CSL Group Inc.
Embraces digital technologies to streamline operations and improve functional efficiency
Aerial view of Canadian Steamship Lines (CSL) bulker ship "Thunder Bay"

As part of a realignment of its organizational structure and strategy, CSL engaged with Oracle Cloud solutions and IBM Services®, to modernize its back-office platform to increase efficiency, save costs and support better decision-making.

Business challenge

On a quest for continuous improvement, CSL Group began searching for ways to boost efficiency and cut costs, without sacrificing service quality.


CSL Group set out to transform its finance, human resources, and procurement functions, engaging a skilled crew from IBM® and cutting-edge Oracle Cloud solutions for help on the journey.

Results Sets
the company on course for major efficiency gains and cost savings
the burden of manual work by harnessing automation
competitive advantage
Business challenge story
Traversing rough seas

CSL Group began searching for ways to unlock efficiencies and reduce costs, without compromising on service quality. An in-depth review of the business revealed several key functions where improvements could be made—including finance, human resources and procurement.

To turn its vision into reality, the company embarked on a large-scale transformation of its business, encompassing an overhaul of the organizational structure and core technology platforms.

IBM Services and Oracle Cloud have provided invaluable support as we implement the first wave of our transformation program. Karin Jonsson Corporate Controller CSL Group
Transformation story
Navigating the right path

After evaluating several leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms and assessing the latest version of its existing solution, CSL Group chose to engage IBM Services to deploy Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud.

Karin Jonsson, Corporate Controller at CSL Group, recalls: “We ruled out the latest version of our legacy system early on, because it was not well-targeted to our industry, and did not feature in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. Experience had shown that the system is not widely used in the Montréal area, and we had historically encountered difficulties in finding local support.

“We evaluated three of the top ERP solutions on the market, looking at factors such as cost to implement, total cost of ownership, and breadth of functionality. We involved users from finance and procurement heavily in the selection process, inviting them to participate in vendor demonstrations, and requesting feedback afterwards.

“In the end, we decided that Oracle Cloud was the best fit for our business. We opted for a cloud deployment, because we see that cloud is where vendors are targeting their efforts and investments. Additionally, a cloud deployment would free up our IT team to focus on our core business as we transform our operations, rather than being tied up with keeping the lights on.

“We selected IBM Services to implement the Oracle solutions because we felt they were happy to work with us in partnership, rather than assume full control. We were keen to learn how to use and manage the Oracle solutions, to gain a stronger sense of ownership—and that’s exactly what IBM delivered.”

Working closely together, IBM and CSL Group deployed the Oracle solutions, including modules for general ledger, accounts payable, cash management, fixed assets, human capital management, and procurement. To complete the deployment, IBM adopted the IBM Oracle Cloud Agile Implementation Method, allowing for increased flexibility and efficiency while reducing risk. IBM delivered end-to-end application development and guided CSL Group through a successful migration to the cloud–prioritizing certain applications for cloud migration to suit business needs. By replacing the outdated legacy system with a state-of-the-art Oracle Cloud offering, IBM helped CSL Group to reduce the costs and resources involved in application management, and unlock value from the enterprise applications to drive better decision-making.

Accompanying the technological switch, IBM helped CSL Group transition away from manual working, and further automate processes in its finance and human resources departments.

Karin Jonsson remarks: “IBM was enormously helpful in scoping the project to fit our tight implementation deadline, maintaining a sharp focus on our core requirements and postponing release of some functionality until later phases. We got along well with the IBM team, and working with them was a pleasure.”

Jean Bernard Caisse, IBM National Leader – Oracle Cloud ERP solutions in Canada, comments: “Small and mid-sized organizations usually don’t expect big players like IBM to play in their field, but in reality we are moving more and more into this space. For example, we introduced CSL Group, a mid-sized organization, to our IBM Client Innovation Center in Montréal, enabling them to draw on advice and support from world-leading experts in Oracle Cloud ERP. Their contribution was instrumental in the overall success of the deployment at CSL Group.”

Alongside the Oracle deployment, CSL Group underwent an organizational shift. By running both changes in parallel, the company was able to align the Oracle applications to suit the new business structure, reducing the need for additional changes further down the line.

IBM was enormously helpful in scoping the project to fit our tight implementation deadline, maintaining a sharp focus on our core requirements and postponing release of some functionality until later phases. Karin Jonsson Corporate Controller CSL Group
Results story
Steaming towards success

Karin Jonsson comments: “Thanks to the Oracle solutions and IBM’s help, we have introduced a streamlined, automated accounts payable process with workflow-driven invoice approvals. Managers find the approval process extremely straightforward – they receive an email notification and can click ‘approve’, or enter the Oracle solution to view the invoice in detail if preferred.”

The finance team is also starting to reap the fruits of the deployment. Certain tasks such as foreign currency conversions are already faster and easier. CSL Group will be able to equip employees with faster access to detailed financial information and automate certain tasks, boosting productivity.

Switching to Oracle Cloud solutions will also enable CSL Group to sunset the two systems currently used to support financial reporting, accelerating report generation and cutting total cost of ownership. The Oracle Cloud solutions have also introduced functionality that is entirely new to CSL Group.

As the first waves of transformation ripple across the business, CSL Group has already set its sights on further improvements. For example, the Oracle implementation lays the foundation for the company to ramp up its analytical capabilities, and pull data from commercial, operational, and financial systems into its business-intelligence platform. To accelerate budgeting, CSL Group is also deploying Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud. Furthermore, the company plans to take advantage of Internet of Things technology on land and on its shipping fleet, paving the way for predictive maintenance, route optimization, and more.

Karin Jonsson concludes: “IBM Services and Oracle Cloud have provided invaluable support as we implement the first wave of our transformation program.”

CSL Group Inc. logo
CSL Group Inc.

The CSL Group (link resides outside of ibm.com) is the largest owner and operator of self-unloading ships in the world. Headquartered in Montréal with divisions operating throughout the Americas, Australia, Europe and Asia, CSL delivers millions of tons of dry bulk cargo annually for customers in the construction, steel, energy and agri-food sectors.

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