Fonterra in countdown to EDS deal

The finishing touches are being put on Fonterra's outsourcing deal with EDS, says CIO Marcel van den Assum.

The finishing touches are being put on Fonterra’s outsourcing deal with EDS, says CIO Marcel van den Assum (pictured).

The contract — an announcement on its formalisation is expected soon — will be about leveraging EDS’ capabilities, which will be far more effective than the dairy giant managing its IT infrastructure itself, he says.

“There’s still some work to be done, but outsourcing is the right direction for us. We see no competitive advantage in the IT infrastructure — it’s a utility you plug the applications into,” he says.

The company’s ERP suite, SAP, has its own challenges. “If you join the dots, the main twist in the applications architecture is around SAP, which integrates with the legacy and niche solutions.”

Meanwhile, Fonterra’s shift and consolidation of premises northwards continues, with new premises in downtown Auckland selected and set to be occupied next year. The move will bring with it the closure of Fonterra’s present headquarters at Auckland airport and its Wellington premises.

Van den Assum says the allied movement of IT staff northwards is proceeding as planned. Last December the company said it wanted to shift IS staff from Wellington to Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North. Of Fonterra’s 320 fulltime IS staff, 130 were based in Wellington. Some of those had to shift.

“We’ve had a more than 50% hit rate of people wanting to move north and are working with the others on transferring their skills.”

Fonterra’s enterprise solutions group, which was established earlier this year, is continuing its work on business intelligence, data warehousing and using webMethods to integrate legacy and niche products into the organisation’s SAP systems. They too will be moving to the new Auckland building.

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