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Supporting an International Infrastructure Organization with its Legacy Oracle ERP Environment

Professional Services | Enterprise Applications and Middleware Services

The client, a large global property and infrastructure organization, was upgrading to Oracle Release 12 from its legacy Release 11i environment. To efficiently support its legacy environment, the client sought off-shore support from TEKsystems®.

For more than 50 years, the client, a leading property and infrastructure organization, has been delivering asset and property management services, development solutions, building, engineering and construction as well as project management to customers around the globe. The company offers its services to a wide range of industry sectors, including education, government, healthcare, hotels and resorts, pharmaceuticals, retail, telecommunications and transportation. The client has been a partner of TEKsystems since 2006.

When introducing a new technology into a company’s environment, many organizations prefer to have internal staff facilitate the upgrade while an outside partner supports the legacy technology. Why? There are a few key reasons.

Keeping upgrades in-house

By keeping internal resources involved in a significant IT upgrade, organizations are better positioned to retain knowledge within the business. Alternatively, tapping external resources to facilitate an upgrade means some of the knowledge potentially leaves with the resources once the job is complete.

Additionally, consider what it means to upgrade. Updating a software program, application, hardware or other technology to a newer version of itself brings several positive benefits to end users. Perhaps with the upgrade, users gain access to new features previously unavailable in old versions; they may also experience enhanced performance compared to the technology they had before. Additionally, the older platform or system may be discontinued in the marketplace at some point in the future, meaning support for that technology could become unavailable. By upgrading systems internally, organizations can keep their employees engaged and motivated by exposing them to newer technologies and trusting them with the upgrade. This exposure provides hands-on training to the internal, full-time employees who will immediately learn and understand the new system; this could save time and money later when less training is needed.

Transitioning legacy support off site

While the in-house IT organization focuses on the core priority, the upgrade, outsourcing can be an advantageous solution for handling the legacy technology until its formal retirement. Often working with a partner can offer scalability—the organization does not have to spend time sourcing and building a team to handle the legacy technology, while the third party may also be prepared to provide off-site support on an as needed basis. Outsourcing can be a cost-effective way of supporting the legacy technology; this is an important consideration, bearing in mind that the budget for the upgrade itself may outweigh the amount organizations are willing to spend on supporting a platform that will soon be obsolete. “Sunsetting” or outsourcing the maintenance and support of a legacy platform until its eventual obsolescence and replacement also offers the organization the freedom of being hands-off during the transition, so when the outsourced partner leaves so does the retired technology.

Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i (various modules)

The client, a leading international property and infrastructure organization, was undergoing a global implementation of Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) Release 12 (R12). This would be an upgrade from the client’s existing Oracle Release 11i (R11i) environment. The upgrade would impact a range of business functions across the company, including finance, human resources and commercial billing.

The support model for the implementation was covered regionally with localization for each business area of the large organization. The client aimed to take the support team currently responsible for the R11i environment and reallocate them to the R12 initiative. Compared to R12, R11i was heavily customized which made it increasingly difficult to support. Lacking the bandwidth, the client’s in-house staff could not support the legacy environment while simultaneously supporting the R12 rollout. In addition, transitioning the team away from the legacy system to support the upgrade would generate increased employee engagement; the team would stay motivated by being exposed to the latest technology, as opposed to continuing to work on the old system. Working with the new system would also enable the team to learn it early on.

With internal support dedicated to R12, the client would need an external partner to efficiently manage the legacy Oracle R11i environment, including core modules: Oracle Financials (e.g., General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Cash Management), Oracle Project Accounting, Oracle iProcurement and Oracle iExpense. Problem tickets would be submitted for any issues related to these modules, workflow problems, or software or process activities. The third-party partner would also need to be able to handle any problem tickets until the retirement of R11i application, which was anticipated to take eight months.

By the time the client was ready to outsource R11i support, a significant backlog of tickets had accumulated. The partner of choice would need to not only take ownership of quickly resolving the backlogged tickets related to the legacy system, but also maintain the current inflow of tickets until the platform is retired. At the time of the engagement, the current ticket volume was estimated at 120 tickets per month. Effectively managing the ticketing process was critical to ensuring the stability of the EBS system and subsequently, allowing day-to-day business to run smoothly with no interruption or risk.

With the decision to outsource its R11i support, the client knew a managed services solution would be the optimal and most cost-effective support structure for the business. The client did not want to be responsible for managing the resources associated with the legacy system, as their time was going to be heavily concentrated on R12. The partner of choice would need to take responsibility for the delivery of the service, including addressing and resolving issues related to the existing Oracle EBS system and management of the resources supporting it.

Several Oracle specialist organizations reached out to offer support for the client’s legacy system, but were unable to provide the flexible support model that the client wanted. TEKsystems listened to the client, understood their wants and needs, and proposed a tailored solution that accommodated their unique requirements. 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.

