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Orchestrator and Continuous Innovation: A Customer Panel

JDE INFOCUS

At INFOCUS Envision, Oracle JD Edwards’ AJ Schifano introduced three JD Edwards customers, Womble Company, Granite Properties, and J. B. Poindexter & Co., who are utilizing digital transformation in present-day operations. Each of the customers presented their company’s JD Edwards footprint before outlining an Orchestrator solution to a real business problem. The stories are both inspiring and impressive as each company applied seemingly new technology to achieve a better bottom line.

Orchestrator and Continuous Innovation: A Customer Panel

Womble Company, Inc.

Womble Company, Inc. is a family-owned pipe coating company that launched in 1972. Womble is a leading provider of internal and external pipeline coating systems. They boast 6 coating plants and 10 storage yards covering more than 400 acres. Pipe coatings range in diameter from 1 to 48 inches and can reach up to 100 feet in length.

JD Edwards Footprint

Womble went live on JDE 8.12 in June 2011. They are currently running JDE 9.2 Tools 9.2.4.3. They use DSi’s data collection solution, which includes 125 handheld scanners and 35 zebra printers. Womble developed its Aruba Wi-Fi network with systems admins and Aruba. There are 102 total access points,  61 of which are solar-powered, across 400 acres. They use InsightSoftware Hubble Analytics and K-Rise Systems Mobile Applications.

Business Problem

IT and Operations Manager, Bryan Brewer, was given a mandate from Womble Company’s president to build a mobile app. The app was to be easy to use for both customers and internal staff. It had to be able to run on any device and operating system that can connect to the internet. Womble’s app would be used for customer releases or sales orders. The release is an authorization from a customer to release their pipe. Sometimes it is sent to the customer. However, sometimes the customer is a distributor. If so, Womble sends the release to the end user.

The main issue was the wait time for delivery trucks. These are customer-contractor carriers. The longer trucks wait to get loaded, the less drive time they have. Before Orchestrator, Womble had very limited visibility to personnel and equipment requirements by facility. This was due to the fact that customer releases often didn’t even show up until the driver did. Customers were frustrated, and the company was receiving customer chargebacks. It all came down to the amount of time it took to enter orders and verify data. Many times, Womble had to reach back out to the customer, who may have had to reach out to their carrier and dispatcher to get updated information back to the drivers and to load their truck with the product and get out the door. Time was very costly.

Womble’s Orchestration

After considering all of the problems the app would solve and the mandates from his company president, Brewer’s sales order entry application turned into a more complex orchestration than originally planned. The recorder and recorded process calls four different objects. In the orchestration, they use form requests, custom requests, data requests, connectors, multiple media object attachments at multiple points, and rules that determine pipe or non-pipe products with notifications. The orchestration map is shown below.

Womble partnered with K-Rise systems for their mobile application. K-Rise offers an OCR Extract and initial validation. From the OCR extract, they can extract to Excel. Info is taken either from those spreadsheets or directly from the app. The app runs on all devices as long as the device can connect to the internet. Data moves from the application through the K-Rise EASYProcess where it is converted to a JSON string sent forward to Womble, processed through an orchestration, and the orchestration inserts the data into JD Edwards and sends notifications.

The layers of the app are:

  • XI/UX/CX Layer – EXCEL, PDF, mobile application
  • Application Layer – K-Rise Systems EASYProcess
  • Integration Layer – Orchestrator Studio
  • ERP “Source of Truth” – Oracle JD Edwards

At the time of the INFOCUS Envision presentation, the app has been tested and applied to beta customers. There have been no issues to this point, and it is set to go live soon.

Lessons Learned and Recommendations

  1. Within the organization, an executive mandate does not equate to employee buy-in and support. For Womble, the shipping manager pushed back from day one.
  2. Make sure to define and design the entire solution. Bryan’s team received additional requirements after the initial solution was built & tested, wasting time & resources.
  3. Understand the impact on all users, both internal and external. Womble customers did not want to use the app—they wanted to continue placing orders the familiar way.

What’s Next?

Womble is solution testing an orchestration for one of their largest customers in which they will eliminate PDF reports that require personnel to open, print, key in, and verify info provided into their SAP ERP solution. Once confirmed, they will request the information directly via a REST call, and the orchestrations will send the required data via a JSON data feed and do a direct update of their SAP database. The daily reports that are part of this project include:

  • Customer Receipts by Day
  • Customer Shipments by Day
  • Customer Coating Tallies by Day
  • Customer Repair Reports by Day

Continued Orchestrator projects for 2021 include extracting the daily manufacturing schedule and attached media for work orders to Excel, repair work order entry with a batch process that eliminates the creation of repair work orders that have been done one at a time, and lot location status updates that will batch by lot status.

Granite Properties, Inc.

Granite Properties, Inc. is a privately held commercial real estate company. Granite focuses on office space in five markets – Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Denver, and Southern California. The company is based in Plano, Texas, just north of Dallas. They own, manage, and lease most of their product, excluding a few strategic partnerships.

Granite Properties has an established investor and developer with a focus on high-quality build-to-core projects. They are currently planning acquisition and development projects valued at over $1 billion in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, and Houston. They are a nine-time consecutive winner of Fortune Magazine’s Great Places to Work.

JD Edwards Footprint

Granite went live on Financials, Job Cost & AREF One World in 2000. They utilize a partner, Circular Edge, which handles all JD Edwards development and CNC and system administration. In 2019, Circular Edge moved Granite to 9.2. Granite currently runs Tools 9.2.3.6 with 50 users across 15 locations in 4 states.

Business Problem(s)

In commercial real estate, one of the common headaches is that of manual billings. Manual billings are one-off charges to customers for various reasons such as conference room use, overtime air use outside of the normal operating hours of the building, extra access cards, etc. Some nuances in manual billing can occur. Examples are service fees performed by Granite or a contract vendor and sales tax variances.

