During Quest Forum Digital Event: Innovation Week, Lyle Ekdahl, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Oracle, presented on how to re-imagine your business model in an age of digital transformation. In today’s world, you have to rethink the way you use JD Edwards applications, embrace a new user experience, and automate your business processes. Ekdahl’s keynote took a look at how customers are using the JD Edwards digital platform to transform and re-imagine their businesses.
JD Edwards in the Era of COVID-19
Ekdahl began by sharing how proud JD Edwards is to serve important organizations on the frontlines of COVID-19. Currently, those customers include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Baxter, Cardinal Health, and more. In total, there are over 200 life science customers focused on global health. Furthermore, JDE manufacturing customers are busy adjusting processes to meet the production needs of hospitals and citizens. Ekdahl remarked that it is a privilege to partner with these essential businesses.
When shelter in place orders came about, Oracle JD Edwards adapted to work-from-home business processes in less than 24 hours, with only minor issues on the margin. Ekdahl explained that JDE continues to define, design, deliver, and support its customers’ software needs without missing a beat. By investing in business continuity, Oracle was prepared to adapt quickly. Could you say the same for your business?
If not, Ekdahl showed how JD Edwards can help. Using a digital platform that enables transformation, you can:
- Transform your business processes
- Automate manual tasks
- Extend your applications and data to mobile workers, machines, and suppliers
- Access digital solutions that your business requires
Imagine what it would be like to know your company is agile and adequately prepared for times of uncertainty. Recently, JDE received a request to assist a customer with an overnight spike in demand. When the JDE team investigated the company’s issues, they found that the customer hadn’t made any updates in ten years. It wasn’t that the system was failing, it just simply hadn’t been updated to its full capacity.
Fortunately, the JD Edwards team was able to develop quick solutions to solve short-term needs and help the company make the updates they had been ignoring. Today, the customer is able to adapt to market needs. Had JDE developers not swooped to the rescue, the business would have suffered massive losses. Staying on an unsupported release provides risk to your business and reduces your ability to adapt to demand. As innovations are rolled out for JD Edwards, it’s imperative that customers take advantage of new tools and releases.
JD Edwards Innovation Announcements
During his presentation, Ekdahl revealed that JD Edwards will offer Premier Support for EnterpriseOne 9.2 until at least 2031. Additionally, EnterpriseOne Tools Release 188.8.131.52 and application enhancements will continue to drive business transformation. With this release comes simplified and enhanced citizen developer tools, 58 enhancements for ERP optimization, improved financial controls, and the latest platform certifications and localizations.
These releases can help you re-imagine your own platform through:
- Modern Platforms for Enterprise Computing
- Leveraging technology, software, and infrastructure to ensure maximum operational capability and flexibility for the lowest cost
- OCI as a Platform for JD Edwards
- Improved performance and flexible architecture from modern operations
- JD Edwards and Hybrid Cloud
- Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for reliability, scalability, and sustainability
- Azure for other strategic business requirements
By staying up to date with JD Edwards releases, you combine continuous delivery with continuous adoption to get code current. In today’s economy, businesses must embrace change, work smarter, and reimagine what’s possible. For more details, go to learnjde.com.
How Customers Use JDE to Reimagine Their Businesses
Ekdahl brought several JD Edwards customers into the presentation to discuss how they are leveraging JD Edwards and the technologies that come with it to reimagine and transform their businesses.
Ford Meter Box
Ekdahl’s first customer guest was Cheryl Working, JD Edwards Systems Manager at Ford Meter Box.
Ford Meter Box was founded in 1898 and is headquartered in Wabash, Indiana. This family-owned manufacturer of waterworks products has 713 employees at two locations and runs JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2 to support 220 users.
The IT team at Ford Meter Box was tasked with automating manufacturing processes that relied heavily on manual, human interaction. Working explained that the business was initially skeptical that they could use EnterpriseOne 9.2 to meet automation goals and even went on to say it in fact wasn’t possible. However, with the help of partner ERP Suites, the Ford Meter Box team took on the challenge.
At Ford Meter Box, employees are required to measure the alloy content in all products use an x-ray fluorescence gun. Before automation, there was a human employee that performed this process manually for each product. That human would import and review the data, but Ford Meter Box had issues with incorrect data loading and inefficiencies that required the IT team to get involved and ultimately add automation to this process.
Now, with an XRF (x-ray fluorescent) gun, which is IP-based and connected to a Raspberry Pi, the human can be eliminated from the process. Within JD Edwards, the operator can initiate a scan of the product, and JDE will actually pull the trigger on the XRF gun. The process is automated with the EnterpriseOne Orchestrator, and the data is digitally transmitted and collected by JD Edwards, where employees can review measurements. The process is now more stable, creates better data integrity, and eliminates human error. With Orchestrator, Ford Meter Box is able to collect more data than ever before.
