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General Dynamics is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments, and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and mission-critical information systems and technology. As one of General Dynamics’ 13 business units, General Dynamics Information Technology (IT) provides IT, systems engineering, professional services, and simulation and training to customers in the defense, federal civilian government, health, homeland security, intelligence, state and local government, and commercial sectors.
As a leading systems integrator, General Dynamics IT manages thousands of complex programs for its government customers. However, it lacked a single platform for planning, financial management, and budgeting across its divisions—resulting in an inability to compare accurate, consistent forecast data against actual performance or to quickly update project plans to meet required timelines and budgets.
To help address these challenges, the company turned to Oracle, implementing a full suite of Oracle Hyperion enterprise performance management (EPM) applications.
Prior to the EPM initiative, General Dynamics IT faced a number of pain points within its planning and management processes, for which is used a mix of Oracle Hyperion and Cognos applications, in addition to numerous Excel spreadsheets. Inconsistent integration of its planning processes and tools had limited what-if and scenario analysis. Limited detailed and total company-level reporting made it very difficult for users to view and analyze data, and make timely decisions based on that data.
“We had data quality issues throughout our disparate reporting systems and our teams spent too much time gathering data and not enough time on delivering value-added analysis, which is important to the planning process for our complex government programs,” said John Monczewski, director of business intelligence, General Dynamics Information Technology.
General Dynamics IT knew it needed to establish a standard process across the business and leverage a single tool to manage this new process. It wanted to establish an enterprise view of planning and reporting data across the business unit and deliver accurate, complete, and timely reporting on planning and actual information. Finally, it needed a flexible platform that could quickly incorporate additions or changes to business structures and reporting hierarchies.
The company implemented a full suite of Oracle Hyperion solutions—including Oracle Hyperion Planning, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management, Oracle Hyperion Financial Reporting, and Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management—rolling it out to approximately 500 users across the business unit. General Dynamics IT also deployed Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition to approximately 200 management users.
General Dynamics integrates data from multiple enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems—including Oracle E-Business Suite—Oracle’s PeopleSoft Human Resources, and various business development applications into its EPM system. It refreshes much of its data weekly, providing more accurate, timely information to its planning users, who manage finances and give program managers critical information on project performance.
“The benefits from a departmental management perspective are significant,” Monczewski said. “Our department heads can look at budgets versus actuals in Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition. They can view employees’ time entries to see how they are mapping against departmental goals. And, we have been able to significantly improve sales forecasting accuracy.”
Monczewski continued: “The key thing is the speed of the information. Before it used to take two weeks after our monthly close to compile the data across our numerous systems to examine budget versus actuals. Now we can do it in one day.”
With a single source of data in its Oracle Hyperion applications, General Dynamics IT’s managers have improved visibility into program performance, so they can make corrective changes if necessary. The system has also provided a platform to easily add future functionality to address business demands and integrate acquisitions more quickly.
In addition, Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition offers user-friendly dashboards that provide guided analysis to relevant information and enable managers to drill down from high-level metrics to transaction-level detail.
As a contractor serving the Federal government, General Dynamics IT must submit government forward pricing (predetermined delivery price) rates—essentially, its billing rates—each year for the following year. It is critical that the company develop these rates and can prove how it develops them. From a compliance perspective, the company must be able to trace actuals on a monthly basis to make sure it is in line with what it originally proposed—across thousands of projects.
With Oracle Hyperion Planning, General Dynamics IT can develop these rates much more quickly and accurately than it could previously with its Excel-based processes. When the organization closes its monthly books, it can release its planning and budgeting reports the very next day. If there is a rate fluctuation, General Dynamics IT can immediately examine it and adjust as needed. In addition, because the application is online and refreshed regularly, the company can ensure that its rate data is auditable.
“With our Oracle Hyperion applications, we have been able to accelerate the pace for developing forward-pricing rates. This is critical. As a government contractor, if you do not have rates, the impact across the business would be significant,” Monczewski said. “We give people time to react, analyze information, and write better commentary to support rate changes. We can now meet our submission deadlines consistently—which enables us to bill more quickly.”
In addition to supporting General Dynamics IT’s four divisions, Monczewski’s group supports eight other General Dynamics business units that have implemented planning solutions.
“We do not have a corporatewide mandate to use Oracle. However, we do work with divisions across the enterprise to demonstrate the value of Oracle Business Intelligence and Enterprise Performance Management to assist people in understanding how these applications can help address their business challenges,” Monczewski said.
The successful implementation of the Oracle EPM application suite at multiple General Dynamics business units has created the opportunity to form a Business Intelligence Collaborative (BIC) across the entire company. The realized benefits from the company’s initial implementations—including the one at General Dynamics IT—have laid a strong foundation for working with other business units that seek to address similar business issues.
Prior to General Dynamics IT’s implementation, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems—a sister business unit—had conducted a large scale Oracle Hyperion implementation. It had run a rigorous selection process, ultimately selecting Oracle’s enterprise performance management and business intelligence tools based on performance and advanced functionality.
“A key criterion was Oracle’s ability to handle complex allocation logic as a replacement for our Cognos application,” Monczewski said.
General Dynamics IT started its implementation in 2007, deploying Oracle Hyperion Planning in 2008. Then it deployed the rest of the Hyperion applications to support financial statements. The company used Oracle Database to build the entire infrastructure to pull in actuals and create the required business logic. In 2009, the company implemented Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition to generate all budget/management reports, rate reports, and financial reports.
General Dynamics IT used Oracle User Productivity Kit and worked with Oracle University to develop training materials on the new applications.
General Dynamics worked with Peloton, an Oracle Platinum Partner, on the implementation of Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition and critical enhancements to the Hyperion solutions.
“We work with Peloton based on their in-depth knowledge and experience with Oracle Hyperion and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition. It serves as a trusted partner, providing consistently great people to support the success of our implementations,” Monczewski said.
The Business Intelligence Collaborative and Peloton have partnered to run robust change management and training programs. This effort includes establishing a comprehensive communication strategy at the start of each initiative that includes all stakeholder groups.