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Cloud Computing

Open Minded

Overhead Door CIO Larry Freed heard about Oracle Cloud solutions—and knew opportunity was knocking.

by Aaron Lazenby

February 2016

If you have a garage door, chances are it’s an Overhead Door.

Snapshot

    Overhead Door Corporation

    Location: Lewisville, Texas

    Industry: Manufacturing

    Employees: 3,500

    Oracle products: Oracle CRM On Demand, Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud, Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite

Larry Freed

    CIO

    Length of tenure: Five years

    Education: BS in mechanical engineering; MS in manufacturing engineering, Syracuse University

    Personal quote/mantra: “A transformational journey takes persistence and a lot of patience. There is no giving up.”

More

The nearly 100-year-old company, based in Lewisville, Texas, is sprawling—with five operating units across the United States and Canada, manufacturing in Mexico, and even a plant in the United Kingdom. “You name the channel, we go to market through it. We’re in manufacturing, distribution, installation, and service,” says CIO Larry Freed. “We have a very comprehensive footprint, with thousands of dealers and distributors, and sell our products in many different ways from original equipment manufacturers to direct-to-consumers.”

When Freed first joined Overhead Door as CIO in 2011, the company had recently completed an acquisition of its largest competitor, Wayne-Dalton—a manufacturer of residential and commercial garage doors—becoming the largest manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of residential and commercial overhead garage doors and operators in the North American market. But rapid growth created some complications.

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“IT and business were somewhat disconnected,” remembers Freed. “Overhead Door and Wayne-Dalton both had separate 20-year-old systems, and neither was going to be the choice going forward. Our IT employees had different skill sets, different processes, and disconnected data. The organizations were having a tough time coming together because of how fundamentally different their operations were within the environments that they had.”

Here, he talks to Profit about how Oracle Cloud has helped to unify the company, streamline operations, and open new opportunities for the human resources department.

Profit: What drove your decision to move to Oracle Cloud?

Freed: Back in 2011, Overhead Door made a strategic decision to really go through an extensive multiyear enterprise resource planning [ERP] and business process transformation. When we went through our original evaluation and selection process for a new ERP system, Oracle came out on top. We acquired all the software, the infrastructure, and laid that in. It was all on premises, except for Oracle CRM On Demand.

Our first go-live was in September 2013. That year, at Oracle OpenWorld, representatives from Oracle’s human capital management team and Hitachi Consulting began to talk to me about moving to the Oracle Cloud platform, because they were looking for early adopters of their payroll solution.

Really, what was very evident from those conversations was that Oracle’s direction was shifting to the cloud. We were in a unique position because we were just beginning to enter the human resources phase of implementation, where we were focused on HCM with the need for payroll. From there, things moved pretty fast—we went live on version 8 of the Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud [Oracle HCM Cloud] suite in January of 2015 and we completed our upgrade to version 9 in May. We moved to version 10 in December.

Profit: Was the cloud a fit for your company’s culture?

Freed: There were the typical concerns around security and privacy: How can our employees’ data be accessed? What’s the level of due diligence that we need to go through to understand how it is protected? But no one said, “The cloud is not someplace we want to go.” We did the research necessary to make us feel confident that our move to the cloud was viable and would satisfy our requirements.

Everyone understood what it meant. Moving to the cloud meant that the application was being hosted externally, not internally. It meant that the organization hosting it—in our case, Oracle—was becoming an extension of our IT organization. We didn’t necessarily have to invest in infrastructure. HCM was becoming more of a subscription—an operating expense versus a capital expense. We were willing to be an early adopter because of the support we were going to get from our systems integration partner and Oracle.

Profit: How did you get your employees excited about the change?

Freed: We began a communication campaign quite early in the process to keep people aware of what was coming, when the changes were coming, and how they would be affected by the changes. For example, the majority of our 3,500 employees work in manufacturing locations on the shop floor and smaller sales and service centers. They don’t necessarily have access to a computer. So we put kiosks in all of our locations, making sure they were well lit, private, and had a printer so folks who went in there had the ability to view their pay slips, enroll in their benefits, and make any life-event changes. Some of our factory workers in Ohio are Amish folks that we had to introduce to computers.

We also put together training manuals for our managers and employees and quick-reference guides for folks to use. We prepped our help desk way before we went live to make sure that we were able to triage calls and emails quickly and route them to the appropriate people. And we measured how effectively we turned those types of issues around that were being logged.

One of our key objectives was to deploy the system without affecting our employees. It was a little rough in the beginning in terms of people getting accustomed to it, but ultimately, they embraced it and are using it today.

Profit: What benefits have you already seen?

We were willing to be an early adopter because of the support we were going to get from our systems integration partner and Oracle.”

Freed: Our new Oracle Cloud system is available 24/7. Before, when employees had life-event changes, they would have to fill out a form and go to HR. If an employee changed their bank account, they would have to fill out a form with HR. All of that is now online. We’ve eliminated paper, we’ve eliminated spreadsheets, and we’ve eliminated the back-and-forth emails. Our HR organization has completely changed, and has moved out of that administrative capacity to be much more of a value-add, strategic component of the organization.

Also, now we can now leverage data and the business intelligence capabilities that are available to get much better reporting than we ever had before. The data is in one place and it’s from a single source. And, since moving to a cloud-based platform, we get continual updates and are compelled to stay current, which is a good thing and something that we wanted.

Profit: How has this affected the ways in which IT interacts with HR and other lines of business?

Freed: Now, with the shift to the cloud, the burden of responsibility falls on the business. The head of each of the HR functions is now predominately responsible for the interaction with the software, the monthly patches and updates, and the major upgrades. IT continues to partner and provide support and gets involved when there’s a problem. In the past, IT engaged from a “best effort” perspective, or if our software was reaching its end of life, or if the vendor told us they were doing something different.

As we move into the next phase—from payroll to onboarding, recruiting, social sourcing, and learning management—we’ve re-energized HR. Clearly, it helps Overhead Door to be a much more relevant organization out there when it comes to recruiting talent into the business.

Profit: You also recently moved some of your call centers to Oracle Service Cloud. What drove that decision?

Freed: The point was to put three of our call centers on a single, unified contact center platform that the call centers could leverage, because they get north of 500,000 or 600,000 calls a year. Now, when a screen pops up, it identifies the caller before the agent picks up the phone. The incident is captured, and we have a single view throughout the service cycle.

For service and warranty repair, we can dispatch the incident to the closest dealer. Now, the agent can order replacement parts and check inventory online while the customer is on the phone. These are capabilities that agents never had before, and that’s made a significant difference. The agents like the tool, and within a little more than a week of going live, the team was self-sufficient.

Profit: What lessons would Overhead Door pass on to CIOs considering Oracle Cloud solutions?

Freed: First, do your homework. Understand what the application can do for you. Remember, it’s also about investment. Invest in the relationship with your hosting partner so you know how you’re going to operate with them going forward, since they are going to be an extension of your organization. Then, work with the business to help with that transition to a different way of doing things. Help the business understand that you will stay current. You need to have a very good change management process in place.

Make sure you have a good definition of the requirements that you want to realize out of the system. Continue to test, and make sure you set appropriate thresholds for what is an acceptable pass on your testing to make sure that you’ve exercised the heck out of it. We actually set up three instances: one for testing and development, one for production, and felt it was important that we have a third instance for payroll so that we could run our payroll in parallel. When you go live, you want to be very confident that everything is going to work within the parameters that you have set up.

Action Items
  • How ERP in the Cloud Drives Innovation (PDF)
  • Photography by Shutterstock