Brocade mulls Oracle shared services upgrade

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Brocade mulls Oracle shared services upgrade

Imaging system add-on used by shared services department could find broader use.

Switch vendor Brocade is looking to upgrade an imaging add-on for its Oracle ERP system that could be used to capture invoices received by its offices worldwide.

The MarkView software, developed by the Kofax-owned 170 Systems, is currently used globally for expense reporting and to scan hard-copy invoices from North American suppliers.

These suppliers included airlines, commercial real estate, office equipment and contract manufacturing fees for Brocade's switches and storage equipment.

Accounts payable and expenses worldwide are handled by a shared services operation based in Singapore.

Shared services also handles payroll for Brocade's EMEA and APJ regions. Responsibility for payroll in North America is handled stateside, according to the company's financial controller for Asia Pacific and Japan, John Bock.

The shared services operation uses a corporate instance of Oracle ERP housed in the United States.

"We hoped to have a mirrored image of that out here but that's not going to happen," Bock said.

Accounts employees access the Oracle system over an "almost T1" dedicated link.

Brocade maintains a small data centre in shared services for back-up processes.

Bock said that the MarkView add-on to Oracle's Internet Expenses was part of the reason Brocade was able to achieve a global average of 7.2 days from the time an expense claim was lodged to when it was paid.

The company pays employee expense claims in weekly cycles.

"We could probably save a little bit of money if we went to a monthly [payment] but then we'd have more employee dissatisfaction," Bock said.

"Frankly, one of my SLAs is to keep the team happy and the way to do that is to get their expense reports back to them."

Oracle iExpenses barcodes an employee's expense report and ties it to supporting receipts and bills that are scanned with MarkView.

Bock said the system makes it easier for managers to review and approve expense claims, since they can see not only the iExpenses report but also drill down into the supporting documents behind the claim.

MarkView is also used in accounts payable. The shared services organisation typically receives large volumes of hard-copy invoices sent directly from suppliers seeking payment.

"We get a huge volume of mail and courier packages that contain the documentation," Bock said.

"Once the documentation comes in for the US we scan all the invoices through MarkView. We then tally up all of the documentation and feed that into the Oracle accounts payable system. The system then sets up the payments.

"We currently don't use MarkView on the international side except for expense reports."

That could change if a planned update of the MarkView system, due out in December, passed beta tests at Brocade.

"There's definitely a plan [to expand MarkView's use]," Bock said.

"There's a major update to MarkView that's being done this December so we're waiting for that update to be complete.

"Once it is then we're going to start to tackle some of the countries. We'll do it on a case-by-case basis. We'll take two relatively high volume countries, and we'll try it there and see how it works and make a decision."

Bock said shared services processed approximately 31,000 invoices and 47,000 expense reports every quarter.

The organisation had about 40 employees, although only 14 were designated to process global payments.

Some acted as the international procurement arm of Brocade's corporate procurement organisation, which is based in the United States.

Statutory accounting teams for EMEA and APJ regions also sit in the shared services offices.

Ry Crozier travelled to Singapore as a guest of Brocade.

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