A couple of years ago, Granite’s customers were begging them to remove the tedious task of manual billings. Per asset, there were four hours per month of manual billing work, equaling 180 hours per month. The business case to make this was easy.

Manual billings are a recipe to follow, which makes them a perfect candidate for automation, typically through an RPA tool. At the time, Granite was using a different tool which was hosted by an RPA solution. However, the provider giving them x-hours of processor time per month as a host solution found that it was not very profitable outside of large-scale automation. Granite was forced out of using the provider, and they needed to reimplement.

Granite was ready for the benefits that come along with using a native JD Edwards tool. This would build intelligence into the acts of the Orchestration. It would cut the cost of an additional service, as Orchestrator is included in their JD Edwards product. It just made sense to move to the Orchestrator model.

In summary, the business problems included:

  • Tedious and time-consuming work for manual billings
  • Missed opportunities to facetime with the customer and grow the company
  • Human input prone to error

Granite Properties Orchestration

Angus Systems runs the job of manual billing entry Excel files each night. Granite instructed the format they want to receive the file in. There are usually five or so files that get dropped from Angus into the FTP site. Orchestrator downloads the file, moves it over to read the data, and then follows the recipe steps to enter the info into the manual billing screen with logic for applying applicable sales tax, service charges, subtenants, etc., and feeds the info directly into JD Edwards B1511 application. It enters the lines and creates a batch. The batch runs once to become approved and then posts the batches in the system. There is some upstream validation with Angus which includes intelligence and data clean-up to make the process easier on Orchestrator. Once the batch posts in JDE, an email is sent to a group of people with the batch, amount, error, and any necessary details. This happens each night.

The manual billing orchestration saved around 3,000 hours of input time. It eliminated human error and increased the amount of time to spend with customers. Now, the staff is freed up to do more for the company. The company’s portfolio can grow without having to add resources. Most exciting to the company is an increased amount of time that can be devoted to meeting customer needs. The commercial real estate industry has shifted to a customer focus, and facetime with customers greatly benefits Granite’s potential for growth. They are now able to be a better company for customers than they could be before orchestrating manual billing.

Lessons Learned and Recommendations

  1. Orchestrator is constantly evolving and making tasks easier
  2. Upgrade to the latest releases. There have been significant improvements in Orchestrator functionality and capability with 9.2.4 and above.
  3. Use Groovy scripting where native orchestrator features and connectors are not available.

What’s Next?

Next at Granite, the team aims to identify other areas of opportunity for leveraging Orchestrator’s ability for process automation. Specifically, the advanced real estate forecasting tool gives a lot of information. They want to see if Orchestrator can take out the detail lines and export them to Excel, simplifying the forecasting process. They will also evaluate how to move data in a more efficient fashion.

J.B.Poindexter and Co., Inc.

J.B. Poindexter and Co., Inc. is a privately held, diversified manufacturing company. There are approximately 6,500 team members. They have a consolidated revenue of approximately $1.6 billion. JBPCO has eight business units producing commercial truck bodies, step-vans, service utility trucks, funeral coaches, limousines, vehicle cargo management systems, pick-up truck bed covers, and accessories. The company grows both organically and through acquisition, with a very active business development strategy. Each business has unique integration requirements and needs to perform electronic transactions with its specific ancillary systems and business partners.

JD Edwards Footprint

JBPCO is running Apps 9.2 and Tools 9.2.4.5. They use Sales, Advanced Pricing, Purchasing, Financials, AR, AP, GL, Multicurrency, Inventory, Case Management, Manufacturing, Configurator, Warranty, Service, and Transportation Management.

Business Goal

JBPCO’s goal was to increase the overall brand value with the best possible customer buying experience. They wanted real-time, accurate pricing. Configured items make this difficult work as operations include checking inventory, creating a sales order, and sending it back to the customer. This must happen in real-time. To write all of this code at one time can be costly, time-consuming, and could unnecessarily duplicate code. This would cause problems at batch, and code would have to be corrected.

J.B. Poindexter and Co., Inc. Orchestration

The solution was to integrate EnterpriseOne with E-Commerce systems using Orchestrator. To achieve immediate, accurate pricing, an orchestration creates a “fake” sales order to get a price. The sales order entry returns a created or updated real sales order.

Lessons Learned and Recommendations

  • Be a part of the JDE ecosystem
    • Quest Oracle Community
    • Local User Groups
    • Partners
  • Keep training
    • LearnJDE
    • YouTube JDE Trainings
    • Training webcasts
  • Get interoperability developers more familiar with JDE processes in order to minimize time-consuming dependency on JDE functional experts

What’s Next?

Next at JBPCO, the team plans to accelerate digital transformation by implementing monitored RPA integrating Microsoft Power Automate desktop (now free) and Orchestrator.

Key Takeaway

Orchestrator is a powerful tool in the digital transformation age. JD Edwards customers such as Womble, Granite, and JBPCO are leveraging its capabilities to enhance customer interactions and increase value. By identifying business problems and applying Orchestrations, your organization, too, can be a frontrunner of digital transformation. Watch as it grows in both value and efficiency.

Additional Resources

Join us on October 18-21, 2021, for INFOCUS Dive Deep! Picking up from where INFOCUS Envision ends, INFOCUS Dive Deep completes our two-part virtual JD Edwards conference series. JD Edwards users of all levels can dig into new releases, dive deep into practical learning, get new ideas from best practices and hone their core JD Edwards skills during four jam-packed digital days of education and networking. Register today!

Call for Presentations for INFOCUS Dive Deep is now open until July 16th! Submit an abstract to be considered for selection!

Orchestrator and Continuous Innovation: A Customer Panel