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.

Tuesday Nov 05, 2013

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too: Industry Best Practices + Flexibility


By Richard Garraputa, VP of Sales & Marketing, brij

Richard joined brij in 1996 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with degrees in Information Systems and Accounting. He directs brij’s overall strategies of both the business development and marketing departments.

Companies looking for new ERP systems spend so much time comparing features and functions of software products but too often short change the value of their own processes.  Company managers I meet often claim that they are implementing a new ERP system so they can perform better and faster.  When asked how, the answer is often “by implementing best practices”.  But the term ‘best practices’ is frequently used to mean ‘doing things the way everyone else does them’ rather than a starting point or benchmark to build upon by adding your own value.

Of course, implementing standardized processes across an enterprise is an important step in improving operational efficiencies.  But not all companies are alike.  Do you ever tell your customers “We are just like our competition and have no competitive differentiation”?  Probably not.  So why should the implementation of your business processes be just like your competitor’s?  Even within the same industry, companies differentiate themselves by leveraging their unique expertise and approach to business.  These unique aspects—the competitive differentiators that companies use to thrive in a crowded marketplace—can and should be supported by the implementation of business systems like ERP.

Modern ERP systems like Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne have a broad and deep functional footprint designed to integrate a company’s core operations.  But how can a company take advantage of this footprint without blowing up their implementation budget?  Some ERP vendors claim to solve this challenge by stating that their systems come pre-configured with ‘best practices’.  Too often what they are really saying is that you will have to abandon your key operational differentiators to fit a vendor’s template for your business—or extend your implementation and postpone the realization of any benefits.

Thankfully for midsize companies, there is an alternative to the undesirable options of extended implementation projects or abandoning their competitive differentiators.  Oracle Accelerate Solutions speed the time it takes to implement JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solution based on your unique business characteristics, getting your new ERP system up and running faster without forcing your business to fit a cookie-cutter solution. We’ve been a JD Edwards implementation partner since 1986 and we now leverage Oracle Business Accelerators—cloud based rapid implementation tools built and maintained by Oracle. Oracle Business Accelerators deliver the benefits of embedded industry best practices without forcing every customer in to one set of processes like many template or “clone and go” approaches do. You retain the ability to reconfigure your applications—without customization—as your business changes.

Wielded by Oracle partners with industry-specific domain expertise, Oracle Accelerate Solution implementations powered by Oracle Business Accelerators help automate the application configuration to fit your business better, faster. For example, on a recent project at a manufacturing company, the project manager told me that Oracle Business Accelerators helped get them to Conference Room Pilot 20% faster than with a traditional approach. Time savings equal cost savings.

And if ‘better and faster’ is your goal for your business performance, shouldn’t it be the goal for your ERP implementation as well?

Established in 1986, brij has been dedicated solely to helping its customers implement Oracle’s JD Edwards solutions and to maximize the value of those customers’ IT investments. They are a Gold level member in Oracle PartnerNetwork and an Oracle Accelerate Solution provider.

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 Jul 12, 2013

Modernizing the Little Red Wagon

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

I rescued my first Radio Flyer little red wagon from a dump in rural Minnesota when I was four. Some fool had discarded it simply because it was missing one wheel. We took it home and I helped my Dad MacGyver a wheel on to the rear axle from a tricycle that was beyond salvage. That wagon served me and my siblings well for another decade.

Steve Cox, Vice President of Oracle’s Midsize Programs, recently provided a guest blog post for softwareadvice.com. In it, he provides his perspective on how Radio Flyer—a 96 year old company—recently modernized their IT infrastructure with Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Demantra Demand Management.

Radio Flyer’s experiences have a lot in common with that of many other Oracle midsize customers. They are a growing company that needed to replace legacy systems with modern solutions and standardize on best practices.

Additionally, like other growing companies, Radio Flyer modernized IT to enable innovation such as their new “Build-a-Wagon” website featuring the first ever customizable wagon.

“By integrating our customer-facing website with our financial and value chain operations, we could speed order processing and minimize manual errors for personalized, one-of-a-kind orders,” says Radio Flyer’s Senior Director of IT, Tom Cesario. “Our Build-A-Wagon and Build-A-Trike features on radioflyer.com provide our customers a high touch and high tech way to interact with our brand.”

Read Steve's entire post here.

I guess my Dad and I were pioneers when we customized our Radio Flyer by slapping that tricycle wheel on it. Too bad we didn’t think to invent the internet at the same time. We could have teamed up with Radio Flyer and made our fortunes.

Thursday Jan 31, 2013

Radio Flyer Speeds Growth with Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.0

Rapid Implementation helps Midsize Manufacturer Streamline Business Processes with Modern Business Platform

Read the press release.

Monday Oct 15, 2012

Oracle Introduces Expanded Footprint for Oracle Business Accelerators for Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1

New Industry Solutions and Cloud Configurations Speed Time-to-Value for Midsize Industrial Manufacturers and Engineering & Construction Firms

Click here to read the full press release.

Thursday Aug 16, 2012

JD Edwards ERP Products Thriving under Oracle

Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) recently published a favorable report on Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne entitled JD Edwards ERP Products Thriving under Oracle.  In addition to a positive commentary on newly released JDE 9.1, analyst P.J. Jakovljevic cites JDE’s persistence over time as a strong customer choice. 

Click here to read the report.

Monday Aug 22, 2011

Download the Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies 'Focus On' document to guide your Oracle OpenWorld experience.

Are you a Midsize Company planning your schedule for Oracle OpenWorld?  The 'Focus On'  will help you zero in on suggested activities and sessions tailored to the needs and experiences of Midsize Companies

Download it HERE 

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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