CN ships SAP applications to front-end operations

ORLANDO – CN is extending its SAP applications deeper into its operations, the railroad announced here during the software company’s annual Sapphire conference.

“We have pushed the SAP footprint further into the rail business processes than any other railway in the world has, and we continue to keep doing that,” said Al Capes, the railway’s manager of business solutions.

SAP will deliver applications to allow wireless inspection and maintenance of CN’s rail network, optimize revenue and customer management processes, integrate its diverse logistics services and standardize IT functions such as employee portals.

The railroad began using SAP solutions in 1998 to run a number of back-office functions including finance, supply management, human resources and payroll.

Originally, CN decided to build around an SAP platform to manage its hard assets, he said. Now it is moving to use it for more non-traditional functions such as managing crew schedules.

Under the latest agreement, CN will be adding mySAP, CRM, SRM (supplier relationship management) and PLM (product lifecycle management) applications to its existing SAP infrastructure, as well as SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization software.

Dubbed Transportation Management Connectivity, the railroad hopes to eventually be able to integrate its services into customer’s systems.

Capes estimated some 12,000 of CN’s 22,000 employees have access to the SAP system now, and that will only increase when the latest implementation is finished in 2010.

Capes refused to put a price tag on the project, which will be jointly implemented with Accenture and Hewlett-Packard. The deal also calls for SAP to work with the railroad to jointly purse initiatives to promote SAP technologies across the rail industry.

In other conference news, SecurIT, an Oakville, Ont.-based international document management and destruction firm, has completed a five-month implementation of mySAP ERM and CRM, the first phase of a two-year, $12 million project.

“Our (old) systems were inhibiting us from growing,” said Dan Snider, the company’s vice-president of business systems. Each of the company’s 140 branches had its own truck management system. In addition, because of currency limitations with its Great Plains financial system, it needed eight copies of that application to cover the many countries it operates in.

“We spent more time managing information that using it,” he said.

Snider said the speedy first phase implementation couldn’t have been done in time without the assistance of an SAP system that was able to preconfigure a version of the ERP application based on other implementations done in the services industry.

It also helped staff morale, he added, that president and CEO Greg Brophy promised employees in writing that in bringing in the new system no one would lose their job, that all would be trained in using the applications,to regularly report on the project’s status and to listen to staff’s ideas for using it.

Sapphire 2006 wraps up Friday.

Comment: [email protected]

Photo credit: CN

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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