Oracle: The Tag-AlongBy Joshua Weinberger | Posted 2003-04-01 Print
Dossiers: Though iExpenses performs basic functions, some customers say that if it weren't for the link to its larger cousin, Oracle Financials, iExpenses would be riding the bench.
Remember that outfielder whom you let onto your baseball teambut only because he was your cousin?
That captures the sentiment of many companies installing Oracle's Internet Expensesor "iExpenses"to automate expense-report processing. Though iExpenses performs basic functions, some customers say that if it weren't for the link to its larger cousin, Oracle Financials, iExpenses would be riding the bench.
In 2001, Debbie Cook went straight from using Excel spreadsheets to Necho for Enbridge's expense management, despite a full-on Oracle deployment at the natural-gas utility. It was Oracle's plans that she questioned. "We asked how much [Oracle] had committed [to the module] in R&D, and they wouldn't tell usso we didn't have any faith in it." As it was, iExpenses "did not meet our needs"such as "being able to split line items between separate financial codes" and "accepting data feeds from two separate credit-card companies."
Cook also was dissatisfied with "the way that Oracle figured out tax calculations: Canada's brutal about taxes, and it wasn't able to split them out the way we needed." In the end, expenses were only "a little part of our bigger financial strategy," so it was easy to bring in Necho on top of Enbridge's Oracle platform.
But Manu Rekhi, CEO of retailer WineGlobe, says he's ready to toast Oracle. "Instead of spending money on integrating, we've been able to be on the same platform," Rekhi says. He credits iExpenses with allowing him to locate trends in employee spending and maximize sales leads. John I. Haas' Kyle Lambert sees that side of the argument, as well: "Of the 30 or so steps that needed to be taken [to implement iExpenses] there was really only one thing left to dosetting up the Web site. The 29 others had been done because we'd already implemented Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and General Ledger"all Financials modules.
Lambert had tried Expense ExpressOracle's prior attempt at expense managementand there "was a lot of resistance" with employees, he says. "It was very difficult to customize the look and feel." So with iExpenses, "we were a little hesitant," thinking "we'll have to do a lot of work." But Haas was up and running right away. The City of Las Vegas is still using Expense Express. "We'll look at iExpenses when we [upgrade] to 11i," says the city's Debbie Phillips. "But if it ends up as a separate [application], we might rethink [buying] it."
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