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Govt agency sticks with SAP

The federal Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) has commenced an extensive modernisation of its SAP infrastructure. DEH recently made public some AU$1.
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor

The federal Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) has commenced an extensive modernisation of its SAP infrastructure.

DEH recently made public some AU$1.4 million of contracts with the German software vendor, including five years' worth of mySAP ERP licences at AU$778,305.

"We've had SAP here actually since 1998," the department's Information Services director Matt Wade told ZDNet Australia in a telephone interview late last week. "We're at a point now where the business needs are outgrowing the SAP capability -- so we've decided to invest further in SAP technology in some of the later releases."

Wade said the most important feature DEH was seeking was improved business intelligence capabilities. "So data warehousing, analytics, reporting," he said.

DEH recently commenced the upgrade process: "What we're doing in the first instance is the installation of SAP Enterprise Portal," said Wade. "And the installation of SAP Business Intelligence, Netweaver 2004S, the business warehouse reporting -- they're being installed right at the moment." The rollout is expected to take place over the next two years.

The agency has plans to move to version six of SAP's ERP Central Component software. "That's got a scheduled go-live date of July this year," said Wade. "But there'll be some other functionality which will get deployed thereafter. So we'll progressively roll out some further capabilities after that."

Tips from the top
Wade recommended those looking at similar SAP implementations to make sure they "thoroughly understand their own business" first.

"Go to the effort of understanding what capabilities do exist -- don't take a narrow thought process," he said. "Because certainly SAP is vast and complex, there's a hell of a lot of capability there people don't realise exists and probably miss out on."

Meanwhile, SAP's Duet software, a joint project with Microsoft that enables customers to interact with mySAP ERP through Microsoft Office, received the thumbs up.

"We've seen some demonstrations at a couple of user conferences, and it looks pretty impressive, there's no doubt about that," Wade said. "We use Microsoft Outlook here, and it [Duet] would meet out business processes quite well, but it's not in scope for us in the short to medium term."

"But certainly we'll be interested to look at that later on."

Wade also weighed in on SAP's licensing terms, which some Australian users have labelled overly complex.

"It's pretty complex," he said of his company's own SAP licence. "But I haven't really got any complaints, because we've got a pretty good relationship with SAP Australia."

Wade said the German vendor took DEH through the agreement in detail. "So it became understandable," he said. "But certainly, anybody who's going to take the path and progress to a mySAP ERP licence agreement, they certainly have to go to the effort to understand the content."

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