JD Edwards Mobility
Ford Meter Box has also embraced JD Edwards Mobility to accommodate for its remote workforce. The team created a set of its own fit-for-purpose mobile applications. Ford Meter Box’s remote salesforce needs customer-specific information on the go, but not all of the information that would be found in a typical CRM (customer relationship management) system. The main focus of this salesforce is not to create quotes or leads, but to maintain relationships with customers. To help them do this, the team needs a contact list and the ability to keep track of discussions.
Ford Meter Box’s mobile solutions are integrated through orchestrations directly into the JD Edwards Address Book and provides information about customers, engineers, contractors, and other key contacts. The mobile application eliminated the need for each salesman to manually track customer information in their contacts, notes, calendar, etc.
In addition to bringing that information together in one place, the mobile app also provides the salesmen with access to Google Maps, the ability to scan business cards and automatically add the information to Address Book, initiate phone calls and text messages, and record notes from meetings with customers via voice to text. As information is collected, a batch process is initiated within JDE to collect weekly notes and emails out to managers for approval.
Ford Meter Box also leverages UX One in their business to make processes simpler for employees. The legacy system that Ford Meter Box used prior to EnterpriseOne was in place for over 25 years. It was a highly customized, data general, green screen application. When Ford Meter Box went live with EnterpriseOne, it took a while to show users that it was still possible to run the business with this new system. Now, Ford Meter Box is at the point where it wants to show users that not only can JD Edwards help them run the business, but it will also allow them to innovate and re-imagine the business.
The challenge ahead was that there was user adoption but not user excitement. With UX One, the team knew they could increase both user adoption and excitement. There is a UX One app for manufacturing that provides information about quality, weight, number of pieces, etc. This automated process keeps employees from having to perform calculations. Manual processes for checking alloy content, printing routing tickets, and updating work orders have been eliminated.
Staying Code Current
Ford Meter Box is currently on version 9.2, but when they were on version 9.1, there was a bug in Sales Order Entry. To get that small bug fixed, they needed to take a large baseline ESU because they had fallen behind. That prerequisite ESU ended up busting a lot of what Ford Meter Box had in place. It was a big enough problem that the team decided that they could live with the bug until they went on 9.2. Due to that issue, Ford Meter Box decided to maintain a strategy of continuous updates to avoid that problem in the future. The goal is to become code current every three to four months on ESUs and Tools releases. Tools releases are installed as soon as they prove to be stable.
Flatiron Construction Corp.
Ekdahl’s next customer guest was Craig Oppermann, Chief Information Officer at Flatiron Construction Corp.
Flatiron Construction Corp. was founded in 1947. The company builds critical infrastructure and landmark projects (bridges, dams, highways, airports, etc.). Flatiron is made up of 4,000 employees at 14 locations and serves 400 users and 1,400 self-service users on JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2.
Upgrading to 9.2
Flatiron’s current vision includes transforming into a more digital business. Over the past five years, Flatiron has been investing in technology to help improve business processes and transform the IT landscape. The systems in place were very archaic and disconnected, and there were a large number of manual processes in place. Due to this, Flatiron made the decision to move systems up to cloud-based and SaaS-based solutions. However, the team was unable to do anything about its JD Edwards World environment. They felt stuck. In order to move forward, the company knew that it needed to invest in its platform. After looking at several options, Flatiron adopted JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2 in Q1 of 2018 and went live in April 2019. This resulted in the automation of tasks and improved interfaces and user experience.
Process Automation and Collaboration
Over the 10 years that Flatiron was on JDE World, reports got out of control. The company had over 10,000 reports spread over multiple reporting solutions over the years. There were also hundreds of customizations involved. There was a big disconnect between the back-office staff and the field staff. During the process of upgrading to EnterpriseOne 9.2, Flatiron was able to complete a business process matching exercise, identify the most important reports, take a look at manual tasks and processes they weren’t aware of, and explore how to leverage JD Edwards technology to make improvements.
A good example of this is Flatiron’s third-party system that is used for forecasting out in the field. In the JDE World data, this process was completely manual, which resulted in data errors. In EnterpriseOne, this process became automated with Orchestrator and updated interfaces. This allowed back-office staff and field staff to begin collaborating even more.
After only a week of being live on EnterpriseOne 9.2, Flatiron immediately began looking at its Procurement and Asset Management processes. There are several hundred pieces of heavy equipment at job sites, and Flatiron was previously tracking that equipment’s lifecycle manually. With 9.2, Flatiron is able to instead use the IoT (Internet of Things) devices on the equipment, tie them in with Orchestrator, and send data through the cloud and back into JD Edwards EnterpriseOne. This helps Flatiron keep track of things like equipment location, fuel level, maintenance, etc. without having to manually check each piece of equipment. Oppermann explained that this easily saved Flatiron hundreds of thousands of dollars.
