Discover modernizes ERP and transforms finance

July 7, 2022 | 4 minute read
Jonathan Burdett
Product Marketing Analyst, Oracle
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The first purchase with a Discover card was made for $26.77 at a Sears store in Atlanta, Georgia. That was September 17, 1985. 37 years later, Discover is a leading digital bank and payments partner, and the third-largest credit card brand in the US, offering a wide array of financial services: online banking, small business loans, home loans, student loans, personal loans, and payments services for small businesses.

“We have a relentless focus on prioritizing our customers, our payments partners, as well as our employees,” says Michelle Green, Vice President, Business Technology: Strategy, Transformation and Governance at Discover Financial Services. “Our mission at Discover is all about helping people have brighter financial futures.”

At the start of the pandemic, when many customers were struggling financially, Discover worked with them to establish easier payment terms.

“For us, it was all around prioritizing our customers,” says Green. “So we extended our payment terms. We waived fees for our customers so they could get access to their accounts and not have those extra dollars coming out of their accounts. For our traveling card customers, we had helped them navigate travel cancellations.”

As a financial services provider, Discover has tens of millions of cards in circulation, processing billions of transactions every year. With the sheer volume of data and transactions to process, the leadership team recognized several years ago that they needed the scalability of a cloud-based solution for their accounting and FP&A teams. Green was hired to oversee this digital cloud transformation.

“For us, it was really a straightforward decision,” says Green. “We had an enterprise-wide strategy of moving to cloud as well as simplifying our landscape.”

Prior to adopting a cloud-based solution, Discover’s finance department was running a combination of highly customized on-premises systems—seven of them, to be exact. “Our architecture was so heavily customized that people were using their own tribal knowledge to get done what they needed to get done,” Green explained.

After evaluating several vendors, Discover chose to implement Oracle Cloud ERP and Oracle Cloud EPM.

More than an IT project

Discover began the implementation process in February 2020, and they completed the program on time, in high quality, and under budget, going live on January 1st, 2022. “We did it remotely for 22 months and, in my experiences, I've always done technology implementations together in one physical space,” explained Green. “So for us to be working remotely in 22 months was just a miraculous feat by our As One team. I am so incredibly proud of them.”

The approach Discover took at the beginning of the program was a determining factor in its success. “Our program was all around pulling out seven systems and putting in our three Oracle Cloud Applications,” Green explained. “And you think it would start and end there, but for us, it didn't.”

From the very beginning, Green and her team viewed this massive project as more than simply an IT project or upgrade. They saw the cloud as an opportunity to create and sustain strategic value for our Discover enterprise.

“For us, when we did our data requirements assessment during the first four months of our program, our team identified some anticipated benefits,” she explained. “This is much more than technology. We're going to be able to access more data and higher quality. We're going to be able to do the value creation. Ultimately, the functionality and automation help us make more effective, enterprise-wide business decisions.”

The new cloud lifestyle

It didn’t take long for the new applications to make an impact.

“There's two things I look for in an implementation to gauge where we're at,” Green says. “The first is when people say the implementation was a non-event. The second is when people start giving unsolicited feedback that they're loving the systems. On day 15, post go-live, we heard both. We had people reach out to us to say, ‘Hey, loving the speed of the systems, we're loving the access to the data, and we're loving being able to tailor how we're engaging with the standard functionality.’ You don’t hear that often.”

Green is also excited about the quarterly update cadence of Oracle Cloud ERP, and what that continuous innovation means for her people. “At the end of the day, what we're trying to do is really make people's jobs easier. We’re seeing those efficiencies and the ways of working with that continuous improvement mindset. This is how we believe it's going to change our processes, further enhance our controls, training and ways of working. And our people are figuring that out now. And I'm just so proud of them for working through that.”

The importance of partnership

Green credits her amazing “As One team” at Discover, Oracle, and Accenture for finishing the program on time, in high quality, and under budget, despite COVID, remote working conditions, and racial injustices. “When you think about what each of us in our organizations and as humans were experiencing during that time, our team literally kept the program on track. For us to be able to say we delivered on time, under budget, and in high quality—it's amazing.”

Green advises anyone considering a move to the cloud to remember the big picture. “Please, whoever is getting ready to do a cloud implementation, don't think it's just taking out systems and putting other systems in,” says Green. “It's so much more than that. It's about the strong partnership. I'm proud to share that we at Discover view our relationship with Oracle as both a business partner as well as a technology partner.”

Going forward, Green and her team continue to reflect on their journey and the lessons learned along the way.

“We won the digital cloud transformation Super Bowl as one team,” she says. “There's a proverb that I love, and that was one of our guiding principles on the program for Discover, Oracle, and Accenture: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Together, we did both.’”

Learn more about Oracle Cloud ERP and EPM.

Jonathan Burdett

Product Marketing Analyst, Oracle

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