SAP is gaining a foothold in the local authority world, with two of New Zealand's larger councils likely to opt for its R/3 software, and Auckland's Regional Council going live with the software.
Both Wellington Regional Council and Christchurch City Council are doing scoping exercises with SAP and are in contract negotiations with the vendor.
Christchurch City Council has selected an additional vendor to SAP, Australian local government software vendor Praxa with its GEMS (government enterprise management system) software. Deloitte Consulting/ICS will implement the software. City council MIS manager John Edmonds says the council chose the combination to get the best of both worlds — a best of breed product and a local government package. "We felt that the purely commercial financials, particularly SAP, just had the edge over the financial offerings within local government packages and they had greater capability for process improvement and process redesign … but we had to have offerings to cover local government specific applications."
Edmonds says SAP and Praxa are talking about forming a strategic alliance in the market, with a combined package as a local government offering.
Assuming the contract is signed, the council hopes to have the project completed in between six and nine months using the ASAP (Accelerated SAP) implementation method. The consents system will be the first to be replaced because it's not year 2000-compliant, and this will happen by about July — along with some core financials. The council is running Digital VAX for its non-financial applications, IBM AS/400 for its financials and NT servers run the office systems. It will now move to a single NT business environment. Edmonds is confident about the stability of NT. "We believe it's sufficiently proven as an environment. Fifty percent of SAP's sales now are on NT."
The council looked at about eight solutions at the RFP (request for proposal) stage.
Meanwhile, the Auckland City Council recently went live with R/3's financials, human resources, payroll, projects and plant maintenance modules.
IS director Tony Darby says the year 2000 issue triggered its decision to implement SAP's R/3 enterprise software, but another key driver was the need to integrate financial and management systems. He believes R/3 is a good solution for local authorities, particularly the reporting and analysis capabilities, which give councils more transparency and enable them to do more targeted budgeting in relation to the outcomes they want to achieve. The council had been using a mixture of in-house and packaged software for financials, payroll, human resources and budgeting systems. Darby says the systems weren't
well integrated and many weren't year 2000-compliant.
He says there were only minor teething problems in the implementation and overall everything went according to plan. Benefits are being delivered. "We didn't try to reengineer the whole business. The key is to just choose two or three or four processes that you want to improve and stay focused." The implementation by Deloitte Consulting/ICS took just six months, using the ASAP implementation method.
"It [ASAP] was great — it provides you with a lot of templates and process structures and it's really quite easy to redesign your processes with them."
The project went live in two phases on December 1 and February 1. Darby says Auckland Regional Council developed a consent module, and with Deloitte/ICS, it has developed an SAP interface to automated billing through to its consent system. "That's for capturing immediate costs through to particular jobs that they're doing."