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Qatar Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that supports Qatar on its journey from a carbon economy to a knowledge-based economy. Qatar Foundation accomplishes this objective by unlocking human potential for the benefit of not only Qatar, but for the world.
The foundation carries out its mission through three strategic pillars: education, science and research, and community development. In 2002, Qatar Foundation’s senior management realized that its current, manually intensive operational methods could no longer meet the requirements and expectations of the foundation. For example, the manual process required to fulfill an employee’s annual leave request could take several days.
With an inability to accurately establish an annual budget for its nearly 3,000 employees to follow, Qatar Foundation began its search for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that was rich in functionality, could integrate with its established business processes, and would scale easily to meet future requirements.
Qatar Foundation’s education pillar supports world-class universities to help students develop the attitudes and skills that will ultimately help the country build a knowledge-based economy. Its science and research pillar focuses on developing and commercializing new technologies. Finally, the foundation’s community development pillar helps foster a progressive society while enhancing cultural life, protecting Qatar’s heritage and addressing immediate social needs in the Qatari community.
To support these critical pillars, the foundation decided that it needed a complete overhaul of its core business processes. With a focus on streamlining and automating its financial and human resources departments, including the payroll and purchasing processes, the foundation could realize a dramatic increase in worker productivity, accuracy, and, in turn, be better positioned to increase the overall quality of its services. With Oracle E-Business Suite, the foundation was able to meet its objectives.
“The deployment of the core functionalities of Oracle E-Business Suite spurred a major change in the organization,” said Sa’di M. Awienat, director of information, Qatar Foundation. “Our main challenge during this phase was to overcome established ways of working, including a certain resistance to accept an advanced, automated ERP system.”
“Nevertheless, once people started using Oracle E-Business Suite, with its enormous capabilities, they saw the benefits in their daily work and did not want to go back,” explained Sa’di M. Awienat. “They suddenly had much faster access to information than before, and they were able to create and customize reports.”
With its core competencies and processes automated and improved, Qatar Foundation decided to stabilize the system usage. Knowing that employee acceptance and comfort were a critical success factor, the foundation only proceeded to install additional Oracle modules once its employees had adapted to Oracle E-Business Suite and the process changes it afforded.
As a result of the first phase of the Oracle implementation, Qatar Foundation was able to decrease transaction processing times, which substantially reduced existing error-prone, manual processes—such as employees’ annual leave requests.
“As soon as we had improved user uptake on the core modules, we initiated the second phase, implementing and rolling out supplementary modules,” Awienat explained. These included Oracle Inventory Management and PeopleSoft Campus Self-Service.
Qatar Foundation leveraged Oracle Inventory Management as a single, global inventory management solution for material at every stage of the product lifecycle, thereby significantly improving visibility and increasing inventory accuracy.
Using PeopleSoft Campus Self-Service, Qatar Foundation enabled students to enter requests for financial aid while allowing faculty and staff to grant and assign funds to eligible students transparently and always according to the foundation’s established business rules.
Qatar Foundation then shifted its focus from back office operational excellence to enabling end-user self-service and providing innovative value propositions. Qatar Foundation aimed to establish a Web-friendly environment, leveraging the internet to improve direct collaboration with internal and external users.
It also implemented Oracle iProcurement to simplify and enhance the entire procurement system and deployed Oracle iSupplier Portal to optimize supplier collaborations.
With Oracle iProcurement, Qatar Foundation enabled its employees to create, manage, and track their purchase requests in an intuitive Web interface that leveraged users’ experience with consumer sites, while the foundation’s central purchasing retained control. Oracle iProcurement’s parametric search capabilities through multiple catalogs with advanced sorting and filtering functionality helped to significantly increase the efficiency of the foundation’s purchasers.
Oracle iSupplier Portal enabled Qatar Foundation to structure its key supplier communications through a secure, internet-based portal. The foundation’s suppliers had immediate access to the latest information, including purchase orders, delivery information, and payment status. The rich, two-way collaboration enabled suppliers to process shipping notices, review payments, and update profile data. The platform for online collaboration made the foundation and its key suppliers more efficient in their business relationships.
Qatar Foundation is especially proud of its procure-to-pay cycle that links customer purchases (Oracle iProcurement) and vendor interactions (Oracle iSupplier) to the foundation’s Account Payables Department. This full integration of inventory and connection to the SWIFT (society for worldwide interbank financial telecommunication) network has virtually eliminated all manual processing. Having the ability to pay suppliers accurately and promptly, not only creates positive working-relationships, but saves the foundation processing time, which substantially reduces the total cost of paying an invoice.
Qatar Foundation is one of very few nonfinancial entities having such a system in place, pioneering in Qatar and beyond.
Qatar Foundation also developed a payment gateway, which integrated its Oracle E-Business Suite deployment with the SWIFT Network (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), a global financial messaging network that exchanges messages between banks and other financial institutions. This pathway enabled Qatar Foundation to issue payments directly from within Oracle E-Business Suite.
As it enhanced business processes across the board, end user satisfaction continued to improve. As a result, the organization’s systems were able to support much more traffic and application usage. Users were afforded better availability and performance.
In 2008, Qatar Foundation added Oracle Real Application Clusters architecture and activated several Oracle Database options, including Database Vault and Oracle Data Guard. These greatly improved the availability and security of the foundation’s databases.
In 2011, with the engagement of Oracle Advanced Customer Services, Qatar Foundation has upgraded to Oracle Real Application Clusters 11g and Oracle Database 11g, providing higher performance, better compliance, and faster failover.
Previously, Qatar Foundation’s manual processes not only took an excessive amount of resources, but also rendered it unable to respond to employee requests and queries. For example, the manual process for facilitating an employee’s annual leave request could take several days.
During this period, the requesting employee received no feedback or status update and would not find out about his or her request until it was approved or rejected. Once Qatar Foundation automated this process and moved it online, the cycle time for leave requests significantly decreased, and all involved parties had visibility into the status at any time.
Qatar Foundation estimates that this process improvement alone has saved 230 staff-days, effectively freeing up a full-time employee for more meaningful tasks.
“At Qatar Foundation, we aim to select and deploy robust technologies and solutions that fulfill the needs of our business stakeholders,” Awienat said. “But more importantly, we are eager to partner with companies that have reliable support and service models to ensure continuous improvement and enhancements to our service and technology portfolios. This is why we have partnered with Oracle since 2002.”
Working closely with Oracle Advanced Customer Support Services, Qatar Foundation decided on taking a phased approach during its journey of modernizing the foundation’s information technology systems, to reduce the impact on its employees. This approach enabled the foundation to consolidate deployments before adding modules.
Throughout the implementation process, Qatar Foundation’s IT Directorate committed to continually responding to the demands and concerns of its employees to ensure system acceptance and to optimize integration.
The current phase of Qatar Foundation’s implementation includes the deployment of value-added services, such as Hyperion Planning, Siebel Events Manager, and Siebel Contact Center.
The aims are to enhance the financial and human resources planning cycle to build better decision-making supporting tools for the Qatar Foundation’s board of directors.
Also, the organization aims to further improve interactions with customers by offering new communication channels, and ultimately improving the quality of service.
Advice from Qatar Foundation