Modernize Your Finance System in Four Months, Not 40.

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If you are a finance manager with a government agency, you might be accustomed to working with a hierarchy of approvers to track and validate your expenditures. But, imagine having to create and distribute seven paper copies of a purchase order for each stakeholder?

That was the systemic reality for Nazer Uddin, finance manager for the Fox River Water Reclamation District in Elgin, Ill., who decided to streamline Fox River’s outdated financial system by migrating a legacy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to a cloud based model. And he did so in just 16 weeks, with the help of ST Tech, a Platinum level member of the Oracle Partner Network and SaaS implementation expert.

Nazer talked with me about how it took only four months to convert his on-premises system to the nimble and cost-effective Oracle ERP cloud-based solution.

“Our district had not been upgraded. We had an outdated system with no ability to add new customers,” Nazer said. Transactions were entered redundantly, and financial reports were created by copying and pasting data and converting it into Excel.

Nazer recognized that the time was right to move to the cloud. “I didn’t think our district could afford a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) system,” Nazer said.” And it was important to have a partnership with the company, so that the product could meet our needs.”

After examining a number of options, Nazer and his management selected the Oracle ERP system, with ST Tech implementing the solution.

Data out, data in

One of the toughest migration challenges was data loading. Nazer and his team had to figure out how much data to bring across from the legacy ERP system, and how much to leave in an archive. The transition gave the Fox River team the opportunity to cleanse their data, amending or removing database records that were incomplete, improperly formatted, and duplicative, in order to run a lean system at cutover. Financial information from previous years was stored in the organization’s legacy database, and could be accessed when necessary.

Often, many financial systems use a proprietary coding language and are not open for data import and export. For any migration effort, the hard part is pulling and pushing the data in and out. However, Oracle’s Cloud ERP system is engineered as open-source, meaning that any data format can be easily handled, formatted and imported directly from an Excel spreadsheet.

Social and mobile features included

When a new system is built expressly for the cloud (known as “cloud-native”), the benefits of a cloud-hosted ERP system are quickly realized. Through the addition of a social networking tool, conversations and notes about any issue can be documented and attached to the individual transaction, providing a clear record of due diligence and detailed information for auditors.

With a daily average of 38 million gallons of wastewater treated to serve 180,000 people, field service workers require an instant connection to the home office. A broken wastewater pipe may need an emergency requisition to order a required part. Extra chemicals for wastewater treatment might be required in the event of an environmental disaster. Now, operational managers on the scene can order supplies from their smart phones, and executives can instantly approve requisitions…all without those seven copies of a purchase order.

Today, in just under a minute, Fox River can have its first purchase order approved, released and issued to the vendor via email due to the powerful automation and rules-based capabilities of the Oracle ERP Procurement Cloud.

In the future, Nazer said he’ll be ordering tablet computers for his staff to take advantage of the user-friendly system and get instant access to data. You might just say that transforming your financial system into a productive and agile one in just a few months is no pipe dream for Oracle ERP users.

Nazer Uddin will be a featured speaker at Oracle Open World 2017. Sign up for session CON7124 “Leveraging SaaS to Modernize the Back Office in Public Sector” at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4.