Johannesburg — Delta State, one of the 36 states that make up the federal Republic of Nigeria, is using elements of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution from software giant, SAP, to move towards e-government and to achieve its growth goals.
Implementation of the financials and logistics modules of SAP ERP, running on the SAP NetWeaver business process platform, has enabled the state to centralise payment processes – gaining tighter control of government expenditure as well as improving planning and budgeting capabilities.
The new system has also positioned the state government to move from an accruals-based to a cash-based accounting methodology – further enhancing insight into revenues and expenditure for the Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning.
With the successful implementation of the SAP ERP system, all stakeholders, most especially the people of Delta, have experienced tremendous improvements in the government’s systematic approach to operations and processes. Fundamental improvements are being made in the areas of controls, accurate data presentation and better reporting.
Originally on a manual system, the ministries changed to a selection of discrete accounting and business packages in 2001 as part of Delta’s strategy of computerising all government systems. When those packages’ lack of integration and scalability created duplication of hardware, software, and effort as well as threatening the accuracy and integrity of data, Delta State, assisted by Deloitte, went out to tender for an ERP system and chose the SAP solution from 20 contenders.
“SAP has a long history of providing solutions tailored to the special needs of governments, so we were able to demonstrate in practical terms to Delta State the very considerable improvements our solution would make to their productivity and efficiency,” says Yemi Keri, SAP Africa regional manger for West Africa. “At the same time, we were able to offer guidance on how they could adapt their existing processes to take advantage of the best practices built-in to SAP ERP.
“The immediate past Governor Chief James Ibori and the current governor, Dr Emmanuel E Uduaghan gave the process their personal support. This made the subsequent change management project easier. Users who initially couldn’t understand why the processes they had used for so many years had to change or who felt that governance was under threat because of the changes we suggested, were more disposed to go with our advice knowing that top state officials trusted us and our solution.”
During the early stages of implementation, change management specialist, Phillip Consulting, worked with users and also instituted an ongoing training programme. Today, Delta State super users are directly involved in training new users on the solution. Local Nigerian implementation partner, Femi Egbeniran & Co, also ensured that knowledge was transferred to the state’s information technology (IT) staff throughout the deployment of the solution.
Since the initial implementation of financials and logistics for the finance ministries, the same elements of SAP ERP have been rolled out to other ministries in Asaba, the state capital – and an upgrade was done to the system in 2006. Civil servants can now process their business transactions online from their various offices instead of physically moving files around. Fundamental improvements have been made in the areas of controls, accurate data presentation, and transparency in reporting. Although infrastructure was a concern at the outset – with electricity supply being particularly unreliable – the acquisition of two high capacity generators ensures that hardware runs optimally. In addition, a virtual private network (VPN) link between Delta State and SAP in Germany ensures remote support of the SAP system is always available.
The next phase of the SAP ERP implementation will be deployment of the human resources module, including employee self-service facilities.
Long term, the objective of what is called the E-Delta project is to achieve a paperless office via implementation of a document management system. Delta State is also looking at building a portal link to the SAP ERP solution (which is already Web-enabled) – allowing the state’s business associates and its citizens to interact with it from anywhere in the world.
SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software (*), offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 47 800 customers (excludes customers from the acquisition of BusinessObjects) in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol “SAP”. (For more information, visit www.sap.com.)
(*) SAP defines business software as comprising enterprise resource planning and related applications.