At a rapidly growing company in a highly competitive industry, Alain Habel has built a high-performance, thriving, and cost-optimized team. As the manager of corporate application management services at AltaGas, Habel’s goal is to ensure his team feels supported, empowered, and connected to the energy infrastructure company’s vision. He explained, “AltaGas is very dynamic. We challenge the narrative every day, and we invest in innovation. My team works to provide better analytics to enable more informed, faster decision-making.”
He continued, “We have always strived to nurture a transparent work environment, to foster a resilient team that has the confidence to weather both internal and external stressors.”
It’s a goal that has been recognized not only by his own team members but also by AltaGas executive management. Habel received three C-suite letters of appreciation for his exceptional leadership.
Status Quo on the Back Burner
Since joining AltaGas in 2015, Habel supported its growth from a fledgling company to a CAD$22 billion North American energy powerhouse. He advised, “If you don’t like change, don’t join the oil and gas industry.”
Habel has a good point. During his seven years with AltaGas, the company has made an impressive string of acquisitions, survived a JDE 9.2 in-house ERP system upgrade, ridden out the pandemic, adapted to a mandatory work-from-home order, and managed the perpetual pressure on IT budgets.
“Like most organizations, we need to identify cost savings and IT is expected to bear a lot of that effort. It’s about identifying the projects that enable opportunity, transform the business, and optimize existing investments,” Habel stated.
Dissatisfaction Fuels Change
Cultivating an agile, proactive, and motivating environment, Habel believes that driving efficiencies frees up resources, which in turn can fuel productivity and innovation. A prime example is AltaGas’ Oracle JD Edwards (JDE) EnterpriseOne ERP system, which was supported by Oracle when Habel came on board.
He recalled, “My experience with Oracle support was always a bit rough. The price tag is high, but you can’t just compare sticker prices. Oracle will only support what they provide, and we have customizations that are critical to our business that they just won’t touch. We needed more flexibility.” He successfully made the case for moving to an independent, third-party enterprise support provider.
Firing Up Quick Wins and Lasting Benefits
At the time the switch was made, the IT organization had been asked to deliver CAD$1.7 million in savings as part of a company-wide cost-cutting initiative. The transition away from Oracle support enabled Habel to immediately contribute nearly half of that goal and take pressure off his peers. The move also helped him to instill an elevated degree of rigor and discipline into the group to ensure that every expenditure delivered a tangible impact on the business.
“The immediate 50% off our annual maintenance contract was the tip of the iceberg. There was a lot more beyond that: We now had ongoing support for our customizations, no more forced upgrades –with all the ensuing testing, dependency verifications, and parallel running — coupled with the ability to maximize the value of our existing investments. These are all significant, below the waterline benefits,” Habel said.
Igniting Dexterity and Innovation
The move to a third-party support provider for JDE delivered rewards that, along with mammoth cost-savings, are meaningful and enduring. The shift gave his team greater autonomy to adapt to change and directly contribute to the business.
Habel shared an impressive example. “Our organization had been working on a long-term Microsoft Teams adoption plan, but the pandemic required us to bump-up our timelines dramatically. Because we weren’t burdened with maintaining JDE anymore, our team had the available cycles to accelerate system testing, assisting the organization in implementing Teams across the entire company in just one week,” he explained.
Deeper individual engagement was another byproduct of liberated time. Habel said, “Analysts had more latitude to choose benefit-focused projects suited to their interests and skills. This generates increased satisfaction, which results in improved retention. Plus, they enjoy the kudos that come from managers acknowledging the extra effort that you naturally invest in something you care about.”
There’s proof his approach works. “I’ve had zero attrition in three years within the ERP team. Even through the pandemic, we were able to keep everyone engaged and maintain operations as usual,” Habel revealed.
Rimini Street: A Power Partner
Habel articulated, “If you are spending your resources on day-to-day operations, you aren’t spending it on transformation for competitive advantage and growth.” Rimini Street helps Habel advance his goals for a high-functioning team enabled by cost-reduction, streamlining, and operational efficiency. “Our experience with Rimini Street has just been out of the ‘ballpark.’ Everyone, from payroll and HR to our analysts, is extremely happy,” Habel said.
He stressed the incredible responsiveness and sense of teamwork that Rimini Street delivers. “One of our analysts was working late on an important update; at around 1 a.m., he noticed that the Rimini Street analyst started updating his first record with a response as soon as he started to create the second record. That is outstanding service!”
Habel summarized, “Rimini Street support leaves Oracle support in the dust.”
- Heightened team satisfaction: Made it possible to identify high-payback projects that heightened engagement and boosted morale by offloading daily tasks — resulting in zero attrition in the ERP team over a three-year period
- Extended existing investments in applications: Achieved elevated levels of support and extended coverage for customized ERP modules and integrations
- Liberated resources for agility and innovation: Generated initial 50% support cost reduction and released work hours from ERP maintenance to reinvest in capital projects