BBC to refresh ERP estate

By Stuart Sumner
25 Feb 2013 View Comments
SAP building

The BBC is currently looking to upgrade its entire Enterprise Resource Planning estate – a major project sure to take several years to complete at a likely multi-million pound cost.

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Speaking exclusively to Computing recently, BBC CTO John Linwood explained that the BBC's current ERP estate is in dire need of a refresh.

"The BBC's ERP estate is quite long in the tooth," said Linwood. "It doesn't give us all the features we'd like to have, including business intelligence [BI]."

He described the current procurement exercise to replace and upgrade the entire estate to modern standards, saying that it needs to enable a lot of functionality the organisation does not have today.

The BBC is currently a SAP shop. While Linwood refused to name the vendors he is currently talking to, he intimated that they are the "usual suspects", meaning they are likely to include Oracle and IBM.

The organisation is also looking at cloud HR system vendors.

"We are looking at technology on the HR side which will help in terms of people and skills management. We're looking at a number of firms like People Soft and [SAP acquisition] SuccessFactors."

Linwood explained that he would like managers to be able to approve expenses on a mobile device, or to change employee details from a phone, to enable greater mobility and flexibility.

"We're looking at more empowerment for managers and employees, being better able to manage our own data and environments," he said.

"And on the finance side we're looking for better BI, reporting and analytics. A lot of it is improving the interface, and making it work on mobile devices and allowing remote access. These are things which would make people's lives easier in their jobs."

He added that this refreshment programme, in common with other major projects at the BBC, aims to result in more flexible contracts.

"With all our technology contracts we look at being more flexible," he sid. "The BBC historically signed very long duration vendor contracts, because five to 10 years ago that was the best way to get value for money.

"But now technology changes so fast you don't want long-term contracts, you want flexibility. So we're now looking at 4+1 years."

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