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Arcadis operates as a global company on Oracle Fusion foundation

Posted on April 15, 2024

For consulting and engineering organization Arcadis, a company that operates globally in the fields of buildings, infrastructure, environment and water, ERP, CRM and HCM are extremely important and closely intertwined. An application platform such as Oracle Fusion is indispensable.

We spoke with Bram Mommers of Arcadis during Oracle Cloud World Tour in London. He is the company’s Global Technology Officer, similar to the role of CIO/CTO, and tells us all about the IT transition the company has gone through in the past decade. That’s been a pretty big transition, we note during our conversation with him. For this article, we’ll zoom in on Oracle’s role in the whole process. However, it is worth keeping in mind that a similar change was underway for all parts of the IT infrastructure.

Arcadis wanted to become a global company

About a decade ago, Arcadis decided to change tack. The company switched to Oracle globally in 2014 for (among other things) ERP and HCM. This was part of a larger strategy. Arcadis wanted to transform from an international company to a global company. They already were, of course, from the perspective of the people who worked there and the countries in which it was and still is active. Arcadis has grown considerably in 136 years and is active in more than 30 countries, with 36,000 employees working and collaborating on 40,000 projects worldwide. Think for example of the water protection measures in New Orleans after storm Katrina or the design and project management of train stations such as Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena and Driebergen-Zeist in the Netherlands. Arcadis can rightly call itself a global company on this basis.

However, the same could not be said of its IT infrastructure in 2015. There was still much to be gained there in terms of a global approach. For example, each country had its own ERP system. That had to change, Mommers points out. The reasons are fairly obvious. A central, easily scalable solution provides several advantages: it is more efficient (to generate the necessary insights), it enables shared service centers, the “lines” between different countries are shorter and the ease of use also improves. In addition, Arcadis sometimes takes over another company. Having one central solution makes it easier to integrate those into the existing environment too.

Via EBS to Oracle Fusion

Arcadis did not immediately decide in 2015 to switch to Oracle’s Fusion Cloud offering of applications, even though it was available at the time. It did so via an intermediate step in the form of Oracle EBS (E-Business Suite). That is traditionally an on-prem solution, which you can also run in the (Oracle) cloud if desired. In 2018, Arcadis then started moving everything over to Fusion Cloud. In early 2024, the company shut down the last EBS environment. So six years after the start, the transition to Oracle Fusion Cloud is now complete. Everything now runs on it: HCM, project management, financial management, procurement but also sales.

The steps above might make it sound as a bit of a boring process, but that certainly wasn’t the case, Mommers points out: “If you change not only your systems but also the business processes that go with them, you end up with the highest risk for the organization. That’s exactly what Arcadis did.” In other words, people within the organization had to start working on projects differently with the new environment. Then you introduce two new things into the organization at the same time. “It has not always been easy, change management turned out to be a big challenge,” Mommers states.

Change management is perhaps even more important for an organization like Arcadis than for many others. “Our assets are the people and the domain knowledge they have,” Mommers points out. That means Arcadis does not ship products to clients, but people and knowledge. People must have access to the systems and be able to work well with them at all times. In addition, the HR component also plays a big role here. After all, this is all about people.

Arcadis cannot operate without Oracle Fusion

Mommers articulates Arcadis’ goal with these specific IT components as follows: “We want to bring global expertise where it is needed.” This is only possible with a good combination of HCM and ERP (especially project management). With the move to Oracle Fusion Cloud Apps, this is now possible. Indeed, “without Oracle Fusion, we can’t do our job,” he points out. If you think of Arcadis as a factory, with a workshop and an office, Oracle is the office. If that’s out, although the people in the field (in this analogy, the workshop) can still go on, over time, phone calls and questions are going to come about how to move forward.

Mind you, the Oracle Fusion applications do not use magic to make everything work well at Arcadis. If you want to optimally link project planning (ERP) and HCM, an organization will really have to do that itself and standardize underlying processes globally. That also means thinking carefully about exactly how you want this to work. Oracle provides the applications, but it cannot deploy them optimally for you.

It keeps evolving

The rollout of Oracle Fusion Cloud Apps within Arcadis may be complete, but this does not mean that the transition is complete. For example, there is a desire within Arcadis to also link the financial component to project planning within the ERP module.

In addition, the applications receive quarterly updates, including the addition of new functionality. For example, during Cloud World Tour London, Oracle announced a major update with more than 50 GenAI features for the entire Fusion Cloud Apps portfolio. These are updates that Arcadis is very happy about, Mommers points out. This in itself makes sense, as it will allow Arcadis to get even more out of the investment and bring the expertise to the right place in the world even faster and better via the right people.

For now, Mommers says he has “a very modern IT organization,” of which Oracle Fusion is a crucial part. This fits the global company Arcadis wants to be and, of course, wants to remain.


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