Business challenge

When Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton outgrew its customized and antiquated system, it needed an experienced systems integrator to help it migrate to a future-ready and modern cloud-based platform.

Transformation

IBM Services helped Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton migrate business application systems to a comprehensive and connected Oracle ERP Cloud platform, taking advantage of cloud capabilities designed to support future growth.

Results

Provides real-time access to business insights

that replace overnight data processing and dated reports

Takes advantage of modern business practices

for increased workforce productivity

Migrates and converts 150,000 open projects

for 45,000 clients and 2,800 employees

Business challenge story

A growing need for accounting services

During the past five years, the growth of the Canadian economy and the increased complexity of Canada’s tax and regulatory environment have created an unprecedented demand for accounting and other advisory services.

In response to this demand, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton has become Quebec’s most respected accounting firm and Canada’s fifth largest. The firm’s partners expanded their practice portfolios beyond traditional accounting and tax services to include advisory services such as human resources, recovery and reorganization and digital and technology transformation for its business clientele.

To manage its practice, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton gradually built a highly customized on-premises IT infrastructure. “Our partners became very comfortable with this bespoke system,” says Peter Layoun, Vice President of IT. “But as workloads grew and the firm added new services, it became clear that our legacy system couldn’t handle our growth.”

For example, the legacy system worked overnight to process data and refresh reports, making it difficult for partners to access client information in real time. This impacted the ability to bill projects incrementally for better cash flow. Technical limitations meant that a significant amount of manual work was required to onboard new clients and start new projects quickly. Synchronizing and sharing vital information across CRM, ERP and finance applications was cumbersome and relied heavily on manual intervention.

“Our IT department was working harder than ever on patches to keep the legacy system running and, in many cases, the technology could no longer be supported,” says Layoun. “From a support and cost-benefit perspective, it was no longer viable to continue with the legacy platform and its many layers of complexity.”

The business model was becoming very decentralized and dynamic, with hundreds of partners managing practices, expanding into new areas and generating new revenue streams. “Our legacy system could no longer support such a dynamic growth strategy,” says Robert Mainville, Vice President of Finance. “But there were other advanced technologies that could grow along with us — in the cloud.”

Migrating a professional practice management system to the cloud in just over a year was a major achievement, and IBM made sure we met our deadline.

Robert Mainville, Vice President of Finance, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Transformation story

Project Atlas: the big lift

After conducting extensive research, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton’s management understood that next-generation applications running on a cloud-based solution offered many advantages over an outdated on-premises system. “We are in the business of providing professional services to our clients — not in the business of developing and maintaining highly customized software applications,” says Mainville. “Migrating to the cloud would provide us with a scalable business management platform built for continuous modernization.”

On the way to selecting the right cloud solution for its business, the firm thoroughly evaluated the leading software as a service (SaaS) offerings. “We conducted deep-dive demonstrations with very detailed and tactical scenarios,” says Layoun, “and we determined that Oracle ERP Cloud applications would be the best solution for us.”

To manage migration to the Oracle cloud, the firm chose the IBM Services for Oracle ERP Cloud team to serve as the system integrator for “Project Atlas” — a project name chosen to signify the “big lift” scope of the work ahead. “We learned that IBM has worked with Oracle for over 30 years and has the experience, resources and technical knowledge to implement and deliver large-scale projects on schedule,” says Layoun. “We had a 13-month transformation schedule and we were committed to meeting it.”

Another factor contributing to the firm’s choice of IBM was its deep knowledge of the accounting profession. “It was important that our systems integrator was not only an expert in information technology but also understood the operations of an accounting firm,” says Mainville. “Our IBM team knew the inner workings of professional services firms and this made a big difference during development and deployment.”

From the outset of Project Atlas, IBM Services and the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton IT team members leveraged IBM agile methodology to implement this cloud business platform while enabling continuous iterations on the plan. “We co-created many pilots and mocked up solutions based on end-to-end processes,” says Layoun. “This was particularly useful in governance modeling because we do hundreds of thousands of projects per year, and the ability to move data between systems on a timely basis was very challenging.”

Step by step, the IBM Services team integrated all the components of a comprehensive new business platform, including:

  • Oracle CX Cloud with Oracle Sales Cloud Service and Oracle CRM Base Enterprise Cloud Service
  • Oracle EPM Cloud with Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud Service and Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service
  • Oracle ERP Cloud with Oracle Financials Cloud Service, Oracle Expense Cloud Service and Oracle Project Portfolio Management Cloud Service
  • Oracle SCM Cloud with Oracle Procurement Cloud Service, Oracle Purchasing Cloud Service and Oracle Self-Service Procurement Cloud Service

Before the Oracle cloud solution could go live, the firm had to ensure that its users across the entire province of Quebec received in-depth training. “Early on, we identified training as a major success factor,” says Mainville. “The logistics of delivering training to many users across business lines was not easy, but IBM helped us deliver the desired results.”

We were fortunate to complete our migration to the cloud before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Our employees appreciate being able to work from remote locations with full functionality.

Peter Layoun, Vice President of IT, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

On time and on budget

After 13 months of development, testing and deployment, the Project Atlas team delivered the multi-pillar Oracle ERP Cloud project on time and on budget. When the solution went live in August 2019, more than 1,500 employees accessed applications within the first two days.

The migration converted over 150,000 open projects and maintained over 150,000 active contracts while serving 45,000 clients and 2,800 employees. When logging on to the cloud platform, partners appreciated the ability to view management dashboards displaying real-time client and project information.

“Our partners are now in a much better position to make informed business decisions,” says Mainville. “They can also manage the billing cycle much more efficiently by knowing where each project stands, how much billing they have and how much more remains. Faster invoicing means better cash flow.”

Today, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton has a dynamic business platform on the cloud to manage its business operations efficiently and is confident in the ability to scale up and leverage the cognitive capabilities of Oracle solutions to meet future needs. Moving to the cloud allows the firm to respond to unexpected crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the coronavirus hit Canada, many businesses had to shut down and people had to think about working remotely. We were able to pivot to a virtual workforce within a day,” says Layoun. “Modernizing our IT infrastructure allowed us to access our business applications through the cloud and on our mobile devices. I think this was one of the best business decisions we ever took.”

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Logo

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (external link) is a professional services firm dedicated to the success of organizations and their leaders since 1948. The firm is committed to helping clients thrive by obtaining a deep understanding of what is important to them, their business and their industry. A Quebec and Canadian leader in the areas of assurance, tax, advisory services, and business recovery and reorganization, the firm has more than 2,800 professionals, including approximately 200 partners, working in over 100 offices across the province of Quebec and in the Ottawa and Edmundston regions. 

Take the next step

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