AiThority Interview With Lawrence Martin, SVP of Software Engineering at Epicor
Hi, please tell us about your current role and the team / technology you handle at Epicor. How did your role evolve in the last 6-7 months during the pandemic?
As SVP of Software Engineering at Epicor, I’m responsible for a team of over 500 colleagues to operate as an agile organization, with agility and focus on driving customer value through quality solutions to market. Over the past 6-7 months, we have been increasingly focused on helping customers streamline and optimize their operations for flexibility and growth.
Could you tell us about your remote workplace technology stack and how they enable you / your team to stay on top of business goals?
Even before COVID-19, we had positioned ourselves for remote work staff because we’re a global team, with employees located in 15 different states in the U.S. as well as Mexico, Canada, London, Australia, Moscow, and India. We use a combination of best-in-class collaboration tools including Microsoft Teams, Office 365, Azure DevOps, and Azure cloud to ensure our teams can communicate anywhere in the world.
More importantly, we use a lot of technology for our teams directly depending on the work they’re doing (e.g. Microsoft Visual Studio, etc.). We look at the remote workplace as domain specific – what’s the job to be done, and then how do we make sure we provide the tooling for them to be effective at that?
As SVP of Software Engineering, tell us more about your Product Development roadmap for 2021. How much of it is influenced by the immediate demands for Intelligent Automation and AI in Cloud / ERP systems?
We have a cloud first mentality within everything we do. We start by thinking not only about what we are going to build, but how building in the cloud and delivering solutions in the cloud will impact the everyday life of our customers. Everything we do is built on that. So, when we think about it from what we build, utilizing cloud first, we test build and manage through a cloud infrastructure, and then our roadmap highlights how that impacts our customers.
More specifically, we continue to build out our cloud native offerings across each vertical. Specific to ERP, in 2021 we will complete our transformation of the flagship Epicor ERP product to a browser based, cloud native application.
Because of the rapid transformation, we have invested heavily in numerous automation tools to ensure high quality and performance. The tools Protractor and Postman have allowed our team to quickly create thousands of tests to cover both the application and framework with each build of the application. Because of this automation we have great confidence in our ability to release an update to our cloud customers every 2 weeks. The hours of coverage from automation simply cannot be done with manual testing in short periods of time.
For performance we have 24×7 feedback from Google Lighthouse and Microsoft Application Insights that allow us to monitor application performance down to a specific screen or process.
Tell us more about Epicor ERP– What kind of cloud enhancements are you offering to customers?
For 2021, it’s a fully browser-enabled cloud native architecture for our ERP solutions that offers our customers access, flexibility, choice, and enhanced user experience from the implementation to daily workflows – anywhere, at any time.
How do you think security frameworks affect ERP performance in remote workflows? What measures have you taken to provide best-in-class security to customers?
Security is critical for remote workflows, and we put security first, using both internal and external tools and methods. We look at all layers of security across the board – from infrastructure, application, database, network, etc. We also look at security from an inside-out and outside-in view. That means we look at what’s happening coming in, and what’s happening going out, and we also do multiple layers of interdependency management.
We have invested heavily in on-demand security scanning of both our application and cloud environments supported by a dedicated team of IT security professionals. In addition, we also engage with 3rd party testing firms with each major release to ensure we have un-biased validation of the measures we take.
Hear it from the pro- Any advice to all young / aspiring technology analysts / engineers working on Data Science projects. What kind of projects should they focus on to stay relevant in today’s tech industry?
Nowadays, it can be easy to get distracted or hyper-focused on the day-to day. So, I would encourage young leaders to think not about where you are, but where you’re going. It’s the proverbial hockey game – where’s the puck going to be?
Young leaders should get rid of the “best in breed” mentality, because merely keeping pace with “best in breed” gets you to where everyone else is at. Instead, start to look at what’s coming up. What are some new technologies that are not highly touched yet? Those technologies are where the markets will shift and change.
I also believe that COVID-19 has forever changed the way organizations work and structure. Organizations will want more ERP solutions that are remote ready – and more than that, they will also want solutions with a social media touch and feel.
With that in mind, I recommend gaining as much knowledge as you can in automation. Whether that is process, environment, or application automation, there will always be high demand and high value. Automation always has a place regardless of the technology. It will also allow you career flexibility, as these tools and techniques are used across engineering, quality, and DevOps.
Understand what technologies are available based on your stack, but build in flexibility wherever possible because you never know when you’ll need to shift as the product or project evolves. Look first to automate, but be smart about what you’ll actually gain in time saved and coverage. Prioritize what will save the most time on repeatable processes and high-risk areas.
A podcast you are keenly following –
Personally, I enjoy podcasts like The Rabbit Hole and Coder Radio.
I encourage people to listen to podcasts that are domain-specific for their role and where they’d like to go.
Thank you, Lawrence! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Lawrence Martin is a SVP of Software Engineering at Epicor
Growth of our customers’ business is at the heart of what we do. The strength of Epicor business solutions lies in a simplified approach to technology, inspired by our customers and how they work. More than 45 years of experience with our customers’ unique processes and operational requirements is built into every solution.