The integration of all the various modules is definitely the most valuable feature for us. We're a business outfit, so we have customers, we pay bills, and we look to Oracle primarily for products that can integrate into our existing system. If it doesn't, we look at something else, but we always start with Oracle first.
We use the billing module heavily. In fact, one of the things I was looking for were some of the new features in 12.2.4, which which include federal billing features. That's really going to be helpful for us and that's what we're upgrading to right now because we've had to have customizations before. We're hoping that the inherent functionality that we'll be upgrading to will allow us to drop some of our customizations. We try to keep our Oracle as vanilla as possible, so having those enhanced features is something that we're really looking forward to.
Improvements to My Organization:
For simplicity's sake, we like to cut down on the number of interfaces that we need. It makes upgrading easier because of the integration and it helps me to oversee things from a functional perspective. We are doing an upgrade right now, but it also makes it easier to plan for your upgrades and to follow through on those plans.
Room for Improvement:
We have project contracts for government customers, and that has been a little bit tougher to implement, because I don't think Oracle has a lot of clients on that. We implemented that about two or three years ago, but we haven't found a lot of people who are using it. What I'd like to see is not necessarily something in the functionality of the software, but rather a way to meet some of the other customers who are using the product, which would be helpful.
Also, we would like to do more with iExpense. We use iExpense right now for purchasing cards, but we do not use it for employee vouchers. I think we cannot use it two ways at the same time. We're using it right now for the purchasing cards, but we don't use it for employee vouchers. I think we would like to have more functionality in that area.
Use of Solution:
We've had it for twenty years, so it predates my tenure there. We're really simple; we are one legal entity, one operating unit, one ledger. We are embarking right now on implementing Multi-Currency as we do have some international business. We probably are going to do more with multi-org in the future, but we haven't started that yet. It's called Multi-Org, but it's not a module, it's just functionality. For example, we right now have one legal entity in the US. We just opened our office in Singapore, so if we have a need to establish a separate set of books for them, then that would be Multi-Org and we'd set up a new set of books for Singapore. But right now have everything in one US ledger.
I've been there six years and the only big thing we've really implemented is Project Contracts. Actually, we did hire an outside consultant, because that product is quite specialized. I don't recall there being any big issues with deploying that.
It's very stable. There's a little bit of bugginess in the billing area, but generally, because we've had it for so long, we've worked out a lot of our issues.
I think we still have enterprise licensing, for the most part, so it's easy to scale.
For one thing, we do a lot of work with the federal government, but the federal government isn't the federal government. It depends on which piece of the federal government you work with. Each of your customers in the government have different requirements and you really do have to do some customizations around billing. Because we have all these different federal government customers, some of them want the bills uploaded into a certain system that they have to process their bills, or they want the bills to be in a certain format and your other government customers don't need it in that format. We do a lot of things based on the customers’ needs, but I think the functionality in this next release is taking some of those considerations and putting them in the software, so they're there already. So the 10-34's and 10-35's that the government requires, their putting that into the Oracle functionality, whereas before we had to make those on our own.
It takes us a while, but we do things very methodically. We have not typically had outside consultants and we typically do our own upgrades. I think that that's a good thing.
I would advise potential user that, if they're implementing from scratch, to really, really learn the product before they implement. Oracle is known for certain decisions you make where you come to a point to either turn right or left, and if you turn right you can't decide later to turn left. I think some people try to slam things in and take short cuts, but I've done implementations in two different companies, and I've found that doing the slow and methodical approach and really planning it out is the best way to go.