To do this, we would provide two off-site, off-shore resources with expertise in the Oracle product set, including an Oracle Financials functional consultant and an Oracle Financials technical consultant; the project team would be fully dedicated to supporting this engagement from our India-based Hyderabad Solution Center. We would provide a delivery manager who would meet with the client on a monthly basis to keep stakeholders abreast of our progress and ensure the team remains aligned with the client’s goals. We would also provide an India-based associate director who would manage the resources in Hyderabad and attend the monthly meetings to provide further insight into project progress. The team would deliver this support until the legacy platform is fully retired.

With limited funds available to support the legacy application suite, our off-shore solution matched the client’s budget, while exceeding their support expectations. And through our well-established partnership since 2006, the client trusted our ability to deliver high-quality outcomes as well as our ability to retain the best talent for the job. The client also appreciated our customized managed services solution and believed in our ability to flex and adapt as the situation called for. Ultimately, TEKsystems was selected for this engagement.

Using a managed services approach, TEKsystems successfully transitioned to support the client’s legacy Oracle R11i environment. Within the first 90 days, we were able to close over 90 percent of open issues while continuing to monitor and address new issues. Full support of problem tickets was achieved within 60 days—one month ahead of schedule. As a result of our rapid problem resolution, internal staff could focus solely on the strategic upgrade to Oracle R12 and the client was confident that any potential risks associated with the transition were mitigated. Meaning, there was no concern that removing internal staff from Oracle R11i left gaps in existing business as the coverage provided by TEKsystems exceeded client expectations.

To ensure an effective transfer of knowledge, the off-shore team, based at our Hyderabad Solution Center, began by assessing the client’s existing support structure and evaluating modifications to Oracle R11i that were custom to the client environment. Specifically, the eight modules we needed to support were customizations made by the client. If the modules had been off-the-shelf Oracle modules, our team would have already understood them; talking with internal stakeholders enabled us to understand the nuances of their customizations. During this time period, the client would continue to own the Oracle R11i tickets until we fully transitioned. Although the client’s expectation was that the phase of transferring knowledge would require six weeks based on our proposed statement of work, we managed to complete the knowledge transfer after just two weeks.

The TEKsystems team was committed to providing continual improvement throughout the course of the engagement. A strong example that demonstrates our dedication to improvement was our root-cause analysis on trending problem tickets. We established a baseline of tickets, evaluating where we could provide value add. From this, we took note of what inflow of tickets were trending; the root-cause analysis enabled us to determine how to modify problem tickets and design a workflow fix that was placed into the environment to subsequently eliminate the recurring problem tickets. In fact, with this root-cause analysis, we were able to reduce recurring problem tickets by 10 percent in less than 90 days on the job. Notably, the user experience also improved. Before, if there was a glitch and there was a system fail, perhaps the user would try to fix the issue themselves through a workaround or by submitting a problem ticket. By eliminating some of the recurring problems through our root-cause analysis, users were able to complete tasks the first time around with no frustration. And as a result of this, customer satisfaction noticeably increased, thereby also boosting the reputation of the client’s IT organization from the perspective of the broader business.

This engagement was successful because we were:
1) Committed to actively listening to client priorities
2) Dedicated to continual improvement
3) Flexible in tailoring and customizing our delivery

  • Active listening. Prior to our involvement in this engagement, the client was negotiating with a different specialty contractor. The client was frustrated with not only the lack of flexibility that the contractor was willing to provide, but also the superfluous, unnecessary add-ons that increased the cost of the contractor’s proposed solution. As a result, the client decided to look elsewhere. TEKsystems listened carefully in order to ensure our proposed—then executed—solution was exactly what the client had in mind. We stepped up and provided a tailored solution that met the client’s needs exactly where they were, then continued to regularly touch base to ensure the solution was still aligned with the business.
  • Continual improvement. We did not propose a solution and then implement it without ever looking back. Instead, we met with the client on a monthly basis to assess our progress and explore best practices to ultimately determine ways to improve our process over time. We provided data to the client that offered visibility into their business that they were not getting before. Our focus on continual improvement was a value add that allowed us to surpass the client’s expectations for our partnership. For example, our root-cause analysis—something the client was not expecting—allowed us to reduce tickets by 90 percent. This was the first time the client invested in an off-shore support structure, and our ability to deliver a world‑class solution was above and beyond client expectations.
  • Customization. We were adaptable to the client’s needs pertaining to every aspect of the engagement. To start, we tailored our solution to precisely meet the client’s needs. We based our initial methodology on findings from the knowledge transfer and from shadowing and taking a back seat just listening to the client. Additionally, the approach used for each specific module was tailored to give the appropriate level of attention to the various customizations. We also modified our reporting to ensure we captured all information that aligned with senior management priorities; as such, our reporting was used as a benchmark for client leadership.