How the American Red Cross saves HUNDREDS of data maintenance hours every year!

Jamie Lynn Weingard, American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that provides disaster relief, lifesaving blood, international services, training and certifications as well as assistance for military personnel. It is part of the world’s largest volunteer network and is found in 187 countries.

As such, the American Red Cross has ongoing needs to integrate new line(s) of service into the Oracle E-Business Suite. This means a large number of data cleanup and conversions. There is also a large need for post go-live maintenance to help keep the different lines of services working productively with Oracle E-Business Suite.

In the past, there were many customizations to help facilitate the data requirements of the different lines of business. However, constraints on personnel meant the end-users had to wait for long periods of time for the relevant data to be created or updated. This was a real problem for the organization, and we needed to find a more efficient, time-saving way to help with data processing. Especially since our IT team and associated support staff are so small in numbers. We have:

  • Technical Staff; 4 developers for the entire organization
  • Production Support;  2 members support all EBS modules

Ideally, we’d be able to remove many of the customizations and give control of the data back to the end-users rather than having it sit with our already resource stretched IT personnel.

The volume of data changes required at the American Red Cross is large, especially when you consider the number of personnel we have available to do the work. The table below provides some idea of the scope of work:

Price List Customer Supplier Inventory
Active 1,919 Primary lists (avg 142 items) 245 Secondary lists (avg 177 items) 10,831 Customers 11,480 Sites 3,155 Accounts w/Balances 50,000 Suppliers 55,000 Sites 18,000 items
Monthly Charges 4,215 new lines 4,733 lines charged 30-50 new customers 110-150 updates 620 New 3,500 Updates 2-20 New 1,200+ Updates
Periodic Mass Changes Collector DFF Terms Salesperson Deactivations - due to inactivty Pay Groups Deactivations - Due to inactivity Record Cleanup Price and Expense Updates Assigning Items APO Items
Processing Time (before solution) 14 People with Part-time Responsibility 145 Hours 1,814 Hours 36.5 Hours
Processing Time (after solution) 2 Part-time people for coverage reasons only (50% more efficient) 21 Hours 596 Hours 4.65 Hours
Choosing a Solution

We looked for applications to meet this requirement and after investigating we found the More4apps Wizards were the only full end-user solutions to meet our requirements.

Key features that we liked were:

  • Quick Implementation
  • IT Requirements were met from our IT process and security questionnaire
  • Little IT effort to install Wizard(s)
  • Ease of Use
  • Low cost of investment

By using the More4apps solutions across a number of our departments we were able to simplify the processes necessary to make successful changes to the data in Oracle E-Business Suite.

Installation Process – Price List Wizard

The installation process was simple for More4apps and was performed by our DBA in less than a couple of hours. They also provided a trial key and since it was an Excel spreadsheet on the front end, we didn’t need to install anything extra to get it working.

Connecting the Wizard to test instance of Oracle EBS was simple too as their software uses the standard Oracle E-Business suite login, all I had to do was set up the URL and assign users to the wizard (all done within Excel).

Some of our end-user staff are not technical at all, while others have enough technical knowledge to be “dangerous”. Users with a good working knowledge of the inner-workings of the Oracle E-Business Suite should have no issues using the Wizards as the main skills required are standard Excel cutting and pasting.

Trialling the Price List Wizard

In testing the Wizard,  we downloaded full price lists and partial price lists using the Wizard feature to only download currently active list lines.

Next, we used the upload functionality to not only update some of the existing downloaded data but to create new list lines and whole new price lists. It was all very easy to use.

The spreadsheets also automatically configure to your Descriptive and Advanced Pricing Qualifier Flexfields setup, so it was nice to have features like this work without any additional setup required.

Once changes are indicated in the Excel file, validation and upload is very simple and quick.

Customizing the Price List Wizard

Another feature that we really liked was the way that the end-users could customise the Template, by doing this we could exclude the columns/fields and sections which we didn’t use. 

We created custom templates for:

  • New Price List
  • End Date Existing Item – Add New Start Date & Pricing
  • Basic Price List – Download
  • Extended Use – combines various updates into one
Price List Wizard Results

We achieved our goals with the purchase of the Price List Wizard. By using this tool we eliminated the use of the custom price list program which meant we could remove the IT maintenance cost for this program.

It also reduced in manually processed changes extensively and allowed the Revenue Billing Division to take full control of the end to end price list process, not only that but they have gone from 14 part-time people working on pricing to just 2 part-time personnel. It could be done by 1 person but we wanted to have a backup.

Customers

Customer Setup Challenges Oracle’s user interface for customers is complex and powerful but is difficult for end-users to use, especially when making a large number of updates. Just like for pricing we needed an easier way to create and update customer data.

This is where the More4apps Customer Wizard came to the party. It allowed us to manipulate customer data quickly and easily all from within Excel.

