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Queensland Health rethinks $80 million SAP replacement

by Paris Cowan •
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Queensland Health has vowed to turn over a new leaf when it comes to its corporate ICT systems, even as it continues to struggle with the remediation of its notorious payroll overhaul.

“Suffice to say that our experience with payroll has really dampened our investment in ICT platforms over the past several years,” Deputy Director-General System Support Services at Queensland Health, Susan Middleditch, told industry members in Brisbane last week. “Today is really about letting you know that we are kicking off a journey that is really going to change this space for us.”

The department has pressed pause on its $80 million SAP replacement project to realign its trajectory with the ‘ICT-as-a-Service’ approach recently adopted by the Queensland Government.

According to the State-wide ICT Audit, Queensland Health commenced its SAP Assets Procurement Finance Information Resource project (SAPFIR – pronounced Sapphire) in 2010, with a projected budget of $80 million making it one of the most valuable ICT initiatives underway within the Queensland Government.

The SAPFIR project involves the implementation of the latest version of SAP finance, materials management and plant maintenance modules (ECC6), from the legacy 4.6b version currently in use. But Middleditch explained that the department is revising its approach.

“Our intention when we kicked off the program was obviously to replace our old FAMMIS [Finance and Materials Management Information System] with the new SAPFIR solution, and in the early days this was precisely what we were focussed on – replacing our old 1997 functionality with basically a new front end,” Middleditch told attendees.

“While this may have met the mandate of delivering a contemporary asset management, procurement, and finance solution, however, it certainly didn’t take into account the innovations in the current day. Basically what we would have been doing was putting an old timber wheel on a Ferrari,” she said.

To avoid old timber wheels, Queensland Health has embarked upon the first stage of a broader Corporate Solutions Renewal Program, and will spend the next six months in discussions with industry about what the market can offer as best practice in terms of asset management, procurement and finance solutions.

The program has two set in stone parameters:

  1. Queensland Health will not move away from the SAP platform, as integration with payroll is critical; and
  2. Queensland Health will adopt a single financial management solution system wide, meaning that independent Health and Hospital Services established under Commonwealth health reforms will not be implementing their own systems.

Beyond that says Middleditch “nothing is off the table… we are really testing the paradigm of normal”.

Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has already raised the prospect of “new multi-million dollar contractual arrangements” that will be signed to assist the implementation of a new financial solution, work on which is likely to start in 2014.

Queensland Health plans to release an overview of its Corporate Solutions Renewal Program in July and will invite feedback from industry through a series of formal meetings through August and September. The department will then seek approval to go ahead with the program in November, with a formal approach to market likely to follow sometime after this date.

View Queensland Health profile in GovFacts >>>

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Queensland Health will need $440 million to replace obsolete patient system

Queensland Health to complete $29 million email replacement by 2013


For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.

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