Wednesday Apr 09, 2014

Yummy! KIND Snacks selects Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Demantra to Support Business Growth


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

Oracle and KIND Healthy Snacks issued a press release yesterday, "KIND Healthy Snacks Selects Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Oracle’s Demantra to Support Business Growth".

That's delicious news for several reasons.

First, KIND's  Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants bar (pictured above) happens to be my favorite hiking, biking, and skiing snack. It's scrumptious and when you bite into it you see exactly what it's made of, unlike so many other energy foods on the market. You have to be careful how you pack it though, as I've melted a couple in my backpack on hot sunny hikes.

The press release states, "After evaluating more than a dozen different solutions, KIND selected Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 and Oracle's Demantra to help drive efficiencies and achieve the flexibility required to capitalize on the opportunities presented by fast growth and an ever-changing marketplace". Since I'm writing a blog series on “The (R)Evolution in IT Buyer Behavior” I look forward to learning about how KIND went about their selection process.

And finally, I'm excited that this is an Oracle Business Accelerator project. Again, from the press release, " KIND used Oracle Business Accelerators and the Syntax Accelerate Methodology to reduce the overall project risk and increase the speed of their JD Edwards EnterpriseOne application deployment".

That's a lot of good news from one press release. I'll enjoy a KIND bar at the top of Evergreen Mountain on my mountain bike ride in Alderfer Three Sisters Park this evening, along with a few sticks of red licorice and maybe a micro-brew beer. I know...there's no accounting for personal taste.


Jim Lein evangelizes Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. He recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. He is based in Evergreen, Colorado and loves relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. 





Wednesday Oct 09, 2013

When It Comes to ERP-Nobody Likes Surprises

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

I joined JD Edwards in 1999 and quickly learned a few ground rules. Think thrice before using the word “easy” to describe anything about ERP. The only constant in ERP is change. And customers hate surprises.


Syntax—Specializing in Oracle JD Edwards and Oracle Accelerate From the Get-Go

From the beginnings, Oracle JD Edwards enterprise applications have been known for having deep industry functionality and for being THE low risk and low TCO Top Tier option. Recently, I caught up with Gary Shaffran, Sr. Vice President and Co-Owner at Syntax, an Oracle Accelerate Partner and Platinum level partner in Oracle PartnerNetwork.

Syntax was founded in Toronto in 1972. Gary joined the company in 1981 and was part of the executive team that made the decision to hitch its ERP consulting wagon exclusively to JD Edwards in 1996. The company was also one of the original Oracle Accelerate Partners dating back to when the program was launched in 2007.

"The most consistent themes we're hearing from our customers are that they want cost certainty and industry best practices," says Shaffran. “They don’t want to reinvent the wheel. From the start, the Oracle Accelerate approach has given our customers a reason to select Oracle’s JD Edwards with the confidence that they will get return on their investments quickly.”

Rigid Template--Bad. Configurable Template—Good.

Syntax’s clients want best practices but not at the expense of flexibility. They need assurance that the solution of choice will bring best practices to their organization but not shoe horn them into a stagnant template that locks them into one version of industry best practices.

“One company’s definition of best practices is different than another’s,” says Shaffran. “Smaller companies are smaller—not simpler. An old-fashioned template approach based on rigid industry best practices is misguided because it won’t take into account that every company is different.

In Shaffran’s experience, that’s why Oracle Accelerate Solutions and Oracle Business Accelerators are unlike anything else in the market. Syntax leverages the embedded best practices to get customers set up on starting point based on the experiences of similar companies. But from there, each company has the ability to tweak their processes within the system—without customizations—to meet their changing needs as they grow and adapt their businesses to changing market conditions.

“Today, customer expectations are more complex because their businesses are more complex,” adds Shaffran. “The Oracle Accelerate approach gets our customers to that starting point more quickly and with more cost certainty.”

The Oracle Accelerate Resource Library Helps Customers Visualize Success

Syntax’s consultants leverage the thousands of assets in the Oracle Business Accelerators Resource Library not just for the implementation but also as tools to help each customer understand what life will be like with their new solution. The end result, Shaffran says, is that the project teams aren’t blindsided by unexpected barriers to success.

“We use assets in the Resource Library starting with our first presentation and all the way through post go-live training,” says Shaffran. “Those assets—such as business flow models and videos—help customer visualize what the solution will look like when it goes live. They gain confidence that the Oracle applications and the project team can handle all the complexity thrown at them. They know they will get to a great starting place and that, as they get their hands on the software and start working with it over time, they will have the knowledge and skills to expand, adapt, and configure as need be.”

Staying One Step Ahead of the Curve

For decades, Syntax has closely paid attention to the needs of their clients and strives to stay one step ahead. They continue to augment their Oracle applications services with complementary tool sets and industry specific add-ons developed, maintained, and enhanced by their consultants for their industries they focus on. They become trusted advisers to their clients, helping them to develop actionable strategies for adopting new technologies such as Cloud solutions for which important factors like an integration strategy can be overlooked.

