What is most valuable?
The most valuable features are straight-through processing because we need to make sure that we have a good end-to-end process. The biggest thing that we also look for is the ability to easily research invoices, where you can attach to the specific invoice line item the detailed payments, etc. We look at it as our biggest factor.
It's important that we can constantly be able to monitor what we've spent relative to the government's money. We always make sure that we have everything in proper order since it is not our physical money. It is somebody else's.
We are an integrated contractor, which basically means that we are contracted by the United States government to operate a program specific to their needs, and to ensure that the program is spending their money correctly, and to make sure that we come in on-budget or even under-budget for the government. We would definitely need to ensure that whatever we do is very much in line with all of the government polices and regulations. We need to ensure that a software that we utilize adheres to that.
How has it helped my organization?
The biggest thing that we utilize EBS for is mainly Finance and HRMS. Those are our two biggest modules that we utilize within EBS. So we want to make sure that whatever we are utilizing it for will be easy for the employee to gain access to say, their HR data, or for our acquisition management department to be able to see where the invoice stands in the process of being paid. Those are just a couple of examples.
What needs improvement?
It is still a little outdated as far as what we consider a twenty-first century software. You're still using Oracle forms, that sort of thing. Payables is a prime example: there's the web interface and then the forms interface and we hate having to switch between the two areas. To create a simple report, at least in my opinion, sometimes requires a developer versus just me, as the user, going in and doing what I need to do. It's extremely difficult to do some data mining on a whim. If there's something repetitive in nature, then we can set it up with a developer, it works, but in our opinion we know that things could work better than the way they are currently.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
We've really had no issues with deployment.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The current version that we're on, which is 12.2.4, is decently stable. However, the problem is that the system doesn't allow for us to have a lot of users on it. The hardware that we have is able to run beautifully when there's not a lot of people on. I equate it to, 'The machine's a Ferrari, you can't tow a boat with a Ferrari.' Essentially, the system will go fast when it's allowed to go fast, without the bogging down of users, but that's one of our problems right now. It seems to be that multiple users on the system have caused a lot of back-log.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
So far, it seems like we can do a lot of things with EBS relative to customizations. We don't seem to have any real restriction in that area. But some things like, me as the cash manager, setting up banks tends to be a lot more cumbersome than it should be. There seems to be a lot more involvement with doing those types of basic things than they should be in the real-world sense. It seems to be a little bit more like it was geared towards a developer to set up the bank rather than a professional.
How is customer service and technical support?
Since I'm not the support side of things in the organization, I don't directly deal with technical support, but there are people, such as DBAs and developers, who have been in talks with Oracle about some of the issues. They didn't seem like they had any real problems other than some of the solutions are a little slow to come about. It could be because our organization is very unique, some of the solutions that might need to happen could be a little bit more involved with trying to develop a solution that we need. I don't think we've had a situation, however, where we weren't able to get the needed support.
How was the initial setup?
I wasn't actually at the company at the time, but for upgrades for which I've been apart, they did seem to be a little bit more difficult. A lot of it could be on our end, mainly because of how we do a lot of customizations. We had to do these customizations, unfortunately, because E-Business Suite didn't allow for a specific industry like ours to have more to an 'out-of-the-box'-type of developed software. There was a lot of customization. Now, they have improved from version to version, but for our business, we're still very much away from being cloud-based. Our software sits on a non-internet network. It really is hard for us as an organization to sometimes do business in the environment of, 'Everyone wants to move to an internet system', i.e. the cloud. There are organizations such as ours that have trouble at this point being on an internet-based system.
With our customizations, it stopped a lot of the upgrade that we just had last year. When we did the upgrade, a lot of these customizations were a constant battle where one would not work, another would work, and then when you'd fix one, something else would happen. There were a lot of issues, which we are, as an organization, trying to pull away from customizations. Oracle has not really been geared a lot towards what our line of business was. We have to do a lot of customizations in order to allow for that software to work as we need.
What other advice do I have?
Minimize your customizations if you can. If not, get a lot of training because a lot of the screens are not as intuitive. I'm kind of a rare breed, I guess, as I do have some 'IT sense', so I can maneuver through screens, but when it comes to other people in my group who are really not 'IT minded' at all, they're usually asking me for help when there are some set-ups in their own modules. Setting up is the biggest key, and if you mess that up it's going to propagate the rest of your EBS experience, so you need to have a proper set-up.