Auckland Transport gets Supercity moving with SAP

AUCKLANDAuckland Transport has successfully gone live with a new SAP system, fully supporting the operations of the agency since the first day of its existence on 1 November.

Auckland Transport has now successfully run a number of full business processes including payroll runs, finance and procurement processes – core functions underpinning operations.

The project had a tight, immoveable timeframe, matched by an equally tight budget. This meant the Auckland Transition Agency elected to take a copy of an existing SAP environment and use that as a baseline for the new system. In the SAP primed project, SAP Global Delivery in India had a fixed scope to create the new system which, after an upgrade and database conversion, was then handed over to SAP New Zealand and the project team in Auckland to configure to meet the needs of the new organisation.

Auckland Transport assumed the transport-related functions previously provided by Auckland Regional Council, Auckland Regional Transport Authority and six city and district councils. This includes public transport, local roads, road furniture, footpaths, parking operations and the infrastructure associated with each of these activities. To support these functions the SAP ERP solution at Auckland Transport comprises Financials, HR/Payroll, Procurement, Project Systems and Business Intelligence for reporting.

Roger Jones, GM IT & Business Systems, says that a number of factors influenced the Auckland Transition Agency’s decision to copy an existing environment.

“Copying the environment was low cost, low risk and much quicker than building a system from scratch. Another crucial consideration was that we had to be able to implement a new system without putting existing services at risk.

“The only alterations we made were to bring processes more in-line with best practice, where the cost of change was negligible,” says Roger. “For example we simplified the time and leave processes.”

There were also some components, such as a parking system interface, which had to be altered for the new system. And the team took the opportunity to upgrade some of the foundation technologies for the new organisation to provide building blocks for the future such as the Employee Portal.

Unique Challenges

Creating a system for an organisation that didn’t yet exist posed unusual challenges for the project team. The steering committee made high level decisions and gave direction for the project, but often the project team had to make decisions on behalf of people who hadn’t yet been hired. It also meant that some aspects of the ERP system were particularly important such as HR/Payroll and Procurement.

“It is also unusual to have an immutable date for a go-live,’ says Glenn Bittle, Project Director. “During the project, people would ask about contingency dates. That wasn’t an option. There was legislation that required Auckland Transport be operational on 1 November. We had to meet that date. That was very challenging when the new organisation’s management team and staff weren’t in place!”

Success measures

Roger says the project has been very successful. “We met the challenging timeline within our tight budget. From day one employees have been able to enter timesheets, apply for leave and be paid. We’ve been able to raise POs for suppliers and we’ve been able to pay them.

“Most importantly, though, the user feedback from staff and managers has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re running a variety of both online and classroom-style training to get users up to speed and people are saying that the system is really good and easy to use,” says Roger.

Future planning
In some instances decisions have been deliberately left until Auckland Transport came into being, particularly around reporting and analysis. Until managers and their new teams have been in their roles for a while their exact needs will not be clear.

“Best practice is not to make changes in the first couple of months because the shift to a new structure has already had such a big impact. We plan to let people use the system for a while, we’ll make any necessary minor tweaks in that time, but we won’t change anything major yet. In early 2011 we’ll start improving the initial reports so they align to the business needs as they emerge, especially in relation to key performance reporting,” says Stephen Smith, Finance Manager.

Graeme Riley, managing director, SAP New Zealand, says the success of the project is testimony to the combination of hard work from and excellent co-operation between the local project team in Auckland and the Global Delivery team in India.

“Our team here in New Zealand worked closely with the Auckland Transition Agency during the process. Global Delivery took the copy of the existing system and we then deployed local resources to configure the functionality to meet the blueprinted designs of the core system. It was then tested and handed to Auckland Transport to complete the implementation. By taking the approach they did Auckland Transport was able to meet its legal obligations as a new Council-controlled organisation from day one with a future-proofed ERP system that meets industry best practice.”

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For more information, press only:

Peter Sertori, SAP Australia and New Zealand, +61 2 9935 4845, peter.sertori@sap.com

Rachael Joel, Botica Butler Raudon Partners, 09 303 3862 or 021 403 504, rachaelj@botica.co.nz