Colin James is the Penguin – Random House Group IT director, and in April 2008 oversaw the successful rollout of an SAP solution across the business to replace an outdated legacy application. Colin says “SAP is the standard business application at Bertelsmann and so there were benefits to be gained from this synergy at group level. Amongst the benefits that we wanted delivered by SAP were better visibility across our financial information combined with improved reporting and workflow management”.
Despite a successful go live, the implementation had not been without its issues. Colin says “The SAP partner that carried out the implementation lacked sufficient knowledge of the publishing industry. This had a knock-on effect on the project timescales, implementation quality and the agreed deliverables”. He continued, “This lack of industry understanding made it imperative for us to find a replacement SAP partner who could relate to us as a publishing business, whilst at the same time providing a high level of overall SAP knowledge and expertise”.
Shortly after the implementation had been completed, the search for a new SAP support partner started. Colin says “We really wanted the emphasis to be on ‘partner’ as opposed to ‘supplier’ and to find someone who could support us both strategically and operationally. We also felt it important to engage with someone who wasn’t unreasonably protective in terms of imparting knowledge and expertise. Ultimately we wanted a long term partner – not someone who would just disappear the moment we signed up”.
Following a review of potential providers and a proof of concept exercise in which Invenio delivered upon a number of enhancement requests, Penguin – Random House selected Invenio as their ongoing support partner. Colin said “We knew that Invenio had engaged on similar implementations in the past and had lived and breathed several projects within the publishing industry. We also undertook a number of reference visits together with the proof of concept exercises to give us absolute confidence that Invenio would be able to support our requirements going forward”.
Colin also cited a number of concerns about general offshore application support. He says “Despite major cost benefits, I had reservations generally about the efficiency of offshore support models and felt that this needed to be proved. To their credit, Invenio’s offshore support service is working very well”.