As part of a full-scale transformation and cloud-first strategy, our client was upgrading to Oracle Cloud ERP. Besides moving from on-premises to the cloud, they were overhauling their entire financial backbone, including their chart of accounts and contract management system, and adopting electronic expense reporting as well as a new project accounting module. They were looking for a project manager who would partner with leadership for a successful implementation, someone they could count on to execute—without missing any beats—and engaged RGP.
The high stakes and high expectations were enough to keep any CFO awake at night.
“These kinds of transformations or upgrades are once- or twice-in-a-career opportunities, so it’s an emotional decision.” our client’s CFO says, noting that the risks associated with the $20M+ project were top of mind.
Any transformation of this magnitude would be complex, but because of the nonprofit nature of the organization and volunteer-led culture, there were some unique challenges. Unlike a typical business, where you’re focused on increasing shareholder value, our client’s overarching goal was to keep the hundreds of volunteers happy and productive. That meant developing a system that would be very intuitive and easy to use while still allowing for the flexibility they were accustomed to.
Nimble Execution: Delivering Next-Generation Finance
This is just the type of challenging scenario where RGP excels, bringing in precisely the right people, with the right expertise, who are ready to roll up their sleeves and make things work. For this initiative, we brought in more than 20 talented consultants from multiple disciplines—from program management and change management to technology and digital experience.
In this case, the linchpin was Balaji Bondapalati, VP, Business Technology. He’s not only a highly skilled PM who can adeptly manage a complex array of teams and workstreams, but someone with a calm and steady hand who’s able to establish credibility and trust.
“Balaji isn’t just a technical guru,” our client says. “He knows the end game. He knows where things could go wrong. He understands where the money is, how it gets here, how it gets posted, and how it winds up in a financial statement. And he was very good at synthesizing complexity and ambiguity.”
Technology, Processes and People: Weaving the Threads Together
Even though Balaji and the rest of the RGP team were brought in to support the Oracle Cloud ERP implementation for the financials, this initiative involved multiple aspects of our client’s finance organization, including their technology infrastructure, core business processes and, most importantly, people—the volunteers who keep things running smoothly.
“Everything was changing, and it was kind of Herculean, based on the number of users and the timeframe we had to get it all done,” recalls Bill Van Sickell, RGP VP, Business Technology. “They really weren’t leaving anything untouched.”
Technology: The first big technology challenge was the legacy infrastructure that the Oracle Cloud ERP was replacing. Over time, technology systems had grown in a piecemeal fashion, so they were difficult to integrate and maintain, with disjointed user experiences that were often not comprehensive.
Processes: Our client’s organizational structure is siloed—each business unit has its own set of systems and processes, which had been highly customized over 20 years. So it’s very difficult to establish common processes like you would see in a typical business organization.
People: Because most of the stakeholders and system users are the unpaid volunteers running the organization, our team had to keep the volunteer experience in mind for everything we designed. It’s one thing to have a volunteer component, but in this case, volunteers were everything.
Any organization that’s been through a big implementation knows there are going to be a lot of gaps. Working with our client’s system integrator, RGP was able to fill those gaps. We provided program and project management and change management, as well as training to support the testing and configuration design.
And because the volunteer experience was critical to delivering a successful initiative, we also tapped into the digital experience expertise of Veracity, an RGP company. They developed a dashboard that simplified the process for completing day-to-day tasks—from training and onboarding for the new system to entering budget information and submitting expense reports.
Becoming a Part of the Virtual Family
The engagement kicked off just as the COVID-19 pandemic locked everyone down, which meant managing the entire full-cycle implementation remotely. Our client says that made it even more important to maintain constant communication and keep everyone engaged.
“We felt Balaji was a member of the virtual family. We talked to each other at 6:30 in the morning or 8 at night,” he says. “Now, we’re wondering what life will be like after Balaji—he’s just become part of the team.”
And even though they never met face-to-face, Balaji built confidence not only with the staff, but also with the Board of Directors and their oversight committee and ad-hoc committee on implementation, delivering monthly and quarterly reports showing they were on track to deliver on time and on budget. “Balaji and, by extension, RGP have done an excellent job of supporting us,” our client says.
The people part might be the biggest challenge, but it’s also the key to success.
Ultimately, Balaji and the RGP team brought all phases of the project in for a smooth landing—on time and on budget. “I just saw the opportunity and connected the dots,” Balaji says humbly. “The real success story from our perspective is that every single resource we brought in is fantastic. They know the role, and they just hit the ground running.”
For other organizations planning this type of transformation, our client advises having someone like Balaji holding the reins. And the human chemistry aspect? “It’s everything.”