As Chandrasekhar A. Yadati (Chandra), manager of Sherwin-Williams’ global enterprise resource planning team, and his Oracle professionals roll out and localize the company’s Oracle E-Business Suite applications to new sites around the world, they’re simultaneously bringing the company’s three Oracle instances—one for HR and global financials, one for business applications in the Americas, and one for business applications in Asia—to the newest version, Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1.2. The upgrade, Chandra says, will bring even more efficiency to the company’s operations—an important goal for a bottom-line-focused IT group.
“We are going to be in rollout mode for the next three or four years, so we want to get as far ahead on versions as possible,” Chandra says. Doing so will unlock capabilities and provide stability in underlying technologies—databases, operating systems, and hardware—that aren’t available to earlier Oracle versions.
But the changes aren’t just under the hood; the latest release of the applications themselves boasts many improvements over previous versions, Chandra notes. Some improvements are specific, such as the Golden Tax Adaptor feature (necessary for complying with China’s tax laws) and the Vietnamese language pack. Others are more general, such as integration with Oracle Product Information Management Data Hub and the ability to bring in general ledger information from legacy applications without the Oracle Financials Accounting Hub.
“There’s a lot of value in terms of retiring or replacing some of our old customizations,” Chandra says. “I’m using the upgrade as an opportunity to adopt a more standard functionality.”
And as a manufacturing business, Sherwin-Williams will derive benefits from Release 12.1.2 in both discrete manufacturing operations (by facilitating dual unit-of-measure and additional lot functionality) and process manufacturing operations (by enabling consigned inventory and Oracle Warehouse Management). “Release 12 removes a lot of the overhead that previous releases had for process manufacturing, in terms of maintaining inventory in two places,” Chandra explains.
Efficiencies will also flow up to the regional level, where shared services reside. “Release 12.1 brings a lot of value in terms of how shared services can be managed and how we can operate across a region,” Chandra says.
Sherwin-Williams’ Asia operations are already live on Release 12.1.2, and applications used in the United States will follow suit in 2012. (Upgrades must be timed to line up with annual or quarterly closes and other financial activities.) Employees throughout the company will benefit when everyone uses the newest release, Chandra says. “People can go from one [system] to another without significant differences,” he notes. “As a user or as a support person, your work becomes relatively easier.”