Some users at Cetera were cautious of Oracle Saas platforms for ERP, EPM and HCM but have recognised the benefits of a single entry point, innovative planning and budgeting tools, along with standard Excel-based UIs.
Transforming existing conventional applications to a new and smaller range of integrated tools can be a cautious exercise for many businesses. Whilst many professionals prefer to maintain their traditional software, the benefits and simplicity of SaaS generally result in enhanced efficiency, winning over any sceptics and resulting in improved business performance.
US-based Cetera Financial Group, the main provider of services and technology for financial companies went through the process of implementing Oracle ERP Cloud for financials, accounts and procurement, and Oracle EPM Cloud for planning and budgeting.
Matthew Whitehead, vice president of financial planning and analysis at Cetera explained that the simple lack of custom features of new SaaS applications was a concern. Users questioned whether transferring from a familiar system into a perceived rigid system was a wise choice.
Cetera worked with implementation partners PwC to deliver a procedure to reduce customisation and ensure the business gained the best results from configuring Oracle ERP Cloud Software. The initial evaluation generated a range of questions such as why Cetera thinks they differ from the thousands of other installs that Oracle has performed over the years to create an efficient cloud solution.
In terms of Oracle EPM Cloud, Whitehead explains the issues were more pronounced due to the software forcing users into its financial frameworks and workforce planning. Cetera focused on selecting its main goals and financial modelling requirement to establish the EPM software’s key performance indicators.
The result? Cetera reduced its chart of accounts from the general ledger, enabling users to focus more on other accounts. Whitehead explains the system provided them with speed and flexibility in the capability to forecast, plan, report and measure continuously.
Cetera also transformed their existing planning and forecasting tool, Solver BI360. The new Oracle planning and budgeting cloud service (PBCS) has enhanced the forecasting potential at Cetera and maintained the preferred choice of interface for most users.
Whitehead explains this is the place where Oracle provides its Hyperion business intelligence and corporate performance management system. Whitehead highlights that PBCS also includes Hyperion Financial Reporting Studio, offering a more solid reporting system, allowing for reporting in both HTML and PDF formats. Whitehead explains that Excel is still a prominent focus for financial teams but to serve the requirements of business users Cetera really needed a more standardised, streamlined and simpler system.
Oracle ERP Cloud – Single Entry Point
For Cetera, one of the main challenges was determining how to communicate the impacts on procurement, expenses, planning and budgeting, areas that affect many users. Cetera was also in the process of transferring its expense system from an onsite SAP Concur to Oracle ERP Cloud.
Whitehead along with Jeffrey Buchheister, CFO of Cetera worked with marketing and communications to deliver a clear strategy that could be passed on to it users. In-house training teams and HR would support with training.
Whitehead explains that they delivered a series of communication strategies to ensure the vision was clear and more importantly, how it would impact each department and the benefits it would bring. The underlying message was that Oracle ERP Cloud and EPM Cloud would create an industry shift that promotes further growth and creates further insights into the business.
In hindsight, Whitehead suggested that a helpful process would have been to focus on more complex cases and really determine the solutions to each individual case and really understanding potential challenges that Cetera may face in the future.
Now ERP and EPM is in the cloud, employees have more access to data and insightful information. Individual accounts and logins for a range of systems including BI360 and Concur are no more, replaced with a singular intranet login via Oracle cloud, encouraging overall user experience.
Users can record performance and goals all within one portal that also integrates planning, budgeting and the ERP side of the business. Whitehead believes the entire end-user experience has been transformed and improved dramatically and general feedback has proven the system change has been a huge success for Cetera.