“We have deliberately set out to rationalize and our ultimate picture is to standardize down on to the three major suppliers,” Bell said.
“So we will stay with Oracle, with JDE platform, which is probably our dominant footprint. We still have some business units likely to stay on the SAP R3 platform. And then we have a number of our business units in the international area that are using Infor.”
As part of the rationalisation of Group Technology, support around those ERP platforms is also centralised.
“So it's effectively one central support team still divided up into the various specialty areas like Oracle JDE and SAP but managed as a total team," he added.
Five projects are completed and three more are in progress but Fletcher Building still boasts 67 ERP instances - driven largely by PlaceMakers 50 instances of Ace software. But that is being dealt to.
“We are replacing the back-end as we speak with the JDE platform,” Bell said. “And then the intention is that JDE platform will be rolled out across those branches."
Long-term, Bell reckoned, seven ERP instances in total is achievable.
In Fletcher Building’s construction division, group financial controller Terry Patterson is in charge of a project called Lion Rock, covering not just replacing an end-of-life ERP system but payroll and time and attendance systems among others. The aim: a single, consistent Oracle JDE platform with Kronos managing time and attendance.
Construction covers building and interiors, infrastructure, specialty brands and the South Pacific region, Patterson explained. Since last August, it also embraces new acquisition Higgin's Contracting.
“We've just completed the first phase which was to put it into construction New Zealand and the South Pacific," he said. "We completed that in September on time and on budget with the programme, so we're pleased about that.”
Patterson said JDE is really the industry standard for construction in New Zealand with other users including Fulton Hogan and Downer.
Payroll at Construction is standardized on Chris 21 from Frontier Software. Such standardisation across the $2 billion division enables the development of a common set of business processes.
"So it doesn't matter where you go in Construction now, the system is configured the same, looks the same, operates the same," he said. "That's giving us a lot of efficiency and the ability to move our teams around because we have an increasingly mobile workforce.
"It's a lot easier for our people to work, to be able to get more real-time commercials, which is one of our goals. We can get plant, labour, and material costs from the projects every week which allows us to manage the programme. That's an important commercial goal of the executive."
The other benefit of the JDE rollout was to bring the company’s seven South Pacific operations into the corporate system. The last piece of Lion Rock is to extend that to Higgins, by next May.
While Patterson’s Lion Rock is being pushed through in Construction, the broader consolidation has a longer term time-frame of maybe five more years because it is driven by individual business cases.
"We respond to the business,” Bell said. "So you get business units that basically can no longer get value from their ERP platform. They drive through the business case to Capex request and approval and then we get involved to help implement it alongside the business."
Everything is moving to the digital world, he adds, but to do an effective online proposition you have to have web enabled back-end systems.
"You've got to be able to drill down and look at inventory levels or work in progress levels," he added.
"That’s the desired end state: a web and mobile enabled company with clean processors and a much higher levels of integration within and across business units.
Bell in particular, credits staff for taking up the challenge.
“I have a really good team," he said. "We've worked really hard on staff engagement. We've got very high levels, now sitting at 75 percent. That’s good for an IT environment.
“When people are bringing their best selves to work every day you start to move mountains."