Mining is an important pillar of the Namibian economy, contributing an estimated 12% to the country’s GDP in 2017.
One of the jewels in the country’s resources crown is Rössing Uranium, one of the longest-operating uranium mines in the world, which produced 4.1% of the world’s primary production of uranium oxide in 2018 in a challenging uranium market.
In November 2018, Rössing’s majority shareholder, Rio Tinto, sold its controlling stake in Rössing to the China National Uranium Corporation Limited (CNUC). With the mine’s SAP ERP-system hosted in the Rio Tinto environment in Australia, it was business-critical to separate Rössing’s IT system from that of Rio Tinto as quickly as possible without affecting operations in any way.
“We had no choice: we had to implement a stand-alone SAP ERP solution in an extremely tight time-frame,” says Marita van der Merwe: Manager: Information Systems & Technologies at Rössing. “At the same time, we saw the opportunity to put in place an IT architecture that supports the business need to be agile and responsive in volatile markets, deliver improved real-time information for business cost control, run our operations more efficiently than ever, and reduce enterprise operating risk.”
Rössing Uranium decided on a hosted and cloud-based environment, implemented on SAP S/4HANA hosted in South Africa by EPI-USE Labs. This is expected to reduce the long-term total cost of ownership through the economies of scale that EPI-USE will be able to achieve as a hosting partner. Project implementation started on 1 November 2018 and went live on 1 April 2019.
In spite of the short timeline to go live, there were certain non-negotiables, said van der Merwe. One of these was ease of use, as the previous system was highly customised, and the new system would require some familiarisation and change management. Other priorities included data and reporting consistency, specifically in quarterly, half year and annual financial reporting requirements; an integrated Payroll and Leave Management solution with improved visibility, automation and control; and business processes that would enable shared services for the group.
“The short timeline created a lot of uncertainty. This was probably our major challenge. Stakeholder buy-in was key for the success of the project to be delivered in a record time, with the project organisation stakeholder structure kept lean to ensure effective and fast communication and decision-making, but also robust enough to handle the complexities and challenges that the project presented” said van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe said the decision to partner with EPI-USE and Deloitte as implementation partners was based on a robust tendering process, in which their previous experience with Rössing and their track record as experienced and successful SAP implementation partners proved critical.
Dirk Nieuwoudt at EPI-USE, said that outstanding collaboration between partners and stakeholders at all stages of the project helped reduce project costs and meet extremely aggressive timelines.
“Where possible, best practices and IP developed by EPI-USE and Deloitte was used to reduce project effort and resource requirements. This was deployed and supported by experienced team members from both partners and Rössing Uranium. By using basic-formulated business processes, master data templates, configuration documentation, developments, test scripts, training material and cut-over plans, we were able to significantly reduce time spent on the project as well as overall project implementation costs.
Cameron Beveridge, Regional Director: Southern Africa at SAP Africa, said: “The ability of SAP S/4HANA to give organisations speed, agility, innovation, and scalability is part of our strategy. Customers like Rössing Uranium are telling us SAP S/4HANA is mission-critical to their businesses because it optimises their digital transformation strategy; improves agility, visibility, and innovation; and reduces costs and time-to-process information. This helps them not only address today’s challenges, but meet tomorrow’s opportunities with flexibility, speed, and insight.”
This article first appeared on Africa Tech