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Talking Across Time Zones

A financials upgrade drives a complex project across regions and cultures.

by Carol Hildebrand
Iron Mountain, a Boston, Massachusetts-based information protection and storage company faced a daunting project management task when it decided to standardize globally on Oracle E-Business Suite 11i Financials. The new system would need to take the place of disparate financial systems for the company's 900 facilities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, with more than 18,500 employees in 36 countries. The complex project, which spanned cultures and time zones, also involved implementing Oracle iProcurement, Oracle Human Resources Management System, Oracle Advanced Collections, and Oracle Discoverer. Iron Mountain decided to partner with Oracle Consulting and Oracle On Demand to develop and implement a global Project Management Office (PMO) that would bring this mutimillion, multiphased, multiyear project in on time and within budget. Philip J. Cognetta, Jr., vice president of enterprise product engineering at Iron Mountain, says, "Our internal project managers engaged with Oracle Consulting to do a couple of important things: Set up a global Project Management Office and create a working project governance model that would take us through all phases of the project." Read how Oracle Consulting created a global implementation toolkit that can be leveraged for all the countries where Iron Mountain operates. The toolkit contains detailed project plans, meeting inventories, implementation schedules, test scenarios, technical specifications, and code, as well as the Iron Mountain global standard business processes, key business decisions, and configuration to be established across the globe.

Much has been made of the benefits of standardizing on one type of financial software throughout a company—more-consistent data, quicker response and resolutions, faster closings. But for a global company such as Iron Mountain, standardizing on Oracle Financials brought home the project management challenges involved in a hugely complex project that spans time zones and cultures.

The Boston, Massachusetts-based information protection and storage company knew that it had to address its software situation. Explosive growth over the past decade had taken the company to a US$2.4 billion entity operating more than 900 facilities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, with more than 18,500 employees in 36 countries. Along the way, Iron Mountain acquired a number of companies across the globe, each with its own financial system. As a result, the company had to deal with a complex maze of disparate financial systems that were difficult to integrate and costly to support. The organization needed to streamline its processing, removing antiquated or redundant systems, and standardize data and workflows across the organization. To resolve this challenge, the company decided to standardize globally on Oracle E-Business Suite 11i Financials, iProcurement, Human Resources Management System, and Advanced Collections; and Oracle Discoverer, by partnering with Oracle Consulting and Oracle On Demand.

"It became apparent that customized systems were difficult to support and expensive," says Philip J. Cognetta Jr., vice president of enterprise product engineering at Iron Mountain. "And as we expanded, it was clear that we had to start consolidating the 30-plus different financial systems in use. As a public company, we needed to be able to report accurately on our finances, but it was difficult to consolidate numbers from myriad legacy financial systems."

At the same time, the company's senior management wanted to refocus internal IT management and support groups on its core business operations and strategic projects—projects that didn't include the maintenance of financial systems. "It's not our core competency—it's time consuming and takes away from more-strategic initiatives, like supporting our customers' growing information protection and storage needs," says Cognetta. So as part of the financials project, the company decided to outsource the global financial applications to a single instance of Oracle E-Business Suite 11i on the Oracle On Demand infrastructure, along with allotting application support to an Oracle Global Support Center provided by Oracle Consulting's North American India Organization (NAIO) team, located in Bangalore, India. Since the company targeted Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil as the first countries to move onto the new systems, Cognetta was contemplating a project that involved team members in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, India, Boston, and the Oracle On Demand data center in Austin, Texas.

"We had to create a whole mind-set change so that everyone would think more globally and be more flexible in meeting times," says Cognetta.

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