Shaffran emphatically believes there’s never been a better time to be an Oracle JD Edwards customer than now. The same can be said for being an Oracle Partner dedicated to a JD Edwards practice.

“Adopting the Oracle Accelerate approach has made us better able to demonstrate to customers that they can have best of breed software—leading edge, top right side of the quadrant—without incurring the risk and cost uncertainty normally associated with going that route,” says Shaffran. “We now have offerings that fit the needs of any company—compelling solutions delivering rapid time to benefit rolled up with industry specific capabilities. Plus, we offer managed services, hosting, SaaS—the entire gamut of solutions. No surprises; all from one provider.”


Friday Sep 06, 2013

Don’t Miss the Oracle Midsize Sessions at Oracle OpenWorld 2013

Click here to see the Oracle Midsize sessions and activities taking place during Oracle OpenWorld in San Fancisco, September 22-26.

Wednesday Jul 10, 2013

The Growing IT Labor Shortage Post 5: PL Developments Relies on Time and Patience to Fill IT Roles

by Jim Lein, Programs Management Sr. Principal, Oracle Midsize Programs 

PL Developments is one of those companies that you’ve probably never heard of yet you’ve most likely consumed their products dozens of times. Based in Westbury, New York, the company packages and distributes private label over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as analgesic pills and cough, cold, allergy, and digestive remedies for some of the biggest and well known retailers in the United States. After experiencing double digit year over year growth for almost ten years, the executive team at PL Developments decided to replace Sage MAS 500 with KPIT Cummins’ Oracle Accelerate Solution for CPG. In 2011, the company deployed the Oracle applications without customization in just ten months, moving to industry best practices that come with the Oracle Business Accelerators. The use of Oracle Business Accelerators substantially reduced the time to value for the solution and the cost of IT resources needed during implementation.

Flexible Oracle Business Accelerators Facilitate Talent Decision Making Processes

Tom Crowe, CIO at PL Developments, knew that moving from an outdated Tier 2 solution to Oracle’s enterprise-grade applications would require restructuring of his IT staff. Prior to Oracle, he had six people filling roles in IT management, network administration, EDI management, report building, and help desk. During the implementation, Crowe relied on partner consultants to configure the applications based on guidance from internal super users—mid-level managers in supply chain, finance, and logistics.

“We really challenged ourselves to make decisions during the requirements gathering phase in order to adopt best practices,” says Crowe. “We loved Oracle Business Accelerators because they facilitated that decision making process and were flexible enough for us to be able to run our company with out of the box functionality. I knew those decisions would directly impact what IT roles we would need to fill so we waited to hire additional resources until after go-live.”

Keeping IT In House

Once they went live, Crowe sat down with the partner consultants to decide one by one what new IT resources would be needed. The goal was to become self sufficient, bucking a popular trend to outsource IT functions to managed services, in order to more quickly resolve outstanding issues. Crowe expected to add about half a dozen people, each with both deep Oracle knowledge and CPG business savvy. He has extensive experience in outsourcing some IT activities to overseas resources, most recently in Russia. Occasionally, Crowe farms out technical activities to overseas resources after having internal resources that really understand the business define requirements and scope.

Crowe cast a wide recruiting net across a heavily populated tri-state area and was soon disappointed in how long the hiring process was taking. On average, it took at least fifty resumes to get three applicants worth talking to. Many were asking for $25,000- $30,000 over the salary target while not filling the majority of the requirements. The technical skills of the candidates represented the greatest recurring gap. Crowe speculates that this was because they were a midsize firm competing for talent with much larger firms in the tri-state area and that so much technical training is now being done overseas.

“We were getting a barrage of people who said they had specific experience at the required level but when we dug deeper we’d find that they were nowhere near that level,” observed Crowe. “It was a bit discouraging at first.”

Perseverance Pays Off

Recruiting took a lot longer than anticipated, requiring PL Developments to rely on partner consultants longer than they wanted to but their patience was rewarded. Crowe is very satisfied with the way things turned out. He believe they are now self reliant because they cherry-picked the right people—new employees that wanted to work in a smaller company with a more intimate type of working environment. Crowe says that, if he were to do the project again, he would start looking for some of the specific talent earlier on, challenging the partner to identify what key roles would need to be filled upon go live.

“It’s harder now to find the right talent than it used to be,” says Crowe. “And I think that’s because we were looking for very specific job skills. There is more Oracle talent in the market place than just about any other vendor. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to find people with technical skills for many of the smaller vendor solutions.”

More in this series:

Post 1: The Growing IT Labor Shortage: Are You Feeling It?

Post 2: Want to Hire and Retain the Best Talent? Leverage Your Employees' Social Media Networks

Post 3:United Streetcar: America’s Only Streetcar Manufacturer is Back On Track

Post 4: Natus Medical Adopts a 3-Pronged Approach to Avoid IT Labor Shortage Pains

Oracle Accelerate AppCasts - Listen and Share:

Listen to an interesting conversation on Natus Medical Inc.'s experience with Oracle's Applications.


