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Internal Strategy, Outsourced IT

Continued

Genworth: State-of-the-Art Flexibility

Like The Warranty Group, Genworth Financial switched to Oracle On Demand during a transition to organizational independence. The company, once known as GE Financial, was spun out of General Electric in a May 2004 initial public offering. "We had a rare opportunity to decide whether we were going to build our Oracle Financial and Oracle HR infrastructure," says Quentin Davis, CIO for corporate business systems. "We're a global company. There isn't an hour of the day where there isn't someone somewhere in the world working on Oracle on behalf of Genworth. We needed an infrastructure capability and a solution that would support a global operation. We wanted to make sure that we had a solution we could live with for a long time, and we wanted to have flexibility in our cost structure and not take on a lot of fixed costs to provide this capability." Davis considered building an in-house infrastructure as well as several outsourcing providers, then settled on Oracle On Demand for the combination of global capabilities, deep knowledge of the applications that Genworth's staff already used, and flexible pricing.

 

Pre-IPO, GE owned the infrastructure and supported the company's IT needs. Davis felt that Genworth employees needed more control if the company was going to be independent, but he was leery about making too many resource commitments. "The infrastructure and software management is at Oracle On Demand, but as far as the responsibilities for supporting the platform, that's with my team," he says. "My team can focus on value-added work like project management and customer engagement." When occasional problems crop up, Davis doesn't have to pull people off a project to find a fix. "That's all in the hands of the team at Oracle On Demand," he says.

"The transition has been going on effectively since 2004," Davis says. "One of the things that I think surprised most of us, at both Genworth and Oracle On Demand, is the complexity. We knew there would be a lot of moving parts, but there were even more moving parts and more details than we had thought." Realizing how complex the situation was, Davis felt more comfortable with the decision to go with Oracle On Demand, and he formed a strong relationship with Michael Beck, Oracle On Demand's global operations leader. "Likewise, we required that our teams form strong working relationships, so we were able to work through problems and work together to get this done," Davis adds. "And so now, it's almost seamless."

"We really don't have the typical vendor-client relationship. It's very strategic, very long-term focused. It's very easy for us to exchange ideas and information and solve problems going forward," Davis says. He had weekly meetings with his Oracle counterpart to work through strategic and tactical problems. "That line of communication allowed us to quickly surface and resolve problems so that our teams weren't bogged down trying to solve things they really couldn't solve," he says. "Things were quickly elevated to us and taken care of." Davis adds that team members were required to work with each other. "We didn't let people hide behind e-mails and phone calls and things like that."

Genworth employees who used the new system saw the conversion as an improvement. They received enhanced capabilities for their work, and system support is now more readily available. "They get to talk to people who know our business and what the needs are for this business," Davis says.

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