Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Roka Bioscience Connects Oracle Systems with a Little Magic

Despite the impressive intentions of “Enterprise Resource Planning” (ERP), most businesses today still only use ERP systems to manage accounting transactions. Product lifecycle management (PLM) systems have emerged to fill in one of the gaps that ERP systems leave behind: the need for a system that manages the complete product lifecycle from idea, through research and development, prototyping, manufacturing and phase-out. Unfortunately, much of the information managed by ERP and PLM systems overlap and the systems don’t share information easily. Roka Bioscience, a food safety company that manufactures assays used to test for salmonella and listeria and other pathogens in food products, tried to connect its Oracle Agile PLM system with its Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP system and found out just how difficult ERP to PLM integration can be.

The Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system guides Roka’s product development through final product manufacturing and is where Roka stores all its product lifecycle information; documents, design history file (DHF), manufacturing records, parts, bill of materials (BOM), etc. Roka also relies on Agile PLM for all their Quality Management System (QMS) information. JD Edwards, the ERP system, uses a lot of the same information as Agile (item and catalog numbers, lot information, serial numbers, BOM, suppliers among other details). Instead of doing manual double-entry which takes time and can introduce costly transcription errors, Roka decided to integrate and automate the two systems so that once information is approved in Agile, it can flow into JD Edwards.

Roka decided to use an Integration Pack to connect the systems. However, over a course of a very frustrating year, the integration failed – repeatedly. Roka had to find something else. Via a simple Google search for the word “integration,” Roka Bioscience Senior IT Manager Daniel Churco discovered the Magic xpi Integration Platform. After discovering that Magic xpi had verified JD Edwards and Agile PLM users, they selected Magic xpi as their integration platform to connect JD Edwards and Agile PLM. True to the name, it worked like Magic.

Magic xpi is an enterprise-grade integration platform with native certified adapters for Oracle JD Edwards products along with other leading IT systems. It supports Windows, Linux, AIX, IBM i, and Solaris. More than 50 technology adapters allow it to integrate a wide variety of operating systems, databases, and standards including Web services, messaging, FTP and directories, LDAP, .NET, Java, RPG, and HTTP, among others.

“We couldn’t find many companies doing Agile to JD Edwards integration. When Magic came in with a proof of concept and showed they could do it, we were thrilled. Because Magic xpi is system agnostic and has achieved Oracle Validated Integration for JD Edwards, its code-free, metadata-based approach, with a visual drag and drop studio allows us to work with the multiple systems easier than using native Oracle tools or custom integration,” said Churco. “The GUI lets you look at your flows and understand them visually. It really helps build the project and makes trouble shooting a lot easier than looking at lines of code.”

The Agile to JD Edwards project is also very important for QMS purposes and as such is critical to Roka’s business. This required them to do a lot of testing before production. “We’re taking our time,” continued Churco. “If you include the previous failed projects, this integration project has taken us over two years; however only 9 months were needed to integrate Agile into JD Edwards via Magic.”

 

The next phase of the project is to automate business processes that can be aided by the integration of JD Edwards into Agile. For example, tech support data is currently entered in JD Edwards, and the same data must be manually entered into Agile. Churco expects this project will go even more quickly because the base is already in place. “The current approach is extremely time consuming and is at risk of introducing transcription errors, which is an administrative burden and a compliance risk,” said Churco. “The information must be transferred into Agile so it can be formally assessed and managed by Roka’s Quality Systems department.”

Since his discovery of Magic xpi, Churco has been depending on it to integrate many areas of the business, beyond the Agile-JD Edwards-Agile projects. One completed project was creating automatic customizable email notifications to customers of order placement and shipping from JD Edwards. They couldn’t generate an acceptable email through JD Edwards itself because the tables weren’t available.

Another recently completed project, with the help of Magic’s Professional Services team, connects Roka’s JD Edwards system to an outside vendor: FedEx. Roka ships nearly 100% of its products through the shipping giant. Initially, clerks had to manually input every order and address into the FedEx system, which increased risk of errors and increased labor costs and time delays as well. “The ability to go from JD Edwards to FedEx improves the quality of the order management project and allows employees to better dedicate their time,” added Churco.

Summing things up, Churco says, “We foresee many other integration projects with Magic down the road, including integrating JD Edwards with Salesforce.”

Glenn Johnson is a Senior Vice President at Magic Software Enterprises, Inc. Active in the software industry since 1984, he frequently speaks at industry conferences and writes for numerous publications.

This project was also written about in Automation World http://www.automationworld.com/system-integration-supply-chain