At Dekalb County, the most valuable feature of E-Business Suite is the integration of all the different modules. It's truly become our financial database from a projects and procurement point of view. It's all connected and logical.
Oracle has clearly brought experts to the table for the their design and development roles. In the early days, E-Business Suit was comprise simply of programmers' coding, but that's not their model anymore. I like that Oracle's brought in experts who know payables, who know what CFO's want to see, etc. They've got real-world experience and it shows because when you stand it up for the first time, it's an absolutely useable system. From that perspective, it's 100% worth the investment.
For example, sub-ledger accounting was new to release 12. If I am an international company or I want to deal with a company outside of the United States, they record things a little bit differently in their accounting. If I want to value my company and I have inventory in the United States, we put that on our books. I could have $100 worth of inventory, so therefore my company looks like it's $100 better than maybe Italy, but Italy doesn't record inventory on their books. It's not an asset.
So with E-Business Suite, Oracle has built a product from which I can make entity/business decision adaptations without changing the underlying code.
Improvements to My Organization
What sub-ledger accounting allows me to do is recreate the accounting structure, so I could still have my primary books, which is in US GAAP, but I could have secondary books. Now that I'm working in county government, where E-Business Suite really helps is with cash management.
Room for Improvement
I am fine with where E-Business Suite is now. From a county standpoint, I would like to see them integrate fund accounting into fixed assets and cash management. Right now, E-Business Suit really isn't 100% public sector. I guess we're not the market to roll out to.
Also, I'm not impressed with the out-of-the-box analytics. It's really the bare minimum.
Moreover, out-of-the-box, Oracle E-Business Suite's cash management module does not do fund accounting. It puts a strain on our accounting staff because the data doesn't really represent properly, but I was able to get it to work by using sub-ledger accounting to redefine the delivered Oracle out-of-the-box method.
Use of Solution
I've been using E-Business Suite since 1989.
We've had no issues deploying it.
Whether we have stability issues depends on how long a module has been out. With the evolution of E-Business Suite, each new module has had its hiccups and challenges. The longer the module is out, however, the more stable it becomes. This has been our experience with GL, accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, cash management, and fund accounting.
The frustrating part of that is because it's new, you don't have the expertise out there to pull on. You could call Oracle support and yes, they're going to help you eventually, but one of the things that the user group gives me is, I know people who know GL, accounts payable, etc. I can reach out to my network, but I don't have a network on new products.
So the answer to the stability question is both yes and no.
E-Business Suite is scalable. We don't have to worry about it at my organization, but I know from my prior consulting experience that it's absolutely scalable, from mom-and-pop shops to large multi-national companies.
Customer Service and Technical Support
I have up and down days with Oracle support. Like anything, it depends on who your support analyst is. They have some phenomenal analysts. Unfortunately, the lifespan, as I understand it, is only maybe 18 months. They come to know this product inside and out, but then they go on to do other things. If I look at it realistically, here we only call support when there's an issue. We're always complaining. If I was on the receiving end of that, 18 months of listening to complaints might get old. There are the people who can answer my questions and who will get it done, and then there are those who don't.
Actually, I'm dealing with a support ticket now. I have had to on multiple occasions put in the ticket 'read my question' versus what I think is happening. I don't know if it's a computer that spits out the first few e-mails, but it's "hello, my name is X, Y, Z", and as a business, you get sick of the same old stuff. I need this resolved and, honestly, the time it takes for me to log into Oracle support and read the stock e-mails has become extremely frustrating.
The setup to me is straightforward, but I've been using it for so long. For a new person, I don't think that companies could use the software without consulting help of some sort. You need to understand your business. There are very good consultants who could come in and they will ask you the right questions to help drive the setup. They're decisions that need to be made that, if wrong, you can still live with. But, there are other, more critical decisions that you make that you can't undo. So is it easy to set up? Physically going into the screens is as simple as can be. The question really needs to be, how much time do you need to put in prior to sitting down to set the system up? You really need to understand your business and you need to understand what you're trying to do.
We had outside help, but what causes problems is the fact that when you're a company and you're looking for new software, you are sitting there and you're saying, "OK my old software doesn't quite do what I want," so you want to buy something else. You go out, you do your RFP, you decide you're going to get E-Business Suite. The problem is, the experts at the company know their business. They also know their business using their old system. The consultants that they get to come in, they know E-Business Suite, but they don't know your business. The two don't always mesh correctly. What I've noticed over the years is you end up re-implementing the old system you just came off of. You're not utilizing all of the neat features that E-Business Suite has.
If you haven't implemented it and are considering purchasing it, don't be afraid of it. Go ahead, jump in. Oracle is a phenomenal company and they will stand behind their product. The best advice is to take your time, know your business, and don't always take 100% judgement from your consultant. Use their advice, but listen to that little voice in your head of what you know as well. Have a good collaboration between you and the consultant. Don't try to do it on your own.
The last piece of advice and what many companies fail to do is the education portion. I can't tell you how many companies I've gone into to do training only after they've gone live. And it never fails that they've scaled back their education to save money. Like where I am now at Dekalb County, they never train the end users. These end users know absolute basics to get by, but they don't know all the great tools. Even though once it's implemented, they need to keep learning it. Just because you've implemented a product, you're not done. Now, after it has settled down and you've used it, you can go and see what else your product that's live can also do. So remember to get educated.