SAP project saves travel firm £140m in 20 months

Travel firm Thomas Cook saved £140m in the 20 months to November 2002 with an IT and business transformation project.

Travel firm Thomas Cook saved £140m in the 20 months to November 2002 with an IT and business transformation project.

The four-year programme has helped the company to record an £80m turnaround in net revenue and helped it back to profitability.

Thomas Cook is standardising on SAP as the main software tool for the group internationally. The £1.7m implementation involves human resources, financials and business intelligence software for 11,000 employees across its airline, travel agency and tour operator divisions.

The staged roll-out of the mySAP modules began in August 2002 with Financials. In April, Employee Self Services went live. Later this year, the company plans to roll out SAP Business Information Warehouse and SAP Materials Management for Procurement.

The SAP implementation follows the 10-year, £120m deal Thomas Cook signed with Accenture in March 2002 for a centralised IT services centre to manage its dispersed finance, HR and IT functions. About 400 Thomas Cook employees transferred to Accenture in the deal.

The centralised IT centre, based at Thomas Cook's head office in Peterborough, runs mySAP software on Sun servers. It was designed to replace legacy systems created for three separate Thomas Cook businesses.

Marco Trecroce, Thomas Cook's group business transformation and operations director, said the previous system was very wasteful because everything was done in triplicate.

Since signing the deal with Accenture, Thomas Cook has cut the number of its UK offices from 24 to seven. It has made further savings by outsourcing the management of 50 legacy applications to India; conducting SAP development work in Spain; moving its head office out of London; and cutting staff.

The number of IT staff employed by the company has fallen by 53%, finance staff are down 55%, and HR staff have been cut by 17% since the transformation drive began in July 2001.

The company is standardising on as a corporate portal. "It is the primary interface for our staff," said Trecroce. "For the first time we are able to provide common services to our staff."

Trecroce anticipates further savings as the company continues to strip out legacy applications, improving business processes and consolidating further on SAP.

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