Friday May 17, 2013

The Growing IT Labor Shortage Post 4: Natus Medical Adopts a 3-Pronged Approach to Avoid IT Labor Shortage Pains

by Jim Lein, Programs Management Senior Principal, Oracle Accelerate Corporate Programs

Natus Medical recently went live on a broad footprint of Oracle products, deploying over 60 Oracle application modules in just ten months. The new solution replaced old versions of Baan (ERP, acquired by Infor Global Solutions), Clientele (CRM), Agile (PLM), PM10 (FP&A) applications. Bharat Poria, Sr. Director of IT at Natus Medical Inc, has almost 30 years of IT experience and was keenly aware of the impact this IT modernization project would have on the roles and activities of his staff. Poria chose to retrain his existing staff rather than hiring new employees to fill the IT business analyst roles.

“There is a growing shortage of skilled IT resources that have both the product expertise and the business knowledge to deploy and maintain modern IT systems,” says Poria.

Poria knew some of the existing staff would have to be retrained regardless of which new solution was deployed. Accordingly, he adopted a strategy that would mitigate risk and hasten staff retraining.

“First, we decided to choose just one vendor and one partner,” says Poria. “We chose Oracle because they had the complete solution including applications, middleware, database and a web front end making deployment and management worldwide easier. This approach also made it possible for us to work with just one partner—NTT Data—instead of multiple partners with expertise across the products of multiple vendors.”

A second key component of the strategy was to deploy NTT Data’s Oracle Accelerate Solution for Life Sciences. This enabled the use of Oracle Business Accelerators for the core Oracle E-Business Suite deployment in order to complete the project rapidly and adopt 95% of the best practices within the solution.

Lastly, Poria uses a hybrid approach to managing the new solution. Poria manages the overall on premise infrastructure and has one business analyst in each of three functional areas—finance, operations, and sales/service/marketing. NTT Data remotely manages the technical and functional aspects of the solution.

Poria doesn’t have a lot of extra time to ponder the cause of the current IT labor shortage in the United States. However, he offers several educated opinions.

“Part of the problem is that American universities teach in a theoretical approach rather than a practical manner that provides students with knowledge of specific products,” observes Poria. “And technical universities outside of the United States train students on very specific areas of technology but they don’t learn the broader business side of things. Also, I believe that the economic downturn led to actions by companies that discouraged students from pursuing technology degrees. During those hard times it was easy to make layoff and offshore outsourcing decisions based on the numbers.”

Twenty years ago, Poria would have hired a business analyst and had them learn on the job what they needed to know about products. Today, he would look for someone with specific product expertise and teach them the business. Ideally, a new hire would have both product and business expertise but he says that’s hard to find.

“We need to get college students excited again about careers in technology, information flow, how a business operates and more importantly, business processes,” says Poria. “Oracle can also be a great training ground for graduates because of the comprehensiveness of their solutions. Oracle’s approach to complete solutions shows that they understand that the complexity is not in the products but in the collaboration—getting all the system parts to work together. Those collaboration skills are a great place for an IT graduate to get started and learn end to end business flows.”

More in this series:

Post 1: The Growing IT Labor Shortage: Are You Feeling It?

Post 2: Want to Hire and Retain the Best Talent? Leverage Your Employees' Social Media Networks

Post 3:United Streetcar: America’s Only Streetcar Manufacturer is Back On Track

Oracle Accelerate AppCasts - Listen and Share:

Listen to an interesting conversation on Natus Medical Inc.'s experience with Oracle's Applications.

Monday Oct 10, 2011

The New Oracle Midsize Resource Center is live

Visit the interactive Oracle Midsize Resource Center to learn why over 250,000 Midsize companies run their business with Oracle products.

The new Oracle Midsize Resource Center features content crafted specifically for the interests of Midsize Companies:

  • Whitepapers/Briefings
  • Customer success stories
  • Analyst reports
  • Oracle presentations

The content is updated frequently.  Currently, we're featuring an overview of Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies. Later this month we will be featuring Cloud Computing topics.

 Click HERE to register and gain access. 



Monday Sep 12, 2011

Download the new eBook on JD Edwards ERP Low TCO

JD Edwards applications were born in 1977 as the products of an independent company founded by three individuals who wanted to provide a more sensible and affordable alternative to existing accounting and distribution software solutions. Over the years, the company developed a loyal following of customers in organizations of all sizes and spanning many industries. Now, as an integral component of Oracle’s overall enterprise applications strategy, JD Edwards ERP suites—EnterpriseOne and World—remain viable and compelling options for midsize companies seeking a low TCO entry point into the entire family of Oracle application, middleware, and database products.

Download the eBook, "Oracle’s JD Edwards Enterprise Applications—the Low TCO, High ROI Option for Top Tier ERP" HERE

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