Two significant local companies went live on new SAP systems last week.
Broadcasting and telecommunications company Kordia and directories company Yellow Pages Group both held “go-live” parties for their new software.
Karl Wright, CIO of the Yellow Pages Group, says after the split from Telecom last May, SAP was selected to provide a full ERP installation plus a new billing system. The modules implemented were HR, payroll, finance, ID management and a new billing system.
The billing system is scheduled to come onstream around August with a first billing run around October. All the other modules went live on May 1.
Wright says SAP primed the contract because of the “ambition” of Yellow Pages’ plans. Soltius and HP also did a significant amount of work around the project, especially with business owners, he says.
Wright says as the project was so broad, Yellow Pages wanted SAP directly involved. Many SAP partners tend to specialise, he says, and the billing component meant there were some complex discussions to be had.
Despite that there were less than 200 customisations across the entire project, he says. Most of these were in the billing system. Because Yellow Pages has a large number of small customers and spread payments, its billing is more akin to that of a utility than any other business, he says.
Wright would not disclose the cost of the project, but said it had put Yellow Pages into a position where the back office is sorted and now the company is ready to innovate in the market.
Wright says he has worked with SAP before. the project has changed a number of people’s ideas about what working with SAP is like. He says they are one of the few vendors who understand what partnership means.
“They were honest enough to have awkward conversations,” he says.
Wright says the biggest challenge in the project was getting accurate blueprints and getting the business to accept off-the-shelf solutions.
Kordia similarly implemented a company-wide SAP system, with the aim of uniting the company’s disparate systems in New Zealand and Australia.
SAP won the deal ahead of arch-rival Oracle last October. They were the only two vendors Kordia considered, Kordia’s programme manager for the project, Glenn Bittle, told Computerworld last year.
Kordia opted for SAP after a three-month trial, where 30 staff across the business assessed the two systems.
Financial statements lodged with the Companies Office show SAP boosted its local sales by 15% in the year to December 2006, achieving revenues of $45.8 million, up from 39.8 million in 2005. No return is yet available for 2007.
SAP’s local managing director Ian Black uses the term “business networks” to describe the needs of many local customers who require improved lines of sight on their supply and delivery chains.
He says there are lots of local customers looking at manufacturing in China or sourcing in India.
“They are doing business in a networked way, but not necessarily using technology to enable it,” he says.
A lot are still using standalone spreadsheets and it is not yet part of the culture to use IT in a collaborative fashion. He says IT can deliver new routes to market and change the relationship with the customer from being transactional to “intimate”.
Black says one local exporting company, plastics manufacturer Click Clack, is doing design work in China to understand what that market is looking for in the company’s products, which are manufactured here. In addition to local customers there is still quite a lot of multinational growth in New Zealand, he says. Other recent local wins for SAP include Ballance Agri-Nutrients, to replace a heavily customised legacy system.