From legacy distrust to robotic arms and executive dashboards – OFSi’s cloud ERP story

SUMMARY:

Convincing your oil and gas organization to go cloud isn’t always easy. OFSi’s IT manager told me how he made the move to Acumatica – and how he used dashboards to get buy-in. Next up: connected manufacturing and robotic arms.

OFSi robotic arm – action shot

It’s the last day of the Acumatica Summit. Yuri Dorovskikh, IT Manager at OFS International LLC (OFSi), is sharing one of the ultimate signs of cloud ERP buy-in. That’s when your CEO becomes dependent on that data for dashboarding:

It’s like the business is completely changed.

For the CEO, it’s the Acumatica-powered Power BI dashboards the stir his drink:

He doesn’t really work with Acumatica. Occasionally, he logs into Acumatica just to check. But he uses Power BI. We built special dashboards for him; the whole business is in front of him. Everything. He loves this thing.

But it wasn’t always like this:

Before Acumatica, he didn’t have any information, so he went to the financial department, or accounts receivable, or the Controller, and said, “What is our revenue?” So he’d send him an Excel spreadsheet, or write it on a piece of paper. The CEO was like, “No good.”

That put Dorovskikh’s team on the spot:

He called us down.

Dorovskikh is no stranger to pushing change. He’s been in disruption mode ever since he entered the oil and gas industry.

Confronting the inefficiencies of the oil and gas industry

It’s really a story about trust – and how you go about building it when your IT department starts with a shoestring budget. From the moment Dorovskikh entered the oil and gas field, he knew he’d be rowing upstream sometimes. As he told me, it’s an industry that’s a little set in its ways. Even if a process is inefficient:

From the beginning, my interest was oil and gas… Global energy is my specific interest… Oil and gas is split into two categories: older people, and very young. There’s nobody in between, actually. So, I’m kind of this cohort of the younger people… The industry’s very complex, and highly inefficient. It’s one of the most inefficient industries I ever been involved with.

Dorovskikh gave me an example from his first days in the field. It involved a pipe measurement that’s done in inches, but the measuring tape used for the pipe is only in increments of feet and half a foot. He was shocked:

Plus or minus one feet – that’s a good 10 percent. I thought, “Is that the highest that they can achieve in this industry?”

When he started with OFSi five years ago, Dorovskikh found the same challenges in their IT processes. OFSi, which provides oilfield services to the oil and gas industry, was in rapid growth mode – 200 employees and counting. Their acquisitions had brought in head count – and debate about which ERP systems to use. He was once asked to quickly set up a manufacturing system for 40 employees, without any provisions for an inventory system.

The case for cloud ERP – “I cannot manage infrastructure”

So Dorovskikh started the hard way. He built an Excel spreadsheet with all of OFSi’s pending IT projects – about fifty in total. He promised the delivery of one per quarter. But even then, he had a better plan in mind. The catch? He wanted everything in the cloud. At first, that was a hard sell. Security was the early objection, but Dorovskikh pressed on:

I’m a single IT guy, so I cannot manage Exchange. I’m sorry. I cannot manage infrastructure.

Eventually he got the strategic approval to go cloud. He was knee deep in a massive ERP evaluation, from Sage to NetSuite to Dynamics. But it was Acumatica that stood out. The functionality, including manufacturing from JAMS (now called Acumatica Manufacturing Edition), was a fit. But it was price that solidified his internal sales pitch. The other contenders were asking $300,000 and (much) higher. Dorovskikh had already promised the executive team he could do it for less:

I said, “I can do it. If you give me some time, if you’re patient, we can do it within 100, between 15 and 100k. Just give me the money right now.”

Turning the Controller into an Acumatica advocate

Acumatica’s pricing lined up with Dorovskikh’s budget. But it was the platform and licensing that stood out: “Acumatica’s platform was beautiful. We could see that immediately.” Dorovskikh’s deal with Acumatica allowed him to purchase perpetual licenses: “Everybody looked, and everybody liked it.”

One crucial advocate? OFSi’s new Controller. The prior Controller had his own software agenda, but the new Controller was an Acumatica convert:

He was crazy about Acumatica. He was like, “I’ve never seen software like this.” He basically clicks the Excel file, clicks a button – he gets a chart of accounts. He modifies everything, clicks another button, uploads it back. And he’s like, “Wow.” He was blown away.

The Controller was instrumental in delivering the core financials during the implementation. On January 1, 2016, OFSi went live on Acumatica. But what about those dashboards that achieved so much buy in? How did he pull that off? Dorovskikh taught OFSi’s financial director Power BI, who built the dashboards for the CEO. And what would be an example of an effective dashboard?

Recently, the finance director wanted to look at the delays on the orders shipped. He built the dashboard by pulling data from sales orders into Power BI, which then compares the promise date and the ship date. The finance director then applies a weighted average, or customizes it further for the CEO view. For Dorovskikh, it’s another example of process simplification – which goes hand in hand with the IT simplification still underway. Dorovskikh walked me through some dashboards:

There are many, many drill-downs. Every single visual element is interactive.You can click that, drill through, so, it’s a real system. It’s not just a fancy dashboard.

The wrap – robotic arms and executive trust

Dorovskikh has some nice notches in the win column. He’s managed to get rid of most of their legacy IT spaghetti; the only systems he supports now are Office 365 (for email), Sharepoint online, Microsoft Azure, Active Directory and Acumatica:

There’s like nothing else. I don’t worry about anything else.

He also cleaned up operating systems: it’s all Windows 10 now.

Before, most of the machines had Windows XP only. We got rid of this junk.

But with all that, there are monster projects ahead. Dorovskikh’s next steps? Acumatica project accounting, as well as installing/integrating an MES (Manufacturing Execution System). And that’s where OFSi’s robotic arms come in. Though OFSi is in the early stages of automating its manufacturing, their current robotic process (pictured above) has an important safety component: it eliminates the need of the operator touching the coupling.

For Dorovskikh to achieve his connected manufacturing vision, he’ll need to get that arm incorporated into an MES, and get that tied into Acumatica. He had some progress on this at the Acumatica Summit, talking to Acumatica ISVs who might be able to help:

Once our Acumatica and MES systems are linked, then the robotic piece is integrated. [We’ll be able to see] the exact number of couplings the robotic arm pushed into the machine.

His goal is clear:

I want an automated factory.

Dorovskikh acknowledged he has another sales job ahead; and skeptics to convince. But there’s one big difference. He’s now got leverage:

I have a huge, how do you call it, trust… I don’t have to fight with anybody anymore.

That trust didn’t come easy:

It took me about four years to get to this point. Now they say, “This guy’s not crazy. He actually can deliver the information that I need.” That’s a real game changer for the business. Acumatica really helped me a lot.

Image credit - OFSi robotic arm action shot - from OFSi web site.

Disclosure - Acumatica paid the bulk of my expenses to attend Acumatica Summit 2018. Acumatica is a diginomica premier partner NetSuite is a diginomica premier partner.

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