CHH upgrade from SAP 4.5b to 4.7

Carter Holt Harvey is on the brink of an upgrade from version 4.5b to version 4.7 of SAP's flagship R/3 software suite to improve functionality and avoid rising maintenance costs.

Carter Holt Harvey is on the brink of an upgrade from version 4.5b to version 4.7 of SAP’s flagship R/3 software suite to improve functionality and avoid rising maintenance costs. But just how the wood products company will go about the upgrade and when are yet to be decided.

The company’s chief of IT, Pat O’Connell, says CHH has to upgrade its existing, extensive SAP system “at some point”, to retain currency and compatibility with add-on SAP programmes such as CRM, APO (advanced planning and optimisation) and BW (business warehouse).

“Also, 4.5b goes end-of-maintenance at the end of the year and on to special maintenance for 2004, which means an extra 2% cost. That’s a lot of money for our business.”

Maintenance support ceases altogether after 2004.

O’Connell says a decision is yet to be made on whether to go for a simple upgrade or a more comprehensive one that encompasses the add-ons. “The intention is to look at doing it next year, but it’s yet to be approved.”

An upgrade could take more than a year, depending on the extent and features involved.

One “add-on” CHH has already decided to go with is SAP CRM, which it started to implement at its tissue products division in Australia two weeks ago. The New Zealand tissue operation will follow suit. The Melbourne-based operation was running a specialist CRM system the company “decided wasn’t delivering what was needed”, and after evaluating SAP and “a couple of others” the former was chosen. Functionality, as well as the ability to integrate it with the wider SAP system, were the drivers of the decision, he says. The new system will be fully implemented by the end of the year.

In New Zealand the tissue business also had a less than successful foray with a specialist CRM system, which never reached full deployment. “It’s a restart.”

Other SAP developments at CHH include rolling out R/3 to the forests division, a project due for completion early next year, which will bring the number of SAP users in the company to 2800.

CHH is also set to benefit from a fibre link between its Auckland and central North Island sites.

“We’re piloting Telecom Private Office IP fibre and intend to commence a project to link 15 sites in Auckland and the core of our central North Island facilities around Tokoroa.”

Together, those sites comprise approximately 70% of CHH’s operations and the remainder will also be IP-enabled, but not by fibre.

VoIP is an option but is not planned as yet, O’Connell says.

The new network will allow speeds up to 100Mbit/s at the company’s two South Auckland sites, compared with 1MBit/s to 2Mbit/s under the old network.

“The Auckland sites will be enabled before the end of the year, the central North Island early next year.”

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