Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) takes careful planning and commitment. It also takes time and money to do it right. Implementations can be disruptive, with the time to the first “go live” milestone of ERP averaging 8.2 months. As a result, over the past several years, many solution providers have introduced many different ways to speed implementation. Yet while the majority go the route of templated, preconfigured solutions, Oracle Corporation has taken a different approach. Instead of preconfiguring a solution, it has built a set of next-generation implementation tools. Oracle Business Accelerators (OBAs) accelerate the process of implementing and manage the scope of the effort in order to deliver results to the business faster.
For all but the very smallest of companies, ERP and often other complementary enterprise applications have become necessary tools to enable them to compete on the global stage. While not all implementations are equally successful, doing it right can yield impressive results, including reductions in cost, and improvements in cycle times and delivery.
Mint Jutras defines World Class ERP implementations to be the top 15% in terms of results, progress against goals and current performance. World Class ERP implementations produce results such as:
- 15% reduction in operating costs
- 16% reduction in administrative cost
- 21% improvement in orders shipped complete and on-time
- 19% reduction in inventory costs
- 18% reduction in obsolete inventory
The numbers above are the average results experienced since implementing ERP by those with World Class implementations. While we might like to say these benefits were as a result of ERP, we all know that these kinds of improvements are gained only through a combination of people, process and technology. And “process” is the focus of Oracle Business Accelerators – both the implementation process and also the business processes the enterprise applications are meant to model, automate and streamline.
While there are no guarantees your company will see these kinds of impressive results, even the average ERP implementation at least produces single digit percentage improvements like those listed above, any one of which might be enough to justify the effort and achieve a return on investment (ROI). The goal of the Oracle Business Accelerators is to get to these kinds of results as soon as possible.
You will usually find fast start or rapid deployment solutions associated with ERP, but Oracle OBAs cover a broader portfolio of product categories. Today Oracle has 640+ OBAs available in 47 countries in the following areas of coverage:
- Oracle E-Business Suite (ERP)
- Oracle’s JD Edwards Enterprise One (ERP)
- Oracle’s Siebel Service and Siebel Marketing (CRM)
- Oracle Business Intelligence Applications
- Oracle Transportation Management
- Oracle’s Demantra supply chain planning
- Oracle’s Agile product lifecycle management (PLM) applications
In addition, Oracle’s partners offer Oracle Accelerate solutions for a diversity of segments such as aerospace and defense, high tech manufacturing, industrial manufacturing, automotive, professional services, engineering and construction, public sector (and many more). These industry- and country-specific solutions are available for most Oracle Applications including E-Business Suite, JD Edwards Enterprise One, Peoplesoft, Oracle BI Applications, CRM On Demand, ATG, Enterprise Performance Management, Siebel, Oracle Transportation Management, Agile, and Demantra. And, of course, Oracle says that the best Oracle Accelerate solutions are based on Oracle Business Accelerators.
Indeed Oracle’s use of the word “Accelerate” and “Accelerator” can be a bit confusing because if you go to www.Oracle.com/accelerate you land on a page talking about Oracle’s approach to providing business solutions to midsize organizations, emphasizing its comprehensive set of applications (including four different ERP solutions), its proven experience based on serving thousands of applications customers globally, its tools and its expert delivery ecosystem (hundreds of partners). It claims “Oracle Accelerate is able to deliver the best software in the world rapidly and efficiently, with minimal business disruption.”
But it is the Oracle Business Accelerators that bring the real substance and make its approach different and there is really no reason why these can’t apply to large enterprises as well.
In order to really appreciate how these OBAs work you need to see them in action. But that is not currently a self-service activity. To protect the considerable intellectual property (IP) invested in the OBAs, access to the actual tool is available only with an Oracle employee or authorized partner guiding the way. This only makes sense because to see the tool in action, you need access to the live tool itself, not a make-believe demo version.
So how does this tool speed implementation? First and foremost it helps you manage the scope of the project. Often an ERP project starts with a blank slate and a blueprinting process that clearly identifies current and desired business processes. The risk is for scope creep in filling in that blank sheet. OBAs replace the blank slate with a template of building blocks that is flexible. Think of it as a pyramid of needs with the lowest common denominators or generic business processes (that might vary only by country) at the bottom. Industry specific processes including industry compliance requirements are layered next, followed by company-specific processes that provide competitive advantage. Through this scoping process, the OBA customer is provided with both constraints (what it can’t do) and defaults (for what it can do). The entire scoping process is transformed from a design exercise to one of confirmation.
Once the scope is defined, you move on to selecting and configuring the business flows. These are familiar business processes like budget to approval, invoice to payment, procure to pay and order to cash. The customer selects the processes to be supported and configures them using a questionnaire in a simple check box format.
All this configuring happens in the cloud. The configuration tool is hosted in an Oracle data center. Once complete, the results are used to create a specific instance for the customer that matches the configuration. The end result is a normal instance of the software application, no different than if it had been configured without the tools, except that it is completed more quickly. It is not a skinnied down version of the software. It is not a “standard” configuration and it is not limited by anything except the constraints of the software itself.
For now, even though the configuration process is cloud-based, these tools are for on-premise implementations only. While OBAs would seem to be a great approach to cloud based solutions delivered in a Software as a Service (SaaS) deployment model, that would require OBAs specific to Oracle’s new Fusion applications and Oracle isn’t quite ready to talk about those “futures.” When it is, I suspect Fusion customers and prospects would be “all ears.”