Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

How A Century Old Company Is Building Its Digital Future

Lynne Sampson
Managing Editor

You don’t thrive in business for nearly a century by resting on your laurels. That’s what inspired a leading multi-industry company approaching its 100th anniversary to look to the cloud for innovation and growth into the next century.

Until recently, the company was running its global network of aerospace, defense, industrial, and financial businesses on a 20-year-old on-premises solution (Infor Lawson) that lacked the scalability and flexibility to support its growth. It was facing additional, high-cost infrastructure or maintenance investments to get what it needed out of the system.

Leaders and managers knew they needed a modern ERP that would be easy to use, functionally deep, and scalable. The company knew that it wanted a cloud-based ERP to achieve the scalability and flexibility the on-premises system lacked.

With its small finance IT team, the company wasn’t interested in making a large initial capital expenditure or handling constant upgrades and patches on its own. Moving to the cloud meant upgrades and patches would happen routinely and consistently without downtime, or the IT team’s intervention.

The challenge: over-customization and inflexibility

With the previous solution, the company had built customization upon customization over two decades. While this increased functionality, it also reduced flexibility and agility for adapting to changing business needs. The business needed a system that not only incorporated all the functionality of its customizations, but also supported additional growth. Specifically, they needed:

  • Expanded functionality: Many of the customizations involved importing and processing invoices and journal entries from third-party systems. The team wanted to ensure that any new solution would eliminate manual touchpoints for invoices and journals.
  • Improved reporting: The company sought greater flexibility for dashboards and reports, so that users could retrieve data quickly in a user-friendly format. It also wanted the ability to create custom reports without reliance on IT.
  • Increased security: The IT team found itself patching vulnerabilities in its on-premises system every few months. A cloud ERP with world-class security would allow the IT team to focus on more important projects, rather than constant upgrades and patches.
  • Greater connectivity: The company wanted a solution that would tie in seamlessly with its enterprise performance management system, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management, as well as other third-party software.
  • Streamlined transition: Finally, it was crucial that deployment of the new system not disrupt ongoing business.

The solution: Oracle ERP Cloud

The company chose Oracle because of its leadership in the cloud. Specifically, they were impressed with Oracle’s ongoing R&D investment in its cloud roadmap, including its quarterly product updates. The company partnered with Oracle Consulting Services to oversee the implementation and transition to the new system.

An important part of the transition was re-examining the company’s chart of accounts— incorporating best practices and standardizing procedures that had grown complex and outdated over time. Oracle Consulting took the time to understand the company’s current processes so that it could make informed recommendations for the transition to modern best practices.

Company executives were particularly concerned that the transition not disrupt normal business—specifically, quarter-end and year-end closes. The team devised a schedule that allowed forward momentum for both the project and the business. Oracle Consulting also provided onsite and offshore resources to ensure that work continued round-the-clock and was available for review and testing each day.

A smooth transition and significant time savings

The cloud deployment came in on time and within budget. With fewer on-premises systems, the company has been able to reduce the amount of both time and money it spends on upgrades. Amazingly, they reduced the time needed for testing and validation of ERP updates from nine months to a day and a half. The company plans to expand its footprint in Oracle's cloud environment, with Oracle Tax Reporting Cloud next on the list.  

Moving to Oracle ERP Cloud has positioned this venerable company for future growth. It provided the scalability and flexibility to make informed decisions at the speed required in today’s increasingly disruptive business environment.

Learn more about the story in this podcast.

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