Plant & Food Research selects SAP for hybrid vigour

Rapid deployment on time and under budget delivers value for New Zealand’s newest CRI

Auckland, New ZealandThe country’s newest Crown Research Institute, the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited (Plant & Food Research) is now live with SAP Business Suite. Plant & Food Research needed a proven solution which could be deployed at speed, delivered the lowest overall total cost of ownership over time and offered scope for customisation. Consequently, SAP was selected as the best platform for the organisation to manage its complex, freshly merged business.

Plant & Food Research was launched in December 2008, combining New Zealand’s leading horticulture, arable and seafood research into a single focussed organisation.

One of the first problems it needed to address was the disparate inherited business IT platforms of the merged Crop & Food Research and HortResearch. The new organisation’s systems had to work for commercial and government clients, to cope with projects as short as a couple of months or as long as several years, as well as supporting staff around the world.

“The IT systems of the two organisations didn’t have much in common, they even had different email applications,” says John McMaster, CIO, Plant & Food Research. “Clearly it was essential for the new organisation that we migrate to a unified system to meet our needs today and in the future. The fact that it has been delivered on time and within budget reinforces the decision we took.”

“It was a considerable challenge, because the transition had to be managed while operations continue for the time being on two discrete platforms. On the positive side, it means we had the opportunity to identify improvements we’d like to make.”

Less than a month after its launch, Plant & Food Research’s management carefully reviewed the circumstances and requirements of the new company, including plans and projections. They also reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the current systems and from these developed criteria for the best solution for the new organisation.

“As we considered the complexity of our business, our tight timeframes, and the total cost over a number of years, a tier one solution began to look like the smarter option,” says John.

“We settled on a proven option from a vendor which could meet our needs for rapid deployment, as well as making better economic sense over the lifetime of the system.

“The good support we received from local SAP partners RealTech also influenced us.”

The new company was formed to generate knowledge and intellectual property that promotes the sustainable and efficient use of primary plant and seafood-based resources to create value for New Zealand. It aims to align its contributions to research-based innovation in the primary and food sectors with industry needs and develop expanded business and science collaborations in offshore markets. With over 900 staff based around New Zealand as well as in Europe, the USA and Australia, Plant & Food Research resembles a professional services firm which provides science research, with annual revenues expected to be in the region of $120 million.

Plant & Food Research is licensed for SAP Business Suite including core Financials and Business Planning and Simulation along with SAP NetWeaver BI. The organisation makes detailed use of project accounting and is planning to expand the use of this significantly.

The flexibility of SAP’s portal model means the user interface can be customised to meet Plant & Food Research’s preferences for time and cost capture.

“We’ll be doing some customisation to make the time and cost capture tools easier for occasional users,” says John. “However, we’re confident that rapid deployment of SAP is going to support our business in this new stage of development.”

“Securing a proven common platform is central to the success of a merger like Plant & Food Research, particularly in times of economic uncertainty when protecting productivity is critical and rapid deployment is preferred,” says Graeme Riley, SAP New Zealand managing director. “The organisation elected to replace its business management systems and create a platform that supports continued growth by streamlining systems and using analytic tools to get timely, accurate and actionable information, so it can help New Zealand retain its competitive edge by continuing to innovate and add value to primary industries.”

About SAP Business Suite

SAP Business Suite software enables enterprises to execute and optimise their business and IT strategies. SAP Business Suite gives organizations the unique ability to perform their essential industry-specific and business support processes with modular software that is designed to work with other SAP and non-SAP software. Organisations and departments in all industries can deploy SAP Business Suite software in a step-wise manner to address specific business challenges on their own timelines and without costly upgrades. SAP Business Suite provides better insight and visibility across organisations, improves operational efficiency and effectiveness, and increases the flexibility to address business change.

About Plant & Food Research

New Zealand’s newest Crown Research Institute opened for business on December 1 2008, combining the nation’s leading horticulture, arable and seafood research in a single, focused organisation.

The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited (which will trade as Plant & Food Research) has been formed through the merger of existing CRIs HortResearch and Crop & Food Research. The merged organisation has over 900 staff based at sites throughout New Zealand as well as science and business development staff working in the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia. Annual revenues for the new company are expected to be in the region of $120 million.

Its research and commercial partnerships cover a broad spectrum of disciplines and industry sectors, from molecular biology to nutrigenomics, fresh fruit to high value seafood products. At the heart of Plant and Food Research is a goal to underpin the growth of plant and marine-based industry in New Zealand and offshore through the successful application and commercialisation of research-based innovation. Visit www.plantandfood.com.