Fonterra plans IT relocation

Fonterra's plans to shift staff from its Wellington office to Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North will mean moves for some IS staff.

Fonterra's plans to shift staff from its Wellington office to Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North will mean moves for some IS people, says new CIO Marcel van den Assum, and possibly some redundancies.

Of Fonterra's 320 fulltime IS staff, 130 are based in Wellington and some will have to shift. Any redundancies will come from those who don't want to, says van den Assum, who was appointed overall CIO of Fonterra, the country's largest exporter, last week.

"Our philosophy is, with respect to applications, for the teams to be relocated and follow the business. Where functions are moving to Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North, we'd seek to relocate them."

Fonterra chief executive Craig Norgate has said as many as 200 of the 400 staff presently employed at Fonterra's Wellington base may be made redundant, but van den Assum says none of the Wellington-based IS staff will be made redundant per se, with any who leave doing so because they don't want to move from Wellington.

The merger of the IS systems of Fonterra's forebears was designed to ensure there was no doubling up, says van den Assum. "We don't have any duplication of IS functions."

As for hardware, software and systems, the move from Wellington doesn't present problems, he says.

"IS isn't an issue, it's an enabler. We've already been working on a number of integration projects that centralise the company's processing capability in Hamilton. The hardware, operating systems and servers that support the business and the applications running on them have been centralised in Hamilton.

"There are some local servers and services that remain in Wellington, including the disaster recovery environment, and we need to look at alternative solutions for that, but it's a secondary issue."

In terms of business applications, projects already begun will continue, including the decentralisation of supply chain operations run on SAP.

"There are other projects providing distributed application access, such as our global web-based custom-built demand forecasting application, which runs on our Mercury intranet architecture."

Oracle inventory management and manufacturing applications are also run on a distributed basis.

"The IS application environment enables the business to re-organise and access the systems from other locations."

In addition to the 320 permanent Fonterra IS staff, about 60 more are working on projects "and there will be no impact on them".

Projects that will continue to be run out of Wellington include Programme Jedi, a supply chain re-engineering initiative expected to be completed in 2004, and support for legacy systems such as BOSS.

Van den Assum was CIO of NZMP until last week, when he was made overall CIO of Fonterra.

Ron Peake will continue as CIO of NZ Milk. Van den Assum says the two will continue to have a "peer-to-peer" relationship, both reporting to Fonterra development chief Alexander Toeldte.

"Nothing's changed there," van den Assum says.

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