Wednesday Oct 29, 2014

Fin, Feather, & Fur Outfitters Chooses Oracle to Drive Digital Transformation

How does a hometown sporting goods retailer compete with specialty big box giants? The answer is: you exploit their weaknesses. Ohio-based Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters has averaged 30-40% year over year growth since 2010 by doing what the big guys can’t.

Shawn Gilronan, CIO at Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters, was recently an executive customer speaker in an Oracle OpenWorld session devoted to strategies for adopting Modern Best Practice in high-growth organizations. Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by emerging technologies—Cloud, Mobile, Analytics, Social, The Internet of Things, and Big Data—to enable organizations to achieve more, faster and with less resources.

“We have built our competitive advantage by carrying a broad selection of branded firearms and accessories that closely reflect what are customers want to see,” says Gilronan. “We also take pride in our knowledgeable sales associates who are highly trained in programs sponsored by such top tier vendors as Sig Sauer, Rocky Boots, Columbia Sportswear, and Under Armour.”

Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters’ executive team knew that profitable growth could only be sustained by transforming the company from a local mainstay to one that can go toe-to-toe with industry juggernauts. As Gilronan guides the company through a “Crawl/Walk/Run” Oracle deployment strategy over three phases, the company could potentially be a case study supporting this MIT Sloan Management Review research, “The Nine Elements of Digital Transformation”.

Software Selection Via the 21st Century Good Ol’ Boy Network

“We knew we needed to change,” says Gilronan. “The systems we had weren’t scalable, reliable, and couldn’t cope with the volume of transactions. We knew we needed a ERP system with deep and broad industry capabilities to build a foundation on. Plus we also needed a robust front end solution for our cashiers to get customers in and out the store efficiently.”

Prior to deploying Oracle, Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters had no enterprise wide IT platform in place—something not necessarily vital to a company with just four stores, no shared services warehouse/distribution system, and no eCommerce presence whatsoever. Many non-standard processes and procedures were in place, born out of necessity, rather than formed out of intelligent, thought driven planning. High growth quickly exposed the deficiencies in the company’s existing IT systems. The company reached over capacity on system SKU’s. They experienced frequent system outages. The executive leadership team worried that sales revenue was being left on the table.

Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters’ customers prefer quality brands with reputations established over time amongst their friends and peers. Brands like Carhartt, Case Knives, and Smith and Wesson. Likewise, when Gilronan sent out a growth focused RFP, Oracle quickly rose to the top based on the local reputation of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne for finance and distribution as well as the industry penetration and well known ability of Oracle’s eCommerce solutions ATG and Endeca for eCommerce to support sustained growth.

“Oracle rose to the top for a number of reasons,” says Gilronan. “First, the robust distribution management capabilities in JD Edwards align well with our company growth model. Plus, Oracle offers a user-friendly application environment. And finally, our selection was based on a “best fit” approach in terms of using a local partner, the right cost, and the fact that Oracle and our partner aligned well with our company’s morals and values.”

The Outcomes of Digital Transformation

As identified in the MIT Sloan Management research, “Executives in all industries are using digital advances such as analytics, mobility, social media and smart embedded devices as well as improving their use of traditional technologies such as ERP to change customer relationships, internal processes and value propositions.” Also, “Executives are digitally transforming three key areas of their enterprises: customer experience, operational processes, and business models.” Not by coincidence, Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters’ digital transformation will dramatically impact all three of these key areas.

“Our customers’ experience will be enhanced by Oracle’s state of the art POS system, optimized inventories, and online purchasing options,” says Gilronan. “We’ll be adopting modern best practices for our industry with Oracle’s out of the box capabilities and standardizing training across all operations. Our business model will be radically enhanced by developing a compelling online presence and by tripling our number of stores and moving to building a modern warehouse and distribution facility.”

Gilronan expects dramatic ROI as the each of the three phases are completed. For the first time, managers will have integration between sales, inventory, and financial management. Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters has succeeded by accurately matching their inventory to their customers’ preferences but, without modern inventory best practices, that has resulted in high inventory carrying costs. With the adoption of Modern Best Practice for inventory management they’ll be able to perform detailed analysis to determine profitability at a more granular scale such as store square foot allocation by product and the carrying cost of products at the store level. Gilronan expects to reduce inventory levels by 30-40% even as they continue to grow dramatically.

“Our digital transformation will allow us to continue our organic growth model,” says Gilronan. “We’ll be opening many new locations and exploring new-to-us concepts without being impeded by technology. We’ll be a more formidable and direct competitor with larger big box stores.”

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.

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.”

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.

Friday Oct 19, 2012

New Oracle Tools Speed J.D. Edwards EnterpriseOne Implementations

CRN article by Rick Whiting on the new Oracle Business Accelerators for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne.  Click here to view the article.

Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies Customer Reference Booklet

137 global customer stories featuring midsize companies that have achieved success by deploying Oracle Applications and leveraging Oracle partner expertise, to enable their business to grow.  Click here to view the reference booklet.

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.

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.

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 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.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

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:



Midsize Blogs


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