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Providing Oracle E-Business Suite Support for an International Developer

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES | ANALYTICS ServiceS, MANAGED SERVICES OFFERING



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A leading international property development and management company needed assistance supporting legacy software while upgrading to Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12. What began as a support by TEKsystems’ off-shore team expanded to become a vital part of the client’s current operations.

For more than 50 years, the client has delivered property management services, development solutions, building, engineering and construction as well as project management to customers around the globe. The client has partnered with TEKsystems since 2006.


Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i and R12


International property development and management is a complicated endeavor. Organizations must manage the different regulations, currencies, languages and workforce requirements of many countries. An efficient, robust enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is critical for streamlining operations.

ERP systems require dedicated staff to maintain the system, resolve problems, and provide enhancements and customizations. But system upgrades, which technology changes make necessary every few years, are challenging and labor-intensive, taxing internal staff capacity. IT support teams must handle strategic decision-making, implementing and training on the new systems, and customizing them to work with their existing platforms—all while supporting the legacy software before the cutover. To handle the gap in bandwidth, many organizations choose to outsource support of the legacy software.


The client needed to undergo a major global upgrade from Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) R11i to R12. This would streamline operations, as the legacy R11i platform was heavily customized and increasingly difficult to support. In fact, it had generated a large backlog of problem tickets. The implementation would affect a range of functions, including finance, human resources and commercial billing.

At the time, the client’s Oracle implementation model relied on local teams within each region. But the client wanted to divert their two support staff to help roll out the new Oracle EBS R12 technology for a number of reasons:

  • Exposing internal IT staff to new technology would keep them engaged and motivated.
  • Permanent staff would learn the ins and outs of the software while helping roll it out, and thus become better prepared to support it.
  • Outsourcing support for the sunsetting software would allow the company to avoid expanding the physical footprint of their IT staff by having off-site contractors perform the work.
  • The client would not have to spend the time and take on the expense of recruiting and onboarding additional IT staff who would not be needed once the legacy software was retired.

To support the legacy software during the transition, the client sought a partner with Oracle expertise that could quickly take over support and start resolving the ticket backlog. They desired a managed services solution with these qualities:

  • A flexible partner that could provide a cost-effective support structure
  • A team that could take over the ongoing ticketing process and clear up the ticket backlog quickly
  • Above all, a partner that would ensure a stable EBS system capable of handling daily business operations before the upgrade cutover

The client met with local Oracle consultancies in London, and they proposed a fixed service model that did not meet the client’s desire for a flexible, cost-effective solution. Unhappy with the proposed solution and the vendors’ unwillingness to compromise, the client approached TEKsystems to see what we could offer. At that time, we had been a trusted staffing partner to the client for seven years but had not provided managed or outsourced services.


TEKsystems proposed an off-shore Oracle EBS support structure in which our team would remotely access the client’s systems and monitor their environment. We suggested a team of two dedicated Oracle resources, a functional business lead who understood the product set and a technical lead who would work in our Hyderabad Solution Center in India under the oversight of an associate director. Our London-based delivery manager and the Hyderabad team director would meet with the client’s IT manager monthly to review progress and make adjustments as needed.

Specifically, we would support Oracle R11i on the client’s core customized modules and address any problem tickets—backlog and current inflow—throughout the sunsetting of the environment until complete retirement. We would support interfacing between the core modules, and provide tailored support based on each individual module. Modules supported would include Oracle Financials (e.g., General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Cash Management), Oracle Project Accounting, Oracle iProcurement and Oracle iExpense.

For example, we would support the following activities:

Oracle R11i Module

Activity

iProcurement/Purchasing

Approval groups
Hierarchy maintenance

Accounts Payable

Transactions, holds, accounting
United Kingdom Construction Industry Scheme tax
Payments

Accounts Receivable

Transaction type setup/maintenance, accounting
Receipting

Project Accounting

Project costing
Project billing/revenue

For the initial knowledge transfer, we proposed using a phased approach. In the first weeks, we would work closely with the client’s support team to understand their processes and specific customizations to the legacy environment, and under their supervision, start resolving some of the problem tickets. Within six weeks, we would completely take over support for the legacy system.

