Oneida chooses SAP, iSeries to improve fiscal health

Flatware distributor Oneida will consolidate its various systems to SAP All-In-One on an IBM iSeries.

Oneida, a distributor of stainless steel flatware, is feeling the financial pinch, and executives there hope an IT overhaul will help the company gain control of its various operations.

Named for the city in New York in which it is headquartered, Oneida is moving quickly to streamline its IT operations as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Several acquisitions left the company with multiple disparate systems, according to Rob Hack, senior vice president and chief information officer. Part of Oneida's solution, he said, is to centralize operations around one global ERP system to get better fiscal oversight.

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"Acquisitions resulted in numerous systems but, more importantly, our business model changed," Hack said. "We were a manufacturing company that became a sourcing company."

Oneida chose to move off its legacy manufacturing software onto IBM Express mySAP All-In-One software. The software will be hosted on an IBM AS/400 iSeries system and DB2 database management system. Oneida purchased the SAP software from IBM through SAP's partner program for the midmarket. The software is tweaked for Oneida's new sourcing model, Hack said.

SAP has been restructuring its channel partners, easing sales guidelines to eliminate sales wars between resellers in the small and midsized markets. The SAP All-In-One strategy encourages partners to build out industry-specific versions of the software.

With expanding global operations and net sales last year of more than $500 million, Oneida is the type of midsized company that finds All-In-One industry specific functionality appealing, according to SAP executives.

"The partners have taken it down a level to hundreds of more granular vertical categories," said Paul Hamerman, vice president of applications research at Forrester Research Inc. "Their strategy appears to be working."

For example, instead of a version of All-In-One for manufacturers, SAP partners create versions tweaked for paint manufacturers.

SAP is also planning to tweak the look and feel of the All-In-One software to make a more intuitive interface for midmarket businesses.

At Oneida, the selection involved finding ERP software that met its new operating model, Hack said. The company took an accelerated path to its selection process, looking at software from Chicago-based SSA Global Technologies and SAP. Oracle was ruled out, Hack said, because of uncertainty around its various acquisitions.

"Oracle acquired a bunch of key companies, and we felt that if we went down that path we could be staring at a reimplementation at some point in time," he said.

Speed was of the essence, Hack said, because streamlining Oneida's IT systems is a large part of getting a handle on the company's overall financial health.

The company began the selection process in June and recently finished a validation process to finalize the scope and create a blueprint for implementation, he said. IBM will work with Oneida to begin implementation this month.

In addition, the company chose Logility Voyager software for supply chain management, Hack said. The systems are expected to go live in January.

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