Article

Master Lock picks Oracle CRM

Robert Westervelt, News Director

With pressure from foreign competition increasing, Master Lock Co. recognized the need to make some sweeping technology changes to modernize its business processes and improve product innovation.

Several years ago, the company implemented a technology infrastructure program it called "System One." The idea was to rid itself of the plethora of ancient legacy systems, and small databases, that filled the company's IT network.

Under System One, the Milwaukee company eliminated more than 80 interfaces and 90 small databases, said Jim Johnson, director of corporate information services at Master Lock.

"There was just so much complexity that we were drowning in it all," Johnson said.

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There was just so much complexity that we were drowning in it all.
Jim Johnson
director of corporate information services Master Lock

That project led to Master Lock becoming an Oracle database customer. In 1995, Master Lock purchased Oracle's order-entry applications. The company upgraded to 11i E-Business Suite in 2001, and it later installed the manufacturing planning and procurement systems on 11i.

The company's most recent deployment is an implementation of Oracle CRM, and the Oracle Application Server portal technology, which the company is using to help improve its external business processes.

"When we looked at our customers, and our items and pricing, we were looking to analyze an extension of our system, not to create a whole new system," Johnson said. "We wanted to keep leveraging the data we already were investing within the Oracle applications."

The company planned a system-wide upgrade, Johnson said. This allowed the implementation team to oversee the conversion of the E-Business Suite at five company locations simultaneously.

"We successfully implemented best practices, and we coordinated going live with all our sites at the same time," Johnson said.

Johnson said the most important improvements to result from the CRM project involved the company's supply chain, which was streamlined to help support product innovation and customer service.

The improvements allowed the company to communicate directions for new products between a manufacturing facility in Mexico, distribution centers in Louisville, Ky., and a plant in Milwaukee. The company, which previously had not extended its product line very far beyond the padlocks it had been manufacturing since 1924, was able to introduce several new product lines as a result of the improved communication, Johnson said.

"We're currently working on acquisitions and expanding our distribution capability right now, and that's due to our streamlined, consistent processes," Johnson said.

When companies are streamlining systems, they often turn to a CRM vendor, said Sheryl Kingstone, senior analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group.

"The whole goal for CRM is to have an integrated view -- and if you can lower complexity and total cost of ownership by going with one suite like Oracle, then it's the nail in the coffin," Kingstone said.

While some critics maintain that Oracle's CRM products are simply E-Business Suite applications that have been renamed, Kingstone said that Oracle's CRM offerings have come a long way since its first release.

"We're talking about an industry undergoing a lot of change and, with that, businesses need to keep all their options open and should give Oracle a look," Kingstone said.


FOR MORE INFORMATION:

See our Featured Topic on E-Business Suite 11i.

See our Featured Topic on upgrading Oracle.

To provide feedback on this article, contact Robert Westervelt.

Several years ago, the company implemented a technology infrastructure program it called "System One." The idea was to rid itself of the plethora of ancient legacy systems, and small databases, that filled the company's IT network.

Under System One, the Milwaukee company eliminated more than 80 interfaces and 90 small databases, said Jim Johnson, director of corporate information services at Master Lock.

"There was just so much complexity that we were drowning in it all," Johnson said.

That project led to Master Lock becoming an Oracle database customer. In 1995, Master Lock purchased Oracle's order-entry applications. The company upgraded to 11i E-Business Suite in 2001, and it later installed the manufacturing planning and procurement systems on 11i.

The company's most recent deployment is an implementation of Oracle CRM, and the Oracle Application Server portal technology, which the company is using to help improve its external business processes.

"When we looked at our customers, and our items and pricing, we were looking to analyze an extension of our system, not to create a whole new system," Johnson said. "We wanted to keep leveraging the data we already were investing within the Oracle applications."

The company planned a system-wide upgrade, Johnson said. This allowed the implementation team to oversee the conversion of the E-Business Suite at five company locations simultaneously.

"We successfully implemented best practices, and we coordinated going live with all our sites at the same time," Johnson said.

Johnson said the most important improvements to result from the CRM project involved the company's supply chain, which was streamlined to help support product innovation and customer service.

The improvements allowed the company to communicate directions for new products between a manufacturing facility in Mexico, distribution centers in Louisville, Ky., and a plant in Milwaukee. The company, which previously had not extended its product line very far beyond the padlocks it had been manufacturing since 1924, was able to introduce several new product lines as a result of the improved communication, Johnson said.

"We're currently working on acquisitions and expanding our distribution capability right now, and that's due to our streamlined, consistent processes," Johnson said.

When companies are streamlining systems, they often turn to a CRM vendor, said Sheryl Kingstone, senior analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group.

"The whole goal for CRM is to have an integrated view -- and if you can lower complexity and total cost of ownership by going with one suite like Oracle, then it's the nail in the coffin," Kingstone said.

While some critics maintain that Oracle's CRM products are simply E-Business Suite applications that have been renamed, Kingstone said that Oracle's CRM offerings have come a long way since its first release.

"We're talking about an industry undergoing a lot of change and, with that, businesses need to keep all their options open and should give Oracle a look," Kingstone said.


FOR MORE INFORMATION:

See our Featured Topic on E-Business Suite 11i.

See our Featured Topic on upgrading Oracle.

To provide feedback on this article, contact Robert Westervelt.


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