As a value-add, we would employ a continuous improvement process, tracking ticket problem patterns, and conducting root cause analysis on recurring issues. This would allow us to help the client reduce the number of tickets by resolving underlying problems.

Uncertain about depending on an off-shore delivery team but pleased with our cost model and flexibility, the client chose TEKsystems as a partner.


The engagement proved so successful that the client eventually expanded our scope of work to include supporting the new Oracle R12 software, in more regions, and with a larger team.

Although the client had never used off-shore contractors, and worried about receiving inferior work or having communication difficulties, their concerns were quickly alleviated when TEKsystems’ team met—and then greatly exceeded—their expectations.

Within two weeks of kicking off the engagement, we were already surpassing our promised deliverables and milestones, including taking over full support for the legacy platform a month ahead of our six-week schedule.

Our team worked closely with the client’s stakeholders to understand the nuances of their Oracle environment, as the eight modules we supported had been customized. Although this knowledge transfer was supposed to take six weeks, we completed it in two and began working on resolving tickets earlier than planned.

Within the first 90 days, we resolved and closed over 90 percent of open issues while monitoring and addressing new issues. Because of our rapid problem resolution, the client was confident our team could handle support without risk and felt comfortable freeing their internal staff to focus on the upgrade implementation.

In addition to delivering results faster than promised, we worked under a continual improvement process model throughout the course of the engagement. For example, we undertook a root-cause analysis and designed a workflow fix that eliminated several recurring issues, helping reduce recurring problem tickets by 10 percent less than 90 days into the engagement.

The improvements led to a notable improvement in the user experience. Prior to our support, users had to create workarounds or submit tickets when they hit system glitches, whereas fixing the workflow allowed them to complete tasks on the first try. This increased user satisfaction and boosted the reputation of the client’s IT organization. Pleased with our success, the client handed over responsibility for managing the ticket queue without internal supervision and allowed our consultants to provide direct support to customers.

As the client’s trust in TEKsystems has grown, so has the scale and depth of the engagement. We have begun supporting the new Oracle R12 environment and extended support from the U.K. region into Singapore and Malaysia. Currently our team comprises nine resources, including eight full-time Oracle functional and technical consultants, and a half-time IBM Cognos developer / technical report writer. Beyond support, we have taken on some system enhancements.

Pleased with the success of our delivery model, partnership and results, the client has engaged us for an increasing range of projects, such as SharePoint development and Hyperion Business Intelligence support. We are also expanding upon the current success, building a service to support the client’s Oracle R12 migration in the U.S., providing full “follow the sun” support.


PARTNERSHIP.
As in many successful engagements, a strong partnership between the client and TEKsystems played a key role. The client was open about their challenges and asked us to provide a robust, cost-effective solution that would satisfy their needs. We came up with a proposal that met this goal, and once hired, worked hard to understand the client’s unique technical and cultural environment. This understanding, paired with our dedication to practicing continuous improvement within every engagement, allowed us to over-deliver on our agreed upon work. In turn, this helped the client gain trust in our capabilities and apply our solutions to an increasing scope of work.
TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE.
One of the advantages of working with our Hyderabad Solution Center is the extremely high quality of our consultants. TEKsystems recruits from top universities in India, and graduates work with our experienced Oracle engineers, including several veterans of Oracle’s own research and development team. In addition, through consolidating all Oracle support consultants to one location, the team can tap into a wider pool of experts with in-depth knowledge and practical experience.
DELIVERY MODEL.
The client’s concerns about working with an off-shore team were mitigated by the attentiveness of our local delivery manager and monthly meetings with the India-based team lead. This facilitated open communication between internal and outsourced teams, a critical part of any engagement. The hybrid on-site/off-site approach combined the many benefits of using off-site teams—such as flexibility, access to niche skills and consolidation of resources—with the relationships that drive excellent business outcomes.