered in Burbank, CA. He has spent the last 15 years of his career managing IT organizations in companies of various sizes, from startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. Prior to joining Aramark three years ago, Mike was a member of the IT leadership team at Intel Corporation in Folsom, CA. At Intel, Mike held several roles including Business Unit CIO, Director of IT Strategic Planning and Director of IT Program and Project Management. He received his BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from the US Naval Academy and has advanced degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Business Administration. Mike lives in Burbank with his wife and two children.

Sri Ayyepen, CTO and Co-Founder, Keste

Sri Ayyeppen is chief technology officer (CTO) and co-founder of Keste, a leading worldwide Oracle solutions provider based in Dallas. As the CTO, he is responsible for leading teams delivering solutions with Oracle Applications, technology and infrastructure. His primary focus is on applications and business process integration through service-oriented architecture (SOA) technologies and highly available enterprise deployment with Engineered Systems and Oracle Cloud. Within this role, some of his key areas of responsibility include leading Enterprise Architecture team for Keste customers, driving principles and practices around creating best-in-class architecture leveraging present-day technology like enterprise software, business integration products and mobility.

Sri is a well-known industry expert and you can find him discussing IT on @SriAyyeppen and LinkedIn: SriAyyeppen

Friday Jul 12, 2013

My 15 Year Journey to The Truth

Editorial by Rick Beers

Rick Beers is Senior Director of Product Management for Oracle Fusion Middleware. Prior to joining Oracle, Rick held a variety of executive operational positions at Corning, Inc. and Bausch & Lomb. With a professional background that includes senior management positions in manufacturing, supply chain and information technology, Rick brings a unique set of experiences to cover the impact that technology can have on business models, processes and organizations. Rick will be hosting the IT Leader Editorial on a regular basis.

Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankee catcher and prognosticator once uttered: “You can observe a lot by watching”; a wisdom that can easily be adapted to “You can hear a lot by listening”. I was reminded of that during a recent CVC with an Oracle customer, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. For those not familiar with CVC’s, an abbreviation of ‘'Customer Visitor Center’, they are executive level sharing sessions between Oracle and individual customers. They are ideal opportunities for us to not only present Oracle’s vision, strategy and direction but also to sit back and listen to our customers’ perspectives and learn from them. And at times, pick up some insights we may have forgotten that can still be of value, which I was soon to learn.

The focus of this particular CVC was on Supply Chain Management, and it brought me back to my roots, before my career took an unexpected and welcome shift towards IT. I did a bit of research on this particular customer before the CVC and noticed that they were members of the Supply Chain Council, a global nonprofit organization whose ‘framework, improvement methodology, training, certification and benchmarking tools help member organizations make dramatic, rapid, and sustainable improvements in supply chain performance”. Organized in 1996 by Pittiglio Rabin Todd & McGrath (PRTM) and AMR Research, the SCC initially included 69 voluntary member companies, and I was fortunate to be among them as the SCC took shape. The SCC developed, and still maintains, the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model, which describes the business activities associated with all phases of satisfying a customer’s demand.

SCOR consists of 5 supply chain steps: Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return. The model itself is organized around primary supply chain management processes, and public and enterprises use the model as a foundation for global and site-specific supply chain process and technology projects, and for measuring their effectiveness.

Source: SCOR 10 Overview, Supply Chain Council

Which brings me back to the CVC. During my presentation I mentioned the SCOR model and I was asked my opinions of it. Not the type of question I had expected, given my current focus on Fusion Middleware as a transformational capability. But I listened, paused, dusted away the cobwebs and took a stab at it and in the process learned where I had been wrong 15 years ago.

I was a charter member of the SCC and had early input on SCOR’s ‘Plan, Source, Make and Deliver’ framework (‘Return’ wasn’t added until a later version). I had a fundamental disagreement which led to my eventual disinterest. I felt that Order Management’s front end processes were under-represented; that SCOR focused too heavily on the Fulfillment side and not enough on the Customer-Facing side (for example: the term ‘Deliver’). The response was that Supply Chain Management needed to focus on ‘execution’, not ‘customer management’. I thought this a big disconnect considering the way organizations were constructing their Order to Cash end to end processes through Enterprise Resourcing Planning systems (ERP), which were just beginning their proliferation in those days.

Within ERP, ‘Order to Cash’ encompassed both order management and order fulfillment (logistics). To illustrate, I found a logical reference model I created then to make my case:

In this view, customer facing processes such as Order Promising and Customer Response were part of Supply Chain Management; they simply had to be. Our direction at the time in creating tightly integrated end to end processes within ERP required it. There was no other way for these processes to be architected. This was short sided of course, as Tom Siebel would soon illustrate with Salesforce Automation and then CRM, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

The Supply Chain Council held firm though in their belief that the focus of SCOR should be on execution, and in the case of Order Management, only on those processes that lead to the creation and delivery of the product or service. I thought this wrong and essentially checked out of the SCOR creation process.

Well, I now see that the SCC was right on all levels. Customer facing activities should not be part of an end to end order management process; as we all found out, this creates an ‘inside out’ approach to customer management rather than ‘outside in’. Customer management became defined and limited by internal execution rather than by the need to develop and nurture healthy, sustaining customer relationships.

This condition gave rise to CRM in the late 1990’s. It was slow going for a while, since most of the enterprise systems industry was focused upon ERP’s broad-based roll-out in advance of Y2K. The next decade saw steadily increasing interest in CRM for relationship management as well as for customer marketing but there was one major flaw that prevented its practical usefulness within a supply chain fulfillment process: the lack of open integration through which processes could transact across CRM and ERP. Finally though, Service Oriented Architecture technology developed to the point where cross platform process transactions and information flows permitted the process rationalization of CRM and ERP’s order fulfillment processes.

Creating customer friendly and agile order management processes outside of ERP and integrating them in an orchestrated way into a single ERP system can be achieved by leveraging Oracle Service Oriented Architecture. But Oracle’s ERP (E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards) customers have the opportunity to achieve their future state now, with ‘Distributed Order Orchestration’, a Fusion Application, integrated through Fusion Middleware into their Oracle ERP.

The Supply Chain Council was right all along, and it only took me 15 years to understand. And all I had to do was listen to a valued customer to know the reason.


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