BBC casts around on future software investments

The BBC plans to talk to other organisations about the value and pitfalls of their financial software systems to find the best way forward.

The broadcasting...

The BBC plans to talk to other organisations about the value and pitfalls of their financial software systems to find the best way forward.

The broadcasting organisation is chasing an efficiency savings target of £1.9bn for the five-year period from 2008/09 to 2012/13.

"We have to demonstrate that we are meeting our efficiency saving target and that has to be done in an auditable way," said Richard Payne, head of finance operations at the BBC.

Richard Payne is in dialogue with SAP, the current supplier of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and financial systems, on how best to achieve this with the new technologies on offer.

But he is talking to outside advisors as well as other organisations in a similar position to the BBC, looking to get additional value of current software investments.

Like many other similar-sized organisations, the BBC needs to decide whether to upgrade to the latest version of the SAP ERP software or not.

Less expensive alternatives include deploying new technologies and delivery methods within SAP's strategy of synchronising on-premise applications with lower-cost, on-demand applications.

This offers the opportunity to meet business needs, deploy new systems rapidly and demonstrate relatively quick returns on investment.

The BBC has already achieved a 50% reduction in the cost of running the finance function that has included the deployment of systems within the SAP product set acquired from BusinessObjects.

"So obviously SAP is among the suppliers we are having discussions with to find the most appropriate way forward in a changing world," said Payne.

But he believes it is important to talk not only to software suppliers, but their customers and neutral third parties to fully understand the value and potential pitfalls of particular supplier roadmaps.

Only by gathering information as widely possible can organisations like the BBC be more certain of making the best choice to support current and future business needs, he said.

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