JD Edwards Mobility
Like many other businesses, Flatiron has employees out on-the-go at job sites, not always in an office or at a desk. That is why mobile capabilities have become so important to the business. Having data available on a mobile device out in the field enables employees to make better decisions and provide information back to office staff quicker.
One example of mobile capabilities at Flatiron is in its Requisition process. Employees are able to fill out requisitions on a mobile device, which will route back into JD Edwards, and it will fire off a PO process that gets approved. Timesheet entry is another area where Flatiron leverages mobile solutions in addition to employee self-service. Having a system that is easy to use and provides data in a consistent format has been a huge benefit to Flatiron.
User Experience and Ease of Use
With EnterpriseOne 9.2, Flatiron was able to get off the greenscreen and onto the web platform, which was a big change for users. However, the new web platform has enabled much of the younger users at Flatiron to embrace the technology available to them.
For user experience, the Flatiron team also leverages functionality like Watchlists, custom fields, custom labels, etc. to help users understand the system in the way that suits their role. For example, different departments will use different terminology, so it’s important to have data reflected in the way that makes sense to each person. The look and feel for a Procurement Manager will be customized to be different than that for a Finance employee.
Staying Code Current
Oppermann also explained that taking patches and ESUs on EnterpriseOne is also much more simplified than it was with JDE World. With World, it felt like a monumental lift each time, but with EnterpriseOne, it’s easy for Flatiron to stay current and utilize new technology.
In addition to all of the great functionality that EnterpriseOne has brought Flatiron, the company is also looking at a couple of SaaS solutions—Financial Consolidation and Account Reconciliation. These are included in Flatiron’s roadmap for 2021.
Ekdahl’s third and final guest was Clif Lee, Director of Corporate Systems at TruGreen, Inc.
TruGreen, Inc. was founded in 1973 in Troy, Michigan. It is the nation’s leading lawn care company and offers a science-based approach to lawn care, tree and shrub care, and mosquito control. The company serves 2.5 million residential and commercial customers and a team of 15,000 employees. TruGreen brings in roughly $1.4 billion in revenue and has 260 branch locations and 38 franchise locations across the U.S. and Canada.
JD Edwards in the Cloud
TruGreen was a business unit of ServiceMaster until the end of 2014. When they moved away from ServiceMaster, TruGreen was on an enterprise-level instance of ERP 8.0 on an IBM UDB DB2 database AIX platform. At the time, TruGreen had iSeries, Oracle, and Microsoft components. They ended up on a platform that nobody had really chosen and was hard to manage. Staying on this platform for years hindered TruGreen’s ability to make improvements in its JD Edward environment.
After the spinoff from ServiceMaster, TruGreen began a process to get out of the data center business. TruGreen made the decision to go with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2 as its platform moving forward. TruGreen decided to go with a net new install instead of a migration and conversion. With the help of their implementation partner, Velocity Technology Solutions, TruGreen was able to make the move to the OCI 9.2 with a Linux environment and Oracle Database PaaS (Platform as a Service).
There were several reasons why TruGreen decided to run JD Edwards in the cloud instead of on-premise, including improved performance and flexible architecture from modern operations. From a resource perspective, Lee explained that having a managed services agreement makes it a much more stable environment for him to manage instead of having to staff resources with the appropriate skills. TruGreen has noticed both performance improvements and cost savings from running JD Edwards in the cloud.
In addition to leveraging JD Edwards technologies like mobile capabilities and UX One, TruGreen is also using universal credits to look at ways to utilize Oracle beyond JD Edwards. TruGreen’s Field Service and Billing applications have been running in an iSeries environment, but they recently moved that environment into the Velocity private cloud. To more tightly integrate what TruGreen is doing with Field Service with the backend of JD Edwards, TruGreen is looking to use Orchestrator and the data structures of JDE to support that process.
Staying Code Current
TruGreen has also signed an “Always Current” agreement with Velocity that helps them stay code current on both apps and Tools. TruGreen is also about to begin it 64-bit migration to help with what they are doing in the interactive space.
Ekdahl wrapped up by reflecting on how these customers are leveraging JD Edwards to reimagine their businesses in ways that allow them to embrace change and work smarter. It’s important to be prepared for things that you cannot predict, like COVID-19. Ekdahl encourages customers to take a look at their own businesses and strive to utilize JD Edwards to make improvements that will help them eliminate manual tasks, improve user experience