Protecting jobs, not replacing people with automation, was an ERP system upgrade requirement by the Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It wanted efficiency without job loss.
ERP job- This is not your typical ERP upgrade story. The Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired needed a modern ERP system, but with a unique requirement. It wanted efficiency, but not in a way that would take away jobs.
IBVI is a Wisconsin-based manufacturing firm that makes a variety of products. One of its best known is its Skilcraft ballpoint pen, manufactured for the U.S. government since the 1960s. The company makes the pens, which contain parts that can withstand extreme temperatures, by the millions.
As the name suggests, part of the firm’s mission is to hire people who are visually impaired. It measures success on its ability to hire more people. Its technologies help workers do their jobs, whether in the office or on the shop floor.
But IBVI found itself hamstrung by its ERP system, a collection of different systems that didn’t communicate easily with one another. Processes were time-consuming and inefficient. Changing an employee’s address, for instance, took logging on to four different systems. An ERP upgrade was needed, and IBVI decided to start talking to systems integrators about how to do so.
The ERP upgrade objective was clear
“You see this floor?” Vouvakis would say to the integrators who were with him. “I don’t want you to touch any of these positions in here. The objective of this system is to make their jobs easier, not to find efficiencies.”
He would continue by saying the not-for-profit’s “job is to employ more people. It is not to streamline the company. It’s to create more jobs for people who are blind, visually impaired — not automate them.”
IBVI modernized its system with an Oracle ERP cloud, which gave the firm flexibility to introduce new shop floor technology.
IBVI’s systems were initially on premises but are now in the cloud. The firm wanted to end the maintenance and hardware upgrade cycle. “The idea behind this was to no longer have servers,” Vouvakis said.
They also changed their business processes. “We are upgrading all of our internal processes,” Vouvakis said. The system is live but the firm is still configuring its business processes to the system’s ERP best practices.