Using an application service provider isn’t just for small and medium-sized companies. Dairy giant Fonterra’s corporate headquarters in Auckland uses Great Plains accounting software through application service provider AppServ.
When the $11 billion company was formed nine months ago with the merger of Kiwi Co-op Dairies, the Dairy Board and Dairy Group, it needed a new financial system. It outsourced the selection process to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
Fonterra didn’t have hardware servers in-house, nor people to run the system, so it outsourced the actual accounting transaction processing to Deloitte.
A hosted version of Great Plains Software, a midrange enterprise resource planning (ERP) package acquired by Microsoft in January 2001, was chosen as the accounting system.
Auckland-based Ceritas AppServ, the application service provider arm of Computerland, was chosen to host the software and provide access for 20 users spread over five locations. AppServ hosts the application, which is accessed by Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu staff in Hamilton. The processed transactions are then passed on to Fonterra.
The new corporate HQ system was live within four weeks of first being requested, says Weaver, who heads Deloitte’s Great Plains Team.
Meanwhile, Fonterra was freed of the need to hire, train and keep specialised staff.
“There is the flexibility to add new companies and users when ever required and ongoing costs are known and fixed for three years.”
Weaver says a couple of years ago he did not think that hosted solutions would be back.
“The concept of thin-client technology, greater bandwidth, competition in the comms market and reduced prices has provided an ideal infrastructure for delivering the desktop worldwide based on centralised installations.
“Citrix MetaFrame is a product that can deliver MS Office, email and a common browser interface to a large user base. Then you supply a tier two product such as Microsoft Great Plains for financials and you have a total solution.”