ERP@TECO: A Case Study


by Thomas Lord


 

TECO Energy’s vision for its enterprise resource planning (ERP) project was to consolidate its existing financial, materials management (supply chain management), and human resource management applications and systems onto a single integrated platform across TECO Energy’s businesses. This vision was supported and championed by the company’s officers.

This platform needed to be underpinned by a set of common business process models that could allow for the flexible configuration of current and future business logic, and would be capable of meeting the anticipated needs of the company. The solution would be required to support the introduction of future business initiatives while allowing for the centralization of back-office functionalities.

TECO built the project around SAP’s ERP solution, which combines centralized business-rule processing with decentralized accountability, giving employees the ability to conduct and perform their respective jobs in the most streamlined and efficient manner. SAP’s ERP solution enabled TECO to accomplish the following key objectives: 

  • Improve information flow across the organization. 
  • Standardize organizational business processes. 
  • Adapt quickly to market changes. 
  • Support current and future business needs. 
  • Integrate workflow and document management capabilities. 
  • Integrate multiple platforms and data repositories. 
  • Implement an advanced technology platform with open integration capabilities. 
  • Streamline IT infrastructure and support. 
  • Enable data-driven decision making through a single global reporting and business intelligence platform.

The scope of the project addressed the functionality needs of four of TECO’s operating companies, including a foreign subsidiary that operated in non-US dollars. All functionality was required to be on an “across-the-enterprise” basis. Before the project, this functionality was provided by a combination of countless manual activities, seventy-four interfaces delivered through a variety of channels, and twenty-six aged applications. As a mark of our project’s success, we sought to reduce the number of interfaces (to eleven instead of seventy-four) and roll the functionalities provided by the twenty-six applications and countless manual activities into the SAP product suite.

Approach

The project planning phase began in late 2009. We issued an RFP for the desired functionality and established a core team to execute a rapid selection exercise. The team recognized early on that outside assistance would be helpful in reducing the lead time needed to establish a comprehensive set of business requirements and evaluation methodologies. To that end, the team issued a separate RFP for a partner that had pre-established requirements and a defined evaluation methodology.

The team also engaged a partner to conduct the RFP selection process, one that brought to the table a full set of ERP-related requirements. An extended team reviewed and revised these requirements, limiting any revisions to the business functions and activities for which TECO had very specific needs. The partner adjusted its evaluation methodology to align with TECO’s particular circumstances and facilitated the entire selection exercise.

At the end of the ERP selection exercise, TECO resulted purchased and implemented SAP’s ERP solution, ECC 6.0 with Enhancement Pack 4, which provided the core financial, materials management, and human resources management functionality we needed. TECO also implemented SAP’s Enterprise Portal for Employee and Manager Self-Service (ESS/MSS), the Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) solution for external catalog procurement, and the Business Objects 4.0 solution, which included Business Warehouse (BW) and Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) for business reporting, planning, forecasting, and consolidating.

TECO engaged a systems integrator/solutions implementation (SI) partner that brought industry and technology experience to the project. Our approach focused on leveraging the business processes inherent in the ERP solution, which required few, if any, changes to be made to the software’s code. We coupled this out-of-the-box (OOTB) approach with specific tools, accelerators, and implementation methodologies, like SAP’s ASAP methodology for project implementation, which provided a proven set of stages, activities, and tasks that aligned with an OOTB implementation. The total duration of the project was sixteen months.

To maximize positive events and minimize the consequences of adverse ones, TECO utilized a three-tier governance model that included an executive committee, a program management office, and a number of project delivery teams. All three tiers worked together to identify, quantify, and respond to potential risks and issues throughout the lifecycle of the project.

The project delivery teams were staffed with a mix of resources from TECO’s business and IT organizations and from the SI. Early on, we identified the types of skills and number of IT resources that would be required to support the ERP solution after implementation, and we put these resources in place at the beginning of the project, pairing them with similarly skilled resources from the SI partner, so they could receive all relevant training. This not only gave these IT resources a valuable opportunity to gain hands-on experience, it also ensured that we wouldn’t have to rely so heavily on the SI for postimplementation support.

The team brought in additional IT resources to help with data migration, infrastructure design and build, and modifications to service desk procedures. Data migration began during the project’s analysis stage (“Blueprinting,” according to SAP’s ASAP methodology). Although this was well in advance of the identification of the final data set, we were able to get an early start on the migration because we had a sufficient understanding of the “core” data required for an ERP. Using SAP’s Data Services Solution, the data team was able to build data-cleansing and transformation rules in a manner that allowed them to be executed as needed to pull data from the source systems. Once the final data set was determined, the Data Services tool was used to complete the translation to the SAP-required format.

After the Blueprinting stage, the team executed its configuration and build activities and completed three integration test cycles (ITC) to validate the business processes and their associated data. (The data migration team provided “live” data for ITC 1, prompting the SI to comment, “This is the first time we’ve had real data prior to ITC 3.”) The team conducted a number of “dry runs” in preparation for go-live. Starting on Friday evening, June 30, 2012, the team worked in shifts throughout the weekend. By lunchtime on Sunday, July 1, 2012, the implementation was complete and had been approved to be made available for business use the following day.

Result

TECO’s implementation was on time and under budget, with a successful go-live on Monday, July 2, 2012. In addition to strategic, tangible savings, greater operational efficiencies, and improved risk mitigation, TECO’s enterprise-wide ERP solution has provided many strategic opportunities for improvement: 

  • A single vendor master that manages TECO’s spending across its business operations, according to the prices and terms negotiated with vendors 
  • A consolidated view of inventory that rationalizes and streamlines TECO’s inventory and associated spend 
  • Support for common electric and gas processes that support operational synergies

TECO achieved tangible savings due to direct reductions in annual IT maintenance costs, outside spend, and other items related to the automation of certain business activities, such as vendor payments via automated clearing house (ACH). By redirecting team members to higher-value-added responsibilities, TECO realized operational efficiencies. SAP’s ERP solution gives TECO the ability to move forward with these efficiencies while providing a foundation for current and future technologies and capabilities.

However, the most important achievement—one of the project’s driving concerns and one of the areas where TECO derived the greatest business value from the project—was that of risk reduction and mitigation. TECO’s legacy applications were completely customized technologies that required resources that were increasingly unavailable in the marketplace. By moving to the ERP solution, TECO successfully mitigated this risk and the risks associated with Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance, policy compliance, segregation of duties, audit trails, and systems access and security.

 

Thomas Lord has been in IT for more than thirty years. He began his career in England, where he worked as a systems programmer for the UK’s Census Office and in various IT roles with British Telecom. In 1991, British Telecom moved him to Atlanta to help launch a subsidiary company, Syncordia. Since joining TECO Energy in early 2008, Thomas has been engaged with addressing a wide range of technology platforms and duplicate business functionalities using defined processes, IT governance, and a structured development methodology. Thomas received his BSc in computer science from Queen Mary College (University of London).

Tag(s): case study, business alignment, process management, support center

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