Institute sets 3-month limit on SAP

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research has set a time frame of just three months to implement SAP's R/3. Chief financial officer Neil Wanden says ESR has set itself a "very aggressive time frame" to implement R/3: three months from order to go live in early February - just six months after it first started evaluating products. Deloitte ICS will perform the ESR implementation.

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research has set a time frame of just three months to implement SAP’s R/3.

ESR is a crown research institute, which provides science services in areas of public health, forensic science and environmental science to a range of clients including govern-ment and others in New Zealand and overseas.

Chief financial officer Neil Wanden says ESR has set itself a “very aggressive time frame” to implement R/3: three months from order to go live in early February — just six months after it first started evaluating products.

As SAP focuses more on the SME (small to medium-sized enterprise — under $500 million in turn-over) market, the company has been battling a perception that its implementations take a long time. It claims most of its implementations are completed in under nine months.

Deloitte ICS will perform the ESR implementation.

“Deloitte has a proven ability to get the product into what’s essentially a smallish company.”

A Gartner Group spokesman recently said SAP was not suitable for SMEs. Wanden’s res-ponse is that any implementation is about fitting the right product to the need.

“There are some firms whose business is so simple that they should use a standard, off-the-shelf, shrink-wrapped package and there are companies for whom different-sized packages are suitable. ESR is not a simple business for its size, and therefore needed something more robust and flexible and able to accommodate our business design.”

SAP New Zealand general manager Geraldine McBride says SMEs, like ESR, make up 25% of SAP’s clients here, and 40% worldwide. By the year 2000, she expects SMEs to be 50% of its New Zealand clients.

The seven other products ESR evaluated were People-Soft, One World (JD Edwards), Platinum, Oracle, Sun (System Union), SmartStream (Geac) and Solomon.

Wanden says ESR looked for things which would add value to the business, in particular, a product that gave multiple views on the business and which had a strong project accounting emphasis. Another primary driver was the ability to reduce the paperwork and the administrative burden on staff.

“So workflow capability became an essential feature.”

SAP and PeopleSoft were short-listed, and SAP was chosen because it had the best functionality for ESR.

“We had our evaluation team scoring blind, not knowing what the product would cost, and SAP came out tops.”

Another factor in SAP’s favour was the consistently good reference checks in terms of reliable implementation. Wanden won’t reveal costs, but says it was very reasonably priced.

“We began with an impression, which I would imagine a lot of companies traditionally have, that SAP has a huge price tag to put in ... but we were pleasantly surprised that it was not only better than the others, but it was also priced at a level where we could afford to buy it.”

He says ESR looked at costs in terms of the whole project rather than just licence-for-licence costs.

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