Since 1970, Development Dimensions International, Inc. (DDI) has been helping hundreds of organizations around the world―including half of the Fortune 500 companies―close the gap between where their businesses need to go and the talent they must have to take them there. With associates in 42 offices in 26 countries, the company’s expertise includes designing and implementing employee selection systems and identifying and developing talent, from front-line workers to executive leadership.
Just as DDI helps its clients to develop and optimize their resources, the company is focused on doing the same within its own organization, including enabling effectively gathering and sharing information across its enterprise. A shared services model and paperless office environment are an important part of that strategy.
To advance this objective, the company upgraded its Oracle E-Business Suite environment to Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1, and rolled out Oracle Internet Expenses globally, as well as deployed a new imaging and document capture solution—Oracle WebCenter Content. The implementation enabled DDI to lay a foundation for expanding its shared services center of excellence environments across North America, Europe, and Asia; accelerate expense report review and approval processes; cut the costs and labor associated with managing paper-based expense transactions; and eliminate the need to photocopy, fax, and courier paper documents. It also reduced physical document storage requirements and costs, and enabled DDI to accelerate client-billable expense processing and invoice creation.
Further, the company achieved platform consolidation, reducing IT complexity by eliminating third-party legacy document management systems, and the cost of supporting them. DDI has now standardized on Oracle to further simplify its infrastructure, and it seeks Oracle solutions first when launching new initiatives.
DDI is working toward implementing a paperless office environment that will optimize efficiency and reduce administrative expenses across the enterprise―from invoice and expense processing in accounting, to employee on-boarding and benefit enrollment in human resources, to contracts in the legal department.
The organization realized that an imaging solution and expense management system that was integrated into its enterprise resource planning (ERP) environment was critical. DDI started this initiative with an imaging solution that tightly integrated with Oracle Internet Expenses to enable employees to create and managers to approve expense reports as quickly as possible to enable them to get back to activities that make DDI successful and profitable. Such a solution would also support DDI’s financial audit and transparency requirements.
The company previously used a third-party system to manage employee expenses, a solution that was extremely complex to maintain, as it was not built on a standards-based architecture. It also required complex integration with Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1, including 17 custom interfaces. Any upgrades required significant time and IT resources to complete.
As DDI continued to grow, it experienced escalating costs associated with searching, storing, and recreating critical, expense-related documents for its operations around the globe. Every year, employees spent thousands of hours and the company expended significant financial resources distributing client-billable expense receipts across several departments globally. This largely manual system delayed employee reimbursement and client billing and prohibited the rollout of shared services centers, designed to elevate efficiency and customer service.
DDI launched a multiphased initiative to accelerate expense processing and set a foundation for an expanded, shared-services environment. First, it began to upgrade to Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1 from an unsupported version.
As part of this initiative, it implemented Oracle Internet Expenses in North America to accelerate expense report submission, approval, processing, and payment, and control expenses with flexible audit tools. The solution automated the approval workflow and accelerated and ensured accurate expense attribution in client invoices. Users can access Oracle Internet Expenses through several channels, including a standard Web-browser interface. In addition, support for multiple currencies, as well as local tax, per diem, and mileage calculations, make Oracle Internet Expenses an ideal foundation for expanding the global company’s shared services environment.
At the same time, DDI began implementing a new document-capture solution. It deployed Oracle WebCenter Imaging, a solution that enabled the company to overcome the limitations of its legacy system with an open, enterprise architecture that facilitates a flexible deployment. As part of the rollout, it integrated Oracle WebCenter Imaging with Oracle Internet Expenses.
Oracle WebCenter Imaging operates as an infrastructure-supporting solution, as opposed to an application unto itself—so the company can leverage it as a shared service that extends wherever imaging is required throughout the enterprise.
DDI is benefitting from the solution’s advanced capture, intelligent extraction, and process-management capabilities. In addition, it takes advantage of the tight integration with application interfaces to streamline operations by exposing imaging and workflow capabilities by using familiar menus and hotkeys within application user interfaces. The platform gives users greater flexibility in capturing any type of information with software, including fax server, e-forms, data extraction, and ERP reports, as well as and hardware, including scanners and storage hardware.
“We are very pleased with the way Oracle WebCenter Imaging enabled us to achieve process efficiencies by capturing receipt images up front and making them accessible to managers and other approvers all along the workflow. We also like that we can retrieve the images, not only from Oracle Internet Expenses, but also from Oracle Payables, as well as within Oracle WebCenter Imaging itself. Making receipt images available immediately to users and approvers has enabled us to improve data integrity and transparency,” said Mike Fieldhammer, corporate controller, Development Dimensions International.
The solution has significantly reduced the time staff members spend retrieving physical receipts and documents, and enables DDI to run complex document searches in Oracle WebCenter Content, using advanced query criteria, a feature that is extremely popular with the company’s global invoice coordinators who work on client billable expenses.
The company’s integrated document capture and expense management system is yielding several efficiency gains. For example, DDI cut administrative costs associated with managing paper-based transactions, as well as operational costs associated with photocopying, faxing, and couriering documents. Further, the company decreased its physical storage requirements and costs. Moving forward, DDI looks to increase transaction volume and accelerate revenue recognition by reducing processing time for client-billable expenses.
In addition, DDI estimates that it is saving the equivalent of one full-time staff member in IT management. The team can now apply time it previously spent managing and maintaining custom interfaces to more strategic initiatives.
The out-of-the-box configurable solution features monitoring dashboards that provide DDI with real-time insight into process activity to identify and alleviate operational bottlenecks. In addition, the company gained the ability to track, access, and manage information more efficiently to assist with regulatory compliance related to information protection and privacy.
When it came time for the organization to select a new expense management system, it conducted due diligence and looked at available options. Oracle prevailed for several reasons, according to Bill Koch, vice president and chief financial officer, Development Dimensions International.
“Reducing integration complexity was one of our fundamental drivers for these initiatives,” Koch said. “As such, prebuilt integration between the Oracle solutions, coupled with their strong functionalties, factored heavily into our decision process. In addition, Oracle’s stability as a partner and vendor was also important.”
“Today, what we're really trying to do is have a standard-technology platform methodology, worldwide. Oracle will enable us to execute on this vision,” said Sunthar Tharmalingam, enterprise lead, Oracle technologies, Development Dimensions International. “We have had a great partnership with Oracle for almost 20 years. Today, if we need a new business application, we look at Oracle first to determine if it has a solution that complements our environment.”
DDI was the first organization to integrate Oracle WebCenter Imaging and Oracle Internet Expenses Release 12.1.3, and worked with Oracle Partner All Star Software Systems.
The project involved multiple phases, beginning with the upgrade to Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1 and Oracle Internet Expenses deployment, which began in June 2011. The company ran three pilots for its Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1 upgrades, as it changed its code block midstream.
DDI began to prepare for its Oracle WebCenter Imaging deployment in October 2011. The implementation went live on time.