Building group saves £10m a year by replacing its legacy systems

Building materials group RMC has saved £10m a year on IT costs by replacing legacy software with a single SAP system.

Building materials group RMC has saved £10m a year on IT costs by replacing legacy software with a single SAP system.

The company moved from Vax machines running Cobol-based software in separate iterations for each of its 18 company units to one single SAP R/3 4.6 system running on Sun Solaris with Oracle databases and EMC storage.

The environment is being run by T-Systems, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom.

RMC is three years into the four-year, £40m transformation project and expects the SAP system to have paid for itself by the time installation is complete at the end of 2004.

RMC's deputy managing director John Robinson said the company decided to move to a national structure and then sought a single IT architecture to facilitate the shift.

"We looked first at the business model we wanted to pursue," he said. "We needed better data to give better customer service and decided on a shared service centre. The Vax environment provided very good information at the local level but not at a higher level."

According to Robinson, the implementation is delivering the functionality required by the business and the project is running to budget but there has been some time slippage because of the complexity of the roll-out.

IS director Stephen Banks said, "Getting co-ordination and agreement across multiple divisions was a challenge. We have many different organisations doing very different things - making roof tiles, railway sleepers, flooring blocks - and mapping the SAP roll-out to the way our different companies operate takes some work."

The project began in January 2001. The first pilots went live in November of that year. Sales, finance and procurement systems have already been rolled out to most of the group's companies and the roll-out of SAP modules to 15 of the group's building materials factories was completed in September 2003. Another 25 factories will go live in early 2004.

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