In Las Vegas, where acts like Cirque du Soleil® routinely perform what seems impossible, finance and IT teams at MGM Resorts International work their own kind of magic—supporting more than 15 properties in Vegas and across the US, so that customers never notice what they do.
If you’ve ever dined with a view of the stunning Bellagio fountains, taken your kids to the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, or caught Lady Gaga in concert at Dolby Live at Park MGM, your fun was powered behind the scenes by financial systems that process wire transfers, credit card data, vendor orders, and more.
It’s a job that presents big challenges. For example, MGM Resorts is really multiple industries rolled into one. “Our company isn’t just in one line of business,” says Lara Brooks, Senior Vice President, Finance Shared Services, MGM Resorts. “We have food and beverage. We have hotels. We have entertainment. And with that comes the challenges of getting information from various systems into our financial statements, plus understanding the data so we make the best decisions.”
Another challenge is supporting acquisitions. MGM Resorts has acquired properties in several places outside Las Vegas, such as the MGM National Harbor outside Washington, DC.
Besides supporting growth, finance and IT do their part to keep visitors coming back. “MGM Resorts has an experience for everyone,” says Emmy Kravetz, Executive Director of ERP. “Whether you’re celebrating your honeymoon or vacationing with the family, you’ll find something to do that you can’t find anywhere else. Strong financial systems help to make it all happen.”
But back in 2018, the company’s patchwork of systems, some of them nearly 40 years old, meant that all this magic was getting harder and harder to pull off. “Much of the time, we had to manually log into systems to find the financial data we needed,” Kravetz says. “It was inefficient and sometimes resulted in discrepancies. We needed more advanced features that let us better support the business.” That wasn’t going to happen with MGM Resorts’ legacy on-premises systems, which couldn’t connect to new applications and take advantage of automation.
MGM Resorts wanted to integrate systems, automate processes, and refocus employees on high-value tasks, so the team brought in technology consultants PwC. First, the combined project team mapped out the case for change. After looking at only replacing core systems such as financial closing and account reconciliations, the team realized the need for deeper change—enhancements that extended beyond technology into business processes. This level of transformation required a cloud-based ERP platform, and PwC recommended Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP.
“We looked at a lot of different systems,” says Rob Wargo, MGM Resorts’ Vice President of SOX Compliance. “Oracle offered a comprehensive solution to the challenges we faced: bringing all our data together, modernizing our financial processes and technology, and moving everything into the cloud.”
The initiative started by implementing cloud-based core financials, initially for all Las Vegas properties and later for other US resorts. As the project unfolded, technology upgrades and process improvements went hand in hand. “Using our old systems, we’d take, say, 15 steps to complete a task that should have really needed only three,” Brooks says. “PwC guided us as we modified business process, and Oracle supported our process with its cloud technology. We’re much more efficient now because we’ve simplified how we work.”
A good example is the way MGM Resorts handles wire transfers. Before, employees manually wired funds to gaming customers and vendors. Now, automation accelerates the process. “You choose a vendor and the system automatically knows everything about them and where the money needs to go,” Brooks says. “You don’t even have to think about it anymore. It might sound like a small improvement, but it makes a huge difference.” Another new piece of automation: ensuring casinos comply with company limits on how much they spend with vendors during a period of time.
“If our back-of-house employees have a better experience, then we’re giving a better experience to front-of-house employees who pass it on to customers,” Brooks says. “It’s important that everybody has the right tools and gets the information they need.”
Finance and accounting teams are now using these modernized tools to find data faster and serve customers better. Employees no longer have to access multiple systems to investigate charges when guests have billing questions, whether the charge relates to food, hotel rooms, or shows. Beyond being centralized, the information is available via self-service, giving employees more autonomy to solve problems and satisfy guests.
Employees in all departments now have greater data access. “In the past, only certain people could access financial data,” Wargo says. “With Oracle, we are able to support our entire user base, over 50,000 people. And our Property and Finance teams have the right access to the right data. Through Oracle Risk Management and Compliance Cloud and security operations reports, we’re able to control it down to the level of individual employees, which lets us mitigate risk and stay compliant, while helping people do their jobs.”
Cloud technology is making those jobs more rewarding too, with less time spent on data entry and other manual tasks and more time devoted to helping guests and making the business run better. Instead of just running routine reports and creating journal entries, employees can focus on data analysis and bottom-line enhancements. “It’s much faster now to identify issues and take corrective actions,” Brooks says. “When we were still operating on-prem, we’d have to wait a year or more before the next system upgrade.” With Fusion Cloud ERP, her teams get automatic quarterly upgrades that add new features.
“We have access to Oracle’s product development team,” Wargo says, “and it’s exciting to see our wish list built into new releases.”
With Fusion Cloud ERP in place, MGM Resorts is moving beyond finance to transform other functions. Supply chain is next. IT teams are collaborating with Oracle and PwC to bring Oracle Cloud SCM live in the near future and modernize tasks such as warehouse management, direct procurement, and inventory control. Chefs will utilize systems that automate ordering, making it easier to stock the supplies they need to dazzle hungry visitors.
“We have a lot of areas that can benefit from cloud technologies,” Brooks says. “Using them to transform the way we operate is the only way to support the business as it grows. When you look at what we’ve dealt with in the past few years—acquisitions, divestitures, and the pandemic—it’s clear we needed this platform for whatever the future holds.”
According to Kravetz, the key word is evolution. “My vision for an application is one that’s continuously evolving,” she says. “We need to listen to end users and make the changes that serve them best. It helps that Oracle does a great job of evolving their product and helping us expand on what we have in ERP.”
Ultimately, all the integrated systems and process refinements are meant to help the people of MGM Resorts wow customers. From wedding goers to retirees to trade show attendees, they come to MGM Resorts’ properties to escape the daily grind, enjoy the world’s best singers and comedians, and enjoy being treated right.
“When I walk through our properties and see the smiles on people’s faces, it’s validation that people really do need these experiences,” Kravetz says. “After COVID, I often heard people say they couldn’t wait to take their next trip. When they choose our resorts, it’s an amazing feeling.”
|“Oracle supported our process with their cloud technology. We’re much more efficient now because we’ve simplified how we work.”
— Lara Brooks, Senior Vice President, Shared Finance Services, MGM Resorts International
Mark Jackley is an Oracle digital content specialist.