New Auckland government agency chooses SAP to support operations

By Elizabeth Kelleher

Auckland Transport has implemented a new SAP system, which has successfully supported the operations of the agency since it went live on 1 November 2010.

The agency, which recently assumed the transport-related functions previously provided by Auckland Regional Council, Auckland Regional Transport Authority and six city and district councils, has successfully run a number of full business processes including payroll runs, finance and procurement processes.

With a tight, immoveable timeframe and a limited budget, Auckland’s Transition Agency, which was was responsible for the project, elected to take a copy of an existing SAP environment and use that as a baseline for a new system.

SAP Global Delivery in India had a fixed scope to create the new system which, after an upgrade and database conversion, was then handed over to SAP New Zealand to configure to meet the needs of the agency.

Roger Jones, general manager of IT and business systems, Auckland Transition Agency, said a number of factors led to the decision to copy an existing environment.

“Copying the environment was low cost, low risk and much quicker than building a system from scratch,” he said.

“Another crucial consideration was that we had to be able to implement a new system without putting existing services at risk. The only alterations we made were to bring processes more in-line with best practice, where the cost of change was negligible. For example, we simplified the time and leave processes.”

Glenn Bittle, who directed the project, said creating a system for a brand new organisation posed a unique set of challenges for the team.

For example, while a steering committee directed the project, the implementation team often had to make decisions on behalf of people who had not yet been hired.

“It is also unusual to have an immutable date for a go-live,” said Bittle. “During the project, people would ask about contingency dates. That wasn’t an option. There was legislation that required Auckland Transport be operational on 1 November. We had to meet that date. That was very challenging when the new organisation’s management team and staff weren’t in place.”

Jones said that despite the challenges the project has been very successful, with the implementation team meeting the go-live date on time and within budget.

“From day one, employees have been able to enter timesheets, apply for leave and be paid. We’ve been able to raise POs for suppliers and we’ve been able to pay them,” he said.

“Most importantly, though, the user feedback from staff and managers has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re running a variety of both online and classroom-style training to get users up to speed and people are saying that the system is really good and easy to use,” said Jones.

In the next few months, the implementation team will focus on improving key performance reporting to align with business needs as they emerge.

Graeme Riley, managing director, SAP New Zealand, said the success of the project is a testament to the co-operation between the local project team in Auckland and the Global Delivery team in India.

“By taking the approach they did Auckland Transport was able to meet its legal obligations as a new Council-controlled organisation from day one with a future-proofed ERP system that meets industry best practice.”

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