Oracle increases Skope with cool Christchurch JDE deal

Skope Industries moves to off-the-shelf package to cut down on the risk associated with in-house development

Twenty years of working with an in-house manufacturing system is coming to an end at Christchurch-based Skope Industries, because supporting the technology has become too difficult.

“We’ve got a small IT team and we’re moving to an off-the-shelf package to cut down on the risk [associated with] … in-house development,” says IT manager Alistair Lilley. “Dataflex is not widely used now, the resources are not available, and young people don’t particularly want it on their CV.”

Skope Industries makes commercial niche refrigeration units and domestic heating products. It OEMs some product from China and Korea. The 40-year-old privately held company employs 350 people, including an Australian sales force.

Lilley, who has been with the company 30 years, initially as a draftsman, says JDE was chosen as the replacement technology after a selection process that narrowed the candidates down to two. The other was SAP.

“JDE is very strong locally, which gives us a lot of networking capability in Christchurch. Price was a factor, but not hugely so.”

Auckland’s Fusion 5 is implementing the software.

Lilley says the financials module will go live later this month and the remainder should be rolled out in August/September.

“Return on investment didn’t really come into the decision. We had a system that had met our needs for years, so it was hard to see where new software could give a huge ROI,” Lilley says.

Business applications are performing strongly in the New Zealand market, according to Oracle applications sales director Callum Ross.

“JDE has been going particularly well, mainly because of its manufacturing focus,” he says. “Australia and New Zealand have always been a very good market for JDE because it is right-sized.”

Skellerup went live with JDE just before Christmas and another recent sale was to Placemakers, which has bought Oracle’s e-business suite.

“Companies are looking at new systems to improve their business processes,” Ross says. “Historically, they’ve had multiple systems but they now see a need for a common approach. Business-process improvement and business intelligence are key drivers for integrated systems.”

According to IDC, Oracle demonstrated first-half application sales growth last year in Australia of 11%, although this was still well behind SAP, at 24%. That said, according to Ross, worldwide application new business for Oracle grew a whopping 83% last year.

In New Zealand, there is increasing focus on the small and medium enterprise market. Ross says the SME sector is looking to install integrated systems as their businesses grow.

“Our focus is to have implementation right-sized for them,” he says. “Most need quick implementation. We’ve developed industry sector templates that are the right size for New Zealand. We aim to get 85% to 90% as a template.

“Customers want vanilla rather than customisation.”

Another recent Oracle acquisition is Demantre, which provides forecasting software for the supply chain. Ross says he thinks this will be very popular in New Zealand.

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