Australia leads in OUP's global SAP rollout

Templates developed in Oxford University Press' Australian operation have served as a key resource for a decade-long global rollout of SAP.Oxford University Press (OUP) first implemented SAP for financial control in its UK operation in 1996, and has since expanded it to include data warehousing, logistics and demand planning.

Templates developed in Oxford University Press' Australian operation have served as a key resource for a decade-long global rollout of SAP.

Oxford University Press (OUP) first implemented SAP for financial control in its UK operation in 1996, and has since expanded it to include data warehousing, logistics and demand planning.

The academic publisher operates in 11 regions and while each reports to the UK, there is a considerable degree of independence.

Australia was selected as the first regional implementation following the UK SAP rollout as it was a well-run branch typical of the group structure. Each regional operation typically has a turnover of around AU$18 million, and publishes its own titles as well as importing from the main operation.

"Having done that project, we stripped out all the bits unique to the Australian business and had a template that covered 80 percent of a typical branch's needs," said Ian Wild, programme director for OUP's business systems group, during a technology seminar at this week's London Book Fair. "The template was based around the Australian implementation."

That template has since been used for other regional rollouts, most recently in Pakistan, and OUP now has a well-defined model for implementing the SAP package, which replaced a complex mix of in-house systems. "The benefit of the standard implementation approach was consistent functionality and built-in best practices."

In each location, a workshop to work out what specific regional features such as tax is an essential requirement, Wild said. For Australia and some subsequent rollouts, third parties were contracted, but OUP now handles the task itself. "We've switched as we've grown the skills internally."

The speed of implementation has also improved. While the Australian rollout took 7 months and 1200 total man days, the rollout in Pakistan took 5.5 months and 850 days. While each regional operation has the freedom to choose an alternative if they wish, most have selected SAP in practice, Wild said. The Canadian operation originally selected another package, but its supplier subsequently went broke and it has now switched to SAP as well.

Further upgrades are expected over the next two years. "We've now started looking at replacing our core right and royalties systems," Wild said. "Like many publishers, we've currently got a standalone bespoke system. It's served us well, but it's frozen in time around 1992."

SAP's CRM package has been identified as a likely candidate, and will see a test rollout next year.

OUP is also examining the use of SAP's Business One SMB package for smaller divisions, such as China, where a full-scale rollout isn't suitable. "It's very much what you see is what you get, but the advantage is it links into our core systems," he added.

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