Customer Wizard Installation

The setup and installation for the customer wizard were virtually the same as the price list Wizard since the More4apps Wizards share the connectivity, we only needed to install one package on the database.

It also had very similar features to the Price List Wizard and we were up and running in no time at all.

Customizing the Customer Wizard

As with the Price List Wizard, the customizing of the spreadsheet to remove the columns and sections was easy. In the end, we created multiple templates, but the key 3 we use are:

  • Update – Collector – Customer and Site Level
  • Deactivation – Party, Customer and Site Level
  • Customer DFF – Site Level

Web Intelligence / Business Objects For the Customer Wizard we also use Web Intelligence/Business Objects to run reports of the specific customers we wish to update based on logic we have which segregates out customers by business units. This saves us time downloading information using the Wizard as we have a very distinct set of customers to modify; meaning we can make changes more effectively and quickly.

Customer Wizard Results

Just like the Price List Wizard, there was a marked reduction in manual data processing of customer changes by the Revenue Team. The updates were performed within hours, not weeks and again we could remove the additional costs in time and labor of the IT department as they no longer needed to write scripts to make mass changes. Below are the timing changes we experienced.

Data Updated: # of Records Update Method Time per Item Time to Update All
Time to Update All 584 Manual 1 min 10 hrs
De-activation - Entire Record 7,213 Manual 2.5 min 120 hrs
DFF Site Level 882 Manual 2 min 15 hrs
Data Updated: # of Records Update Method Prep Time Run Time SAVINGS
Time to Update All 584 Customer Wizard 1 hr 2 hrs 7 hrs
De-activation - Entire Record 7,213 Customer Wizard 2 hrs 8 hrs 110 hrs
DFF Site Level 882 Customer Wizard 2 hrs 2 hrs 11 hrs
Suppliers

We were faced with very similar issues when dealing with the Supplier Master Data as customers. Again Oracle had provided a feature-rich User Interface, but it was slow and difficult to navigate and we needed something more efficient.

Following on from the success with the Customer and Price List Wizards we decided to try out the More4apps Supplier wizard. Again the setup was a piece of cake and in the end, the biggest task was customizing the spreadsheet layout.

Customizing the Supplier Wizard We created custom templates for:

  • Vendor Edits – Add
  • RES – Real Estate Suppliers
  • ACH – Banking Information
  • Approved/Regulated Vendors – Header DFF
  • Employees
  • Additional ones have been configured however will not be part of today’s presentation
Supplier Wizard Results

Just like the Price List and Customer Wizards we experienced another large reduction in manually processed data. We also had changes being done in hours not weeks with the elimination of IT from the update process. The table below shows the efficiencies we achieved:

Data Updated:# of RecordsUpdate MethodTime per ItemTime to Update All
Sites De-Activated80,000Manual0.75 min1,000 hrs
Site Address Updates31,000Manual1 min517 hrs
Suppliers De-Activated18,000Manual0.5 min150 hrs
Suppliers Created3,520Manual2.5 min147 hrs
Data Updated:# of RecordsUpdate MethodTime per RecordRun TimeSAVINGS
Sites De-Activated80,000Supplier Wizard0.25 mins333 hrs667 hrs
Site Address Updates31,000Supplier Wizard0.25 mins129 hrs388 hrs
Suppliers De-Activated18,000Supplier Wizard0.25 mins75 hrs75 hrs
Suppliers Created3,520Supplier Wizard1 mins59 hrs88 hrs
Inventory Items

Our last major area of data maintenance was with Inventory Items. Again we found another More4apps product of use to us. It works just like the other three wizards and was easy to install and customize for our use.

We created templates for:

  • Price & Expense Items
  • Assigning Items to Organizations
  • APO Items

Item Wizard Results Again the efficiency gains were impressive as per the results in the table below:

Data Updated:# of RecordsUpdate MethodTime per ItemTime to Update All
Price Updates260Manual1 min4.5 hrs
Item Assign958Manual1.25 min20 hrs
Expense Account Updates566Manual1.25 min12 hrs
Data Updated:# of RecordsUpdate MethodTime per RecordTotal TimeSAVINGS
Price Updates260Item Wizard0.15 mins0.65 hrs3.85 hrs
Item Assign958Item Wizard0.15 mins2.5 hrs17.5 hrs
Expense Account Updates566Item Wizard0.15 mins1.5 hrs10.5 hrs
Conclusion

We considered various options, including improvements to our custom processes and using development platform tools but in the end, we decided on software that required very little input from our IT department as they were already overstretched. We expected some functional improvements for the end-user teams but what we have achieved has far exceeded our expectations.

With the reduced work effort, we’ve been able to reassign our staff to more productive, beneficial and enjoyable work, which is a huge bonus for a non-profit organization such as ourselves. I also found the support we received, and continue to receive from More4apps to be second to none. They have expert staff on board who understand Oracle’s functionality and were able to help us through the trial process.

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