Quest discussed with Melissa Penfield, Director of IT Applications at Fluidmaster Inc., the value of advanced functionality and staying up-to-date on their ERP version.
- Fluidmaster completed a global upgrade from 9.1 to 9.2 as a technical lift-and-shift project in 5 months
- Staying current on their ERP version supports Fluidmaster’s acquisition and growth strategy
- Upgrading to the current release enables Fluidmaster to stay up to date with infrastructure, browsers and new JD Edwards features
About Fluidmaster Inc.
Established in 1957 and reaching across the world, Fluidmaster remains a family owned and operated company known for its superior engineering of efficient and reliable toilet components. The company has become an icon in the plumbing operations in North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, China, Turkey, Australia and India, as well as a worldwide distribution network across more than 80 countries selling more toilet tank replacement valves than any other manufacturer in the world. In addition to the original fill valve developed by founder Adolf Schoepe and enhanced through the years, Fluidmaster’s complete line of toilet care parts include exposed and in-wall cisterns, standard and dual flush valves, flappers, activation systems, bowl wax and wax-free products, toilet repair kits, and supply line connectors. The company’s global headquarters is located in San Juan Capistrano, California.
Fluidmaster currently utilizes Manufacturing, Distribution and Financials in EnterpriseOne, with Slovenia and the Netherlands using Advance Warehouse Management, and the Netherlands using Configurator. The company operates on-premise within a virtualized environment, but they are currently evaluating hosted cloud strategy and offerings. The JD Edwards versions they currently run are Enterprise One Applications 9.2 and Tools version 188.8.131.52. They are planning their next JD Edwards Tools upgrade for 2019.
Of around 2,000 employees, 20 compose Fluidmaster’s IT team with approximately 900 JD Edwards users worldwide. Fluidmaster embarked on its first implementation with JD Edwards in July of 2013, bringing North American operations on board, consisting of three sites: headquarters in San Juan Capistrano, a distribution center in Texas, and a manufacturing plant in Mexico. They just completed their sixth integration phase in December of 2017. Fluidmaster’s sites in North America, China, England, Slovenia, Germany, Netherlands and Turkey are now all on a single database instance of EnterpriseOne.
Director of IT Applications
Do you have any upgrade best practice you can share with other customers?
First, evaluate customizations that can be decommissioned in the planning and discovery stage. We were able to eliminate 10 percent of our customizations through that process. We also evaluated new functionality that we would need to incorporate such as UDO foundational enhancements so that we were ready for these changes from the start of the project.
Second, upgrading interim tools more frequently than your larger applications and infrastructure upgrades will make those larger upgrades somewhat simpler without a big tools layer uplift to contend with. You also receive pervasive tools related enhancements on a more frequent basis this way, which are oftentimes low hanging fruit for the users.
A year prior to our 9.2 upgrade, we upgraded the tools layer from 9.1.2 to 9.1.5, which made the move to the 9.2 applications and tools releases easier for our users as much of the UI changes and UDO improvements were already in 9.1.5. Fluidmaster also approaches this with the premise to do the base work via one project (e.g. Lift and Shift), then evaluate and prioritize as separate projects the implementing of enhancements, new modules, etc.
How long did it take to upgrade to a new release?
Four months. Five if you include the earlier upgrade assessment we did, which was a deep review of the effort to uplift all custom code to the 9.2 release. We hope future upgrades will be shorter with Oracle’s continuous delivery model.
Is your whole team ready to step up to advanced functionality?
Our internal IT Business Analyst Team has learned and is continuing to learn about advanced functionalities in the newer release; it is a continuum of learning. What is great about our team is we have a culture of collaboration and cross-training. We’re seeing our users leverage advanced queries, watchlists and Cafe One more and more.
Are you leveraging your JD Edwards updates to optimally meet your business goals?
Keeping up-to-date on our ERP version is a major factor in our company’s strategic vision of new product innovation and integrating acquisitions.
Without a current and capable ERP that our global sites can all be on together, it would be difficult to facilitate such functional change. We’re better positioned to introduce JD Edwards language or localization code for a new site, or implement another JDE module when required, without running into baseline ESU issues that can lead to surprise upgrades. Operationally, I see fewer requests into IT related to data and report requests, which I correlate to the availability of the UDO features and that they are being leveraged by our user base. And, being on the same instance, our users can share reports and UDOs as well, so they do not need to reinvent the wheel site by site for different regional users.
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