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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

CTB is feeding the world with help from Oracle Cloud ERP

Rudolph Lukez
Director, ERP Product Marketing, Oracle

CTB Inc. is on a mission to feed the world by developing innovative products that help farms and farmers across the globe. As a core principle, the agriculture equipment fabricator and technology supplier works hard to get the most out of its available resources; it squeezed more than two decades of service from its on-premises JD Edwards World (JDE) ERP system. When it came time to explore a new enterprise system, CTB sought a cloud ERP it could rely on for many decades.

A need for speed, scale, and smarts

Over its seven-decade history, CTB has grown from a local manufacturer to an over $1 billion global enterprise. Its product lines include industrial-scale agricultural equipment, environmental control systems, farming software, food production consulting and training. To meet its growing global demand for increasingly complex technologies, CTB needed enterprise capabilities and scalability that only a single-suite, cloud-based ERP could provide.

“While JDE has served us well, one challenge we were finding was getting data out of the system quickly enough to inform decision-making,” says Rob Janek, CIO. “Our business users had to rely on the IT team to generate reports, and then once they got the data, they had to spend time checking it over. We were spending about 80 or 90 percent of our time and effort getting the data and 10 to 20 percent acting on it. We wanted to flip that ratio.”

An ongoing issue with their legacy JDE system was the volume of customizations and third-party software products required to meet CTB’s needs.

“One big challenge was finding programmers who could support our existing customizations,” explains Jennifer Leatherman, IT Business Solutions Director, a 30-year veteran at CTB. Many of the IT team’s longstanding members with legacy knowledge of RPG, a high-level programming language popular on IBM systems, are approaching retirement. CTB’s dependence on this language, which is not as popular with younger programmers, created additional risk and dampened IT recruiting efforts.

“It's hard to bring people in and teach them green-screen compared to what they're used to working with,” Janek notes.

CTB Inc. is known as an industry innovator, so they decided to take advantage of smart, AI-driven automation and other next-generation emerging technologies. Leatherman and Janek also realized that a transition to a cloud-based solution offered considerable advantages.

“In moving to a fully functional, fully integrated system, we’ll be able to lower ongoing cost by reducing the third-party software that we had added over the years,” Leatherman says. “This includes maintenance and support along with licensing.”

The road to migration

After reviewing several ERP software systems, including a possible upgrade to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, the company decided to migrate to a comprehensive Oracle Cloud solution. The applications encompassed Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Human Capital Management (HCM), and Supply Chain Management (SCM)—including Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Global Trade Management (GTM) and Transportation Management (OTM). The company had previously begun to roll out Oracle Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) for its online sales initiatives.

CTB is a company that takes the long view. “We've been on our previous software a long time, so we want to invest in a solution that's also going to be around for a long time,” Leatherman says. “We wanted to put something in place that can continue to grow along with the company.”

They also spent several weeks interviewing potential implementation partners and chose CSS International as their partner over the life of the project.

“CSS came in with a great deal of knowledge and experience to get the project underway quickly,” Janek says. “We're a small group and we all still have our day jobs, so having an experienced partner that can help us make the right decisions and keep things on track was invaluable.”

CTB began the migration project in November 2020 with a phased roll-out plan that extends through 2022. Leatherman and Janek expect that the built-in best practices, extensive functionality, and high configurability of Oracle Cloud could help them eliminate 300 RPG-based customization programs and eight third-party applications. This, Janek notes, will standardize business processes across the company and streamline future acquisitions.

Moving to quarterly updates and knowing the software will always be up to date is also a game changer. “We're excited that Oracle Cloud will let us move our IT team away from maintenance and focus more on high-value projects,” Janek says.

CTB’s business users are also excited to explore how Oracle Cloud can support innovation that furthers their mission of Helping to Feed a Hungry World.® “They’re looking forward not only to being more efficient, but also to making decisions with full confidence in the data thanks to a fully integrated approach. From this foundation, we hope to explore IoT, AI, and robotic process automation.”

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