Telecom goes live with SAP R/3

Telecom has gone live with one of the largest IBM-based SAP R/3 installations in the world.

Telecom has installed SAP R/3 version 2.2F across most of its divisions, replacing 22 standalone financial and business systems.

Project manager Derek Locke says 700 users have been trained since the system went live in April and 1000 users will have been trained by August.

Locke would not divulge the exact cost of the multimillion dollar system but says he expects a pay-back within two-and-a-half years.

"One of the key drivers for the system is accountability. The aim is make managers more accountable for their decisions about resources and give them more autonomy in the way they handle their cost centres.

Locke says benefits are already forthcoming. Managers now receive real-time financial reports instead of waiting a month; data turn around has been reduced from 10 days to two.

The installation is the culmination of a two-year project called Profile, which involved redesigning a broad range of business processes in finance, logistics and project management

Locke says 50 packages were evaluated with the final choice coming down to SAP and Oracle Financials.

"We chose SAP because it was the only product to meet the requirement for a fully integrated system.

"It's very complex and for that reason we tested it thoroughly for four months before implementing. It's complex but also very flexible. Overall, it's one of the smoothest implementations I've seen."

It was thanks to the software's flexibility that Locke and his team were able to incorporate business changes which came out of a governance review into the system, three quarters of the way through the project.

Issues were ownership of business--who does what--and report writing.

"It's fair to say that SAP's report writing is not great," he says.

The system runs on four IBM RS/6000 symmetric multi-processing computers, one as an Oracle database server and the remaining three as application servers, linked by an FDDI LAN.

"IBM was the prime vendor and along with Ernst & Young, helped us through the entire process from package selection through to implementation and application development," Locke says.

"SAP assisted with resources, training and technical backup. The R/3 product has an excellent range of functionality which will ensure Telecom gets the full benefit of our redesigned business processes."

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