Kunio Hasebe of Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Agilent Technologies says the second time was a charm for his company's massive IT project. Hasebe, vice president and general manager of business technology at the semiconductor company, succeeded upon his second attempt to eliminate over 2,000 legacy and home-grown application systems in a cost-cutting measure. The main goal of the massive IT project was to gain control of its global supply chain. In the end, Hesebe said Agilent also wanted a computer system that could be managed by less experienced, younger employees. "We needed the old-timers around. They knew the systems and this was very costly to us," Hasebe said. "We needed to make a move, but we tried to take a big-bang approach and it didn't work too well." Speaking to a group of hundreds of Oracle users at Oracle AppsWorld 2004 last week, Hasebe explained that Agilent chose Oracle's 11i E-Business Application Suite and began working on synchronizing data.. At first, Agilent took a top-down approach, with Hasebe's team coordinating with senior managers the synchronization of complex data systems to a single Oracle application server. Then came a tough lesson for Agilent. "We learned that this had to take place at the lowest level," Hasebe said. "There was just so much data and the senior managers were only taking eight hours a day working on it. It didn't work." The company changed its approach and instead created four teams to conduct the project in four phases. The teams consisted of the employees closest to each legacy system. That plan was effective, and most of the work was completed in three years. In the next two months, the company plans to power down the last 300 legacy machines, thereby ending the company's reliance on its antiquated application systems. The only machine in operation will be a single Oracle application server in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Hasebe said. As expanding companies deal with more orders and growing product lines, they're dealing with more suppliers and manufacturers, creating increasingly complex data to organize, said Meredith Whalen, vice president at research firm IDC. By reducing the number of systems it's relying on, Agilent has better knowledge of its supply chain and has greater control of its suppliers and partners, she said. "As time goes on supply chain management is getting far more complex then ever before," Whalen said. "As companies think globally gaining better visibility of the supply chain will become even more important."
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