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Tom Crowe, CIO at PL Developments, knew that moving from an outdated Tier 2 solution to Oracle’s enterprise-grade applications would require restructuring of his IT staff.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.

Friday Jan 25, 2013

Dendreon Corporation Implements Oracle ERP, HCM, and Business Intelligence Solutions to Innovate and Grow with Jibe Consulting's Oracle Accelerate Solution for Life Sciences Industry

View the video.

Oracle Midsize Manufacturing Customer Komori America Upgrades to Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 to Support Strong Growth

To help standardize business processes and improve bottom line results across its operations, Komori America, the North American operations of Komori Corporation, one of the world’s largest printing press manufacturers, has upgraded to the Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 to help manage its financials, procurement, supply chain, projects, some customer relationship management capabilities such as call center operations, and time and labor.

Read the press release.  

Friday Jan 18, 2013

Oracle Business Accelerators Help Natus Medical Reduce Implementation Complexity, Cost, Risk and Time

Natus Medical, leading provider of healthcare products, worked with Oracle Partner NTT Data to implement Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 with industry-specific Oracle Business Accelerators, cloud-based rapid implementation tools developed by Oracle to get customers up and running on a wide range of Oracle Applications, both quickly and reliably.

Read the press release.

Friday Jan 20, 2012

Q&A: Jim Lein, Sr. Director--Oracle Accelerate, on Practical Approaches to Cloud Computing for Midsize Organizations

Jim Lein has worked closely with hundreds of midsize organizations since joining the JD Edwards team in 1999. Now senior director of the Oracle Accelerate Program Office, he has spent more than a dozen years with a laser-sharp focus on the needs of midsize organizations—and the ways they can leverage ERP solutions to produce value for their organizations.

 Click HERE to read the Q&A in Profit Online.


Tuesday Sep 27, 2011

Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies is now on Facebook

 

 Like it if you'd like...

Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies

Monday Aug 01, 2011

Oracle Announces 83 New Oracle Accelerate Solutions for Midsize Companies Around the World

Oracle Accelerate continues to expand.

Read the press release HERE

Register for the next Oracle Accelerate webcast, "Make the Strategic Move and Accelerate Your Business Growth with Oracle ERP", Tuesday Aug 9

 

Now is the time for many Midsize Companies to move to Top Tier ERP.

 I will be presenting an update on Oracle Accelerate and we will hear about Cell Signaling's deployment of Oracle ERP from their CIO, Russ Green.

Date:
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Time:
11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET

Click HERE to register.

Wednesday Jul 13, 2011

Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies at Oracle OpenWorld 2011

Here at Oracle, we've been planning for months for Oracle OpenWorld 2011, October 2-6.  This event just keeps getting bigger and better.

There are plenty of sessions and events of interest to attendees from Midsize Companies.

 My favorite Oracle Accelerate session is always the customer panel where we feature executives from Midsize Customers and their experiences with Oracle Applications.

 To plan your schedule, go here:

http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/midsize/oracle-accelerate-openworld-161761.html

Monday Jun 27, 2011

Oracle Announces the new Environmental Accounting and Reporting Solution for Oracle ERP

Oracle now offers Environmental Accounting & Reporting extends the capabilities of both Oracle's E-Business Suite Financials and JD Edwards Enterprise One family of applications.

Oracle Environmental Accounting and Reporting enables organizations to track their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other environmental data against reduction targets, and facilitates environmental reporting for both voluntary and legislated emissions reporting schemes. The solution manages this function from within the existing ERP system and utilizes Oracle Business Intelligence to provide immediate insight into an organization's environmental data to identify and manage CO2 and cost reduction opportunities-providing rapid ROI.

Click here to learn more: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/green/accounting-reporting-410442.html

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