With only ten days left until the first tranche of its pioneering ERP overhaul goes live, the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (DTIRIS) says it is still on track and on budget, and is even hoping to extend its cloud based solution to new agencies before the financial year is out.
Director General Mark Paterson AO and Chief Information Officer David Kennedy told a Parliamentary Inquiry into public sector ICT yesterday that the secret to the project’s success was shaping the organisation to the software rather than the other way around.
“Our approach has been fundamentally different from other ICT projects...the general rule of thumb has been we cannot configure the system. We will be changing our business process,” Kennedy told the inquiry committee.
“In the past we have taken other people’s solutions and modified them to suit our needs, and then surprise surprise we find that the bits don’t all fit together as we might have hoped. By buying an out of the box solution, we know it works,” added the Director-General.
The $14 million ERP consolidation project should pay for itself in just over a year, with the NSW Government expected to save $12.5 million per annum due to the transformation.
Based on the SAP ByDesign cloud platform, the new ERP system will be delivered on a software-as-a-service basis, which Kennedy says will cost the Department a flat rate of $3 million per year.
He added that the scale of the project, which is the biggest cloud-based ERP transition ever conducted by SAP, meant that the reputational risks were as tangible for the provider as they were for DTIRIS itself in this instance.
“We actually don’t see SAP as a vendor, we see them as our partner. They have as much skin in the game as we do,” he said.
The finance component of the new platform is on track to go live in early December 2012. The payroll component is due to follow on 31 January 2013, with the flexibility to be held back a fortnight if anything at all is not satisfactorily resolved.
The Department will then move onto Stage Two which Paterson hopes will involve cluster agencies he had never originally envisaged would be part of the consolidation program.
“We are hopeful that in the second stage of the roll-out we will be able to bring the cultural institutions who are within the cluster, such as the Art Gallery of NSW, the Australian Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, the State Library and possibly the Opera house onto this platform.
“That has never been something within the scope of this project in the past. But we are hopeful that we will be capable of doing that in stage two which should be rolled out by 30 June 2013,” he said.
Despite taking a detour around ServiceFirst for the implementation of the new solution (ERP services such as payroll are currently provided to the cluster through disparate means including through shared services provider ServiceFirst), Kennedy says that the Department is still committed to whole-of-government shared services reforms.
“The problem was that shared services could not address our particular problems in the timeframe we needed,” he said. “This project was always touted as a tactical response to the current situation with the end goal being part of the corporate and shared services reform program.”
Under the original model for the corporate and shared services reform program (CSSRP) in NSW (which is currently under review) DTIRIS and the Office of Environment and Heritage would fully transition corporate functions to a centralised shared services provider by 2015.
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