Blazing A New Road: Trucking And Logistics Giant YRC Consolidates In The Cloud

Article written by Margaret Harrist
In a major step toward operating as one enterprise rather than a collection of brands, trucking and logistics holding company YRC Worldwide is consolidating its disjointed and outdated finance and HR applications, many of them inherited through acquisitions.
YRC Worldwide’s goal is to modernize and streamline its back-office systems across all five of its brands: YRC Freight, Holland, New Penn, Reddaway, and HNRY Logistics—which last year moved more than 51,000 tons of shipments per day through an extensive hub-and-spoke network across the 50 US states, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

The company’s new move to Oracle Cloud ERP and Oracle Cloud HCM applications will give company leaders better insights into those complex operations and more flexibility to meet the demands of a fast-changing market, which includes conventional trucking companies as well as providers of digital load-matching services.
That market has never changed faster than it did in March 2020. YRC serves a range of industries, delivering tens of thousands of shipments daily to keep retail stores stocked, deliver critical medical supplies to healthcare facilities, ship industrial items to keep factories running, and serve as a transport provider for the Department of Defense’s logistics hubs across the country—all areas dramatically affected by COVID-19 and the shutdown.
“The pandemic sent shockwaves through the supply chain, which are still reverberating today,” says YRC Worldwide CIO Jason Ringgenberg. “Never has data been more necessary to ensure our trucks and drivers are able to deliver what America needs safely and efficiently. While our data is securely in the Oracle Cloud, our trucks and drivers are safely operating on the highways serving our customers”.
From Many to One
Before YRC’s application consolidation started four years ago. its companies were running multiple versions of PeopleSoft on-premises HR/finance applications, some installed ahead of Y2K, as well as a range of HR point solutions—iCIMS for recruiting, Halogen for learning and performance management, Infinium for payroll, an internally developed application for pension calculations, and Infor’s Lawson for finance, HR, and payroll.

For the life of me, I can’t think of a rationale why you would go with separate vendors for HCM and ERP.

YRC Worldwide CIO Jason Ringgenberg

Many of these applications were heavily customized to support unique business processes in place when the systems were implemented, making upgrades complex and re-implementations more likely.
“IT spent an enormous amount of time developing interfaces to get data out of one system and into another,” says Ringgenberg. “And the reality of being on on-premises software—especially ERP and HCM—is you upgrade it only about every five years, so we were constantly behind.”

YRC Worldwide decided to move all of those applications onto unified, cloud-based ERP and HCM suites “to streamline operations and to avoid spending so much time developing interfaces,” Ringgenberg says.
“We made the decision to pick one provider for both, and we saw that if we went with Oracle Cloud ERP and HCM solutions, the interfaces between those systems would be done for us,” he says.
Company leaders viewed Oracle as the world’s leader in database encryption, which eased their apprehension about moving sensitive finance and HR data into the cloud, Ringgenberg says. And because Oracle owns the entire tech stack—from applications to underlying database to servers and storage—any security vulnerabilities are patched quickly.
“For the life of me, I can’t think of a rationale why you would go with separate vendors for HCM and ERP,” Ringgenberg says. “It cuts back on the work and you don’t have to try to bend one company’s product to match it to the other. That alignment is important.”
Ringgenberg says he also likes the fact that the two cloud application suites are updated simultaneously, they’re fully integrated, and they have a shared security model.
The Challenges
YRC Worldwide’s cloud migration started in 2016, when YRC Freight and New Penn implemented Oracle Cloud ERP. The following year, they started moving their HR systems to Oracle Cloud HCM. HNRY Logistics, launched in late 2018, started in the cloud. Reddaway moved to Oracle Cloud ERP in early 2019 and began moving to Oracle Cloud HCM last fall—its first paychecks of 2020 were processed on the new system. Next up was Holland, where the cloud migration began with payroll and is progressing with other HR processes, before the move to Oracle Cloud ERP begins.
“After Holland converts, all of the old software will be shut off—and I won’t miss any of that stuff one bit,” Ringgenberg says.
Every completed phase of implementation made the next one easier, he says, though a few challenges stood out.
One was aligning the segregation of duties—ensuring that certain people/roles have access to certain kinds of data consistently across the company. Another challenge was training users on how to use the new applications.
For those employees who produce or receive certain reports, a challenge was to step back and analyze if each cloud application’s prepackaged reports provide the necessary information without customization, and which reports could be eliminated.
Beyond the initial implementation, YRC and its companies needed to prepare employees to receive application updates at a quarterly clip and to map out how IT would test each one.
“IT was accustomed to going a long time between upgrades and dealing with an extensive upgrade process involving development, configuration, integrations, and end-to-end testing,” Ringgenberg says. “With Oracle’s quarterly updates, we need to understand what Oracle has tested and what we still need to test specific to our environment, and how much of our testing can be automated.”
It’s important to give someone the job of reading the release notes, working with the cloud vendor to understand the new features, and helping users adopt them, he says. For ERP systems specifically, he recommends involving the audit team. “You’re going to be touching things that may cause issues if not done correctly up front,” he says.
New World
As for CIO Ringgenberg, his world no longer involves big capital outlays, depreciation calculations, and data center maintenance. He also needs fewer programmers—and more people who can work with business users as updates roll out steadily.
“I don’t think that there is any doubt that companies should go to the cloud these days,” he says. “Five years from now, companies with finance systems on premises versus in the cloud will have changed dramatically—and the ones that don’t move will really be at a strategic disadvantage because all the money and innovations are going to the cloud.”
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