Mint cashing in on new economy of ERP system

Mint cashing in on new economy of ERP system

Mint CIO Jackie Fletcher says the ERP team managers met daily to keep the project on track.

By Shruti Dat'
GCN Staff

A year after completing the implementation of the Consolidated Information System, the Mint is reaping the rewards of an enterprise resource planning system that integrates financial, manufacturing and marketing processes.

The enterprisewide software package has increased the Mint's business savvy, Mint director Philip N. Diehl said.

'We have gone through a complete re-engineering,'' Diehl said. 'We began to find a lot of problems with our legacy systems, because the information technology systems were scattered and could not talk to each other.''

Data had to be placed in multiple systems, which led to errors and delays. 'It was manpower- and time-intensive,'' Diehl said.

The Mint struggled with the legacy systems, which dated to the early 1980s, until it faced the year 2000 problem. The agency decided to invest $40 million over 10 years to implement the Manufacturing Financial Distribution ERP system from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif., rather than spend $12 million to $15 million on repairs.

In late 1997, Diehl and Jackie Fletcher, technical project manager of the Consolidated Information System (COINS) who has since become the Mint's first chief information officer, began implementing the ERP system. At the time, they had only 12 months to meet the Office of Management and Budget's original year 2000 readiness deadline, Oct. 31.

'Most Fortune 100 companies have taken 24 to 36 months, so for us to do it in 12 months was a tall order,'' Diehl said. 'First thing we did was make sure we had the highest level of management support. I am the head of the agency, and I had a very strong commitment to it.''

No distractions

The ERP implementation team, which consisted of PeopleSoft and Mint IT officials, was stationed away from Mint headquarters to help focus attention, Fletcher said. Upper-level managers on the team met at 8 a.m. daily to make sure the project was on track, she said.

The yearlong ERP project integrated two main systems: the Mail Order and Cataloging System (MACS), and the Marketing and Customer Service Programs system.

The ERP system also provided interfaces between MACS and other Mint systems. Mellon Bank, which handles the Mint's coin order processing system, now automatically feeds orders into MACS via an internal interface.

Teloquent, a standalone automated call distribution system from Teloquent Communications Corp. of Billerica, Mass., feeds information from customer service calls into MACS. PostalSoft, an address standardization tool from Firstlogic Inc. of La Crosse, Wis., also exchanges data with MACS.

MACS can also tap into information in the agency's credit card authorization system. The agency's automatic labeling system will be integrated with MACS in about a month.

The applications and an Oracle7 Release 7.3.3 database run on an eight-processor Sun Microsystems Enterprise 6000 server under SunSoft Solaris 2.51 connected through the Treasury Communications System, which provides the Mint's wide-area frame relay network.

Since implementation was completed, the agency has exchanged information with greater ease. The Mint's Web site also flourished because of the broader data interchange, Diehl said. The site was launched in December 1997 but did not blossom until after the implementation of COINS. The Web site does $1.2 million to $1.5 million worth of business a week.

The Mint's online sales reached $2 million on Oct. 18. The ERP system helped foster the Mint's Internet success, Diehl said.

'It used to be difficult to make informed decisions with timely, reliable information.'' he said. 'Today information is much more reliable and timely, and helps us develop a more sophisticated business strategy.''

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