By Angela Mazza Teufer, Senior Vice President, ERP, EPM, SCM Europe at Oracle
There comes a time when a company is faced with what’s called a burning platform, when a critical piece of software reaches the end of its life and needs to be replaced. In 2019, Direct Line Group (DLG), a leading, U.K. based insurance company was dealing with just that - a soon to be out of support ledger system that involved too many manual processes, too few system upgrades and had no good way to connect with newer and better financial technology platforms. “Spreadsheets were holding the whole thing together,” says Neil Manser, DLG’s acting CFO.
DLG knew it needed to move to the cloud, which would make it much easier to increase automation, improve efficiency and put the onus on the software provider to regularly update its software as a service (SaaS). The fact that its previous programmes needed to be replaced also allowed the company to put new, bolder plans into action, says Manser.
A trusted and tailored technology solution is critical for the long-term success of any transformation project. That's why DLG wanted to implement Oracle – both its Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud (ERP) and its Enterprise Performance Management Cloud (EPM) – as it was already using Oracle’s on-premise solution. Both Oracle Cloud ERP and EPM integrate seamlessly with the existing Oracle system allowing for a rapid transition to the cloud. With the new technology, DLG is able to breakdown organisational silos, standardise processes and manage critical data on a single integrated cloud platform. By automating and centralising DLG’s key financial functions, the organisation is now able to increase productivity while reducing costs associated with traditional admin processes.
Critical to the project was finding the right implementation partner. With experience delivering large scale transformations enabled by Oracle Cloud and having also made Oracle a part of its own digital transformation, PwC was an obvious choice. “We know these systems end-to-end, we can make sure they perform to their full potential within our clients' business context,” says Tom Brown, Partner, Insurance and Asset & Wealth Management Sector Leader, PwC UK.
The implementation was delivered in two releases, the first of which took seven months and focused on the EPM components - financial consolidation, balance sheet reconciliation and enterprise data management. The second took 10 months, and went live in May 2020, deploying the ERP components with a big bang approach delivering new ledgers and sub-ledgers to support financial accounting and financial operations. This included claims payments, project accounting, asset accounting and data integrity reconciliations.
The project reached a critical point during release 2, when the world went into lockdown and threatened a stall to the transformation efforts. However, DLG were determined to complete its shift to the cloud, focusing on training staff on the new technology virtually and ensuring the team could use the software remotely, at least for the foreseeable future. “We had the mentality that nothing changes, that we keep the momentum and focus on the end goal,” explains Kenney. DLG recognising the importance of continuing its Oracle cloud investment at such an unprecedented time, was critical to the smooth implementation of the project and timelines.
The implementation has been a success. With standardised processes, automation of traditional admin and the ability to manage data from a single point of control, DLG has further enhanced its excellent internal controls and compliance. Not only this, the new solutions have also enabled faster and more secure payment processing. At a time where businesses are still facing unexpected change and with consumer behaviour at an inflection point, these infrastructure transitions are critical to helping maintain industry-leading customer service and support future growth.