Agribusiness Elders has started on a four-year journey that will see it transform from a company laden with legacy applications in-house to one with an SAP core hosted on an HP private cloud.
The journey for "project connect" started last year in June when the business case was approved by the board for an SAP roll-out, which was to happen in six stages.
This led Elders to sign agreements in March not only with SAP for software and Accenture for software integration, but also with HP. Elders had chosen to run its new software in a private cloud in HP's datacentre, which will see the business reduce its IT team significantly.
"The build and run decisions were both intimately linked," Elders CIO Shaun Hughes said.
The company planned to decommission its legacy iSeries servers, either by transporting or transforming the legacy apps (such as the point of sale for Elders branches) that were kept on the kit.
HP would run the legacy infrastructure in-house until the apps had either been addressed by the SAP roll-out or, in the case that the hardware needed to be refreshed, moved onto HP BladeSystem servers in the vendor's datacentre.
Progress on the project is on track, currently conducting integration and testing. The first stage of the project is set to go live in March next year and will see the company implement SAP financials, HR and indirect procurement.
The second and third stages will involve implementing branch systems such as Customer Relationship Management and point of sale systems. Then the company will implement the systems for its meat and livestock trading division, before moving onto those for its New Zealand and overseas offices. The last stage will be tackling the advanced capabilities of the implementation and treasury.
The company decided to have HP run its legacy because it wanted to de-risk and reduce the cost of the SAP transition and thought that HP's private cloud model would provide Elders with scalability. The agreement also gave Elders access to automation tools and staff with the legacy application skills.
As to why HP specifically, Hughes said that the company's Adelaide presence had played the biggest role. The Elders IT team used to be 122 strong. Before the transformation started that number was cut to 75, and HP agreed to take on 56 of them. After HP takes those employees, the Elders team is expected to number around the 15 mark.
"It enabled us to redeploy a lot of staff affected by the outsourcing," Hughes said.
Hughes said that the transformation would, ultimately, make it easier for farmers to do business with the company, automating document exchange and allowing easier information to financial information.
Elders provides agribusiness services, such a selling merchandise, working in real estate and providing agronomy advice.
Hughes would not say how much the contract was worth. It runs for seven years.