Engraving and Printing ready to build on ERP success

Thursday - 5/10/2012, 10:07pm EDT

Ask the CIO - May 10, 2012

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing can boast about an accomplishment few others in government ever will be able to. BEP completed on time and on budget an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Peter Johnson, BEP chief information officer, said the BEP Enterprise (BEN) replaces the bureau's business and core financial systems.

"We've hit all of our milestones. We are now live with Oracle," he said. "We've also integrated financials, procurement, manufacturing and supply chain management. We've also terminated a 25-year-old mainframe running COBOL. We are now a 21st century modern manufacturing environment, which was my objective when I started here five years ago."

The bureau started the ERP effort in 2009 and successfully completed it in 2011. The federal landscape is littered with failed ERPs, whether it's the Defense Department's Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIHMRS) or the Homeland Security Department's twice-failed Emerge system.

But Johnson said BEP succeeded where others failed for two main reasons. The first, he said, is the bureau used modular or agile contracting where they bought segments of the system at a time. Secondly, Johnson said BEP used a firm-fixed price contract, which helps them manage risk.

"The days of a monolithic program, that's a five-year program where you put everything on the table, doesn't cut it anymore," he said. "You have to take small steps. You have to do your requirements, your analysis, your build, your test and put something in place. Then you go back and build the next increment."

Johnson said the biggest benefit is the integration of BEP's manufacturing environment that brings data about finances, procurement and printing together in one place.

"People can sit at their desks and see the presses run. The manufacturing managers can see exactly what is happening on the manufacturing floor," he said. "We are collecting a tremendous amount of productivity data--data on maintenance activities on the presses. Plus, we are integrating the back end with financial and procurement integration. We've moved from a paper-based organization to one where everything moves electronically. We have workflow in place so we can see exactly where the organization is. It's a tremendous modernization in just a couple of years."

The bureau also is using cloud technology for the ERP. Johnson said the decision to go with the cloud was an easy one. He said the security of the system met BEP's requirements. It would cost less than half of what it would take to run it internally. And, Johnson said, the efficiency of having someone else take care of the servers, databases and software made it more worthwhile.

"It was a very easy and cost efficient decision," he said. "It's a managed service provided by Oracle."

Johnson said he can breathe a sigh of relief now that the heavy lifting of the ERP system is done.

He said BEP will continually add functionality over the next year or more, but it shouldn't be too complicated because of the way they initially developed the system.

Johnson said one of his new priorities is using analytics and business intelligence tools with all the data they have.

"We have a whole new environment to go looking at new business and manufacturing relationships we've never had the ability to do before," he said. "Part of the priority going forward now that we have implemented the ERP system is to mine and harvest the data and look for relationships that weren't apparent to us before."

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