By Margaret Lindquist
Bell vertical-lift products. Cessna and Beechcraft aircraft lines. COMMANDO Elite military vehicles. Since its beginnings in the early 20th century, Textron Inc. has grown into a multi-industry conglomerate and source of groundbreaking technologies and industry firsts. Over the decades, aircraft, rotorcraft, armored vehicles, electrical vehicles, and automotive systems have emerged from its product development pipelines.
For years, Textron’s corporate office relied on an aging system running highly customized software. “We were running an outdated solution on older, unsupported infrastructure,” says Kelli Gudz, Textron’s senior finance systems manager, noting that the company’s former ERP system was more than 20 years old. Gudz’ team supports Textron’s corporate office accounting department, which handles financial planning and analysis, audit services, treasury, and taxation and risk management along with the company’s Financial Shared Services Center. “We knew that to grow our business, to be scalable, we needed to find a solution that allowed greater flexibility,” she says.
We knew that to grow our business, to be scalable, we needed to find a solution that allowed greater flexibility.”–Kelli Gudz, Senior Finance Systems Manager, Textron
Facing these constraints, Textron’s IT and accounting teams first started along the path of merely upgrading existing systems. But the company had done many customizations and bringing those customizations along into an upgraded system was causing huge headaches. The teams decided that simply upgrading the existing system wasn’t an option.
Initially cautious about cloud technology, Textron’s executives decided to move to a remotely hosted infrastructure solution, partly to avoid the large capital expenditures related to constant software upgrades and patches. Gudz also wanted to eliminate the work of planning, installing, and testing upgrades—work that took away time and resources the IT staff could otherwise spend on enterprise and corporate initiatives. “We were looking for a system where my team wouldn’t have to spend every few months remediating vulnerabilities in our on-premises system. And we really wanted to reduce our customizations,” notes Gudz. Indeed, Textron’s previous ERP system was highly customized, even though the company was using standard accounting modules such as accounts payable, general ledger, fixed assets, and cash management. “There was no need to be so highly customized,” she adds. “By eliminating the customized solutions, we felt that we would be able to increase our ability to adapt to new business needs.”
The dollar amount in millions in charitable contributions in 2018 from Textron Inc., including its business units and the Textron Charitable Trust
With these priorities in mind, Textron’s IT leaders moved their business to Oracle Financials Cloud, including the platform’s general ledger, accounts payable, and fixed assets modules; Oracle Integration Cloud Service; and Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence.
Textron went live on Oracle Financials Cloud Release 12 on January 1, 2018. “It was a whirlwind,” recalls Gudz, noting that her team started the implementation process in September 2017 and went live within 14 weeks. “When Oracle told us that time frame was the standard, we were like, ‘Really? This can’t be done.’” But it could. An upgrade to Release 13 followed just six months later in June 2018. To ease the transition, Textron partnered with Oracle Consulting on the implementation (see sidebar), and Gudz speaks highly of her experience with the Oracle Consulting team assigned to the project. “We came together as a cohesive team to implement the system on time and on budget. It didn’t seem like a Textron team and an Oracle team. We all worked together with one common goal of implementing the new solution within 14 weeks.”
We were looking for a system where my team wouldn't have to spend every few months remediating vulnerabilities in our on-premises system. And we really wanted to reduce our customizations.”–Kelli Gudz, Senior Finance Systems Manager, Textron
Oracle Consulting also staffed the project with offshore employees who worked outside of US business hours, including configuration specialists (who focused on the conversion and initial setup of the environment), technical specialists (who developed Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher reports), and Oracle Integration Cloud Service development functional resources (who provided guidance on tax and fixed asset setups). This let Textron team members start their workdays with a new set of processes in the staging system to test and review.
What surprised Gudz most about the project overall? How quickly Textron was able to make the move, the smoothness of the transition, and how receptive the internal team was to the new system. “Both the business owners and the process owners were very pleased with how the end-to-end implementation went,” she says.
The number in millions of pounds of waste recycled through Textron’s sustainability projects in 2018
Working with Oracle Consulting, the Textron finance team made sure they were implementing the core functionality the business needed to make it a seamless transition cutover. Another pleasant surprise was the flexibility of the system. “Oracle provided built-in functionality, so we didn’t have to go off the path and customize. There was no disruption to the business,” Gudz says. As a result, Textron’s corporate office was able to stay operational and deliver what its internal clients needed to keep up with the business during the change. “We were skeptical that we would be able to do it within a 14-week period, especially moving off a system that we’d been on for over 20 years and learning new processes in that short period of time,” recalls Gudz. “But we did it, and after we went live, Textron management and the controller were extremely pleased with the success of the project.”
Photography by Oracle Digital Media Production and Textron
Margaret Lindquist is senior director of content strategy and implementation at Oracle, where she writes about technology disruption, industry challenges, customer experience, and the people and companies that are remaking the digital world.