Wednesday Jul 23, 2014

Granite Rock: Ahead of the curve, On the road, & in the (private) Cloud


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize

The construction industry is known to be at or near the bottom of the rock pile when it comes to technology spending. However, there are signs that construction professionals now are looking to emerging technologies—cloud, mobile, social—to improve project productivity and profitability, enhance customer services, and gain competitive advantage.

Unlike many of its competitors, 113-year old California-based Granite Rock has leveraged technology for decades to stay profitable and competitive. Steve Snodgrass, CFO and CIO, has been with Graniterock about as long as the company has been an Oracle JD Edwards customer—more than 21 years.

“I can’t think of any piece of information that our operations managers need to run their business that we haven’t been able to get them,” says Snodgrass. “That’s information across all the lines of materials we carry and tracking costs down to the work order level.”

Flipping the Switch on a Long Overdue Project

This year, Snodgrass launched a technology upgrade project—to the newest version of Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solution for Construction—that is long overdue. The project was set to go several times but postponed each time for compelling reasons; including how hard the global recession hit the construction business.

Up until now, Snodgrass has provided information to operations via a complex combination of JD Edwards applications, bolt on solutions, and expensive custom applications.

“Back when we first implemented the current system, none of the technology vendors had all the pieces we needed,” observes Snodgrass. “There’s also mentality within the construction industry that, once you install a piece of software, you’re done. It just doesn’t work that way in reality.”

The upgraded system will continue to be hosted in a private cloud by Oracle partner Velocity’s Managed Applications Services. Snodgrass and his team are looking forward to the benefits the upgrade will bring.

  • Additional functionality—20 years of enhancements

  • An more intuitive user interface

  • User Productivity Kit (UPK)—to provide more consistency in end user training.

  • Consolidating to a single data base

“We’ve been like kids standing outside the candy store window looking at all the things we can’t have,” says Snodgrass. "You might say we entered that store for a package of Life-Savers and now we realize that there are many other pieces of candy to choose from. We're very interested in exploring JD Edwards' mobile capabilities once we've completed the upgrade."

Serving Dual Roles

It’s not often you’ll find one individual that wears both the CFO and CIO hats.

“Sometimes IT guys can lose focus,” says Snodgrass. “I’m always looking at technology like, ‘If we’re going to this project is it cost effective and how is it going to benefit the company? What is the return on this? Will we sell any more products?’ That discipline works pretty well when I talk to my guys. Generally it works.”

Snodgrass and his team keep tabs on the solutions being offered by vendors catering to the construction industry. Oracle JD Edwards continues to be their first choice, both for its functionality and its ability to provide a solid technology platform for everything they do.

“JD Edwards and Oracle grew up around mechanizing processes,” says Snodgrass. “They have this deep understanding of all the business processes. The JD Edwards model works for me pretty well wherever everything is so tightly integrated. That’s really where the strength is.”

Read more about Graniterock’s technology upgrade in this Oracle Profit magazine feature, “Rock Solid”.


Jim Lein

I evangelize Oracle's enterprise solutions for growing midsize companies. I recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. I'm based in Evergreen, Colorado and love relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

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