TechnologyBritish Waterways launches ebusiness portal

British Waterways launches ebusiness portal

British Waterways is spending £20m on an ebusiness portal as it overhauls legacy systems to cope with expanding business opportunities and improve efficiency.

The company is responsible for maintaining the UK’s 2000 miles of canals, rivers, docks, buildings and landscapes and the growth in its property development, leisure and water supply operations has forced an upgrade of its IT infrastructure.

The ten-year contract will see services company Logica implement and support the mySAP.com portal for British Waterways.

‘We have a legacy situation and it has worked fairly well for the last few years and if we were standing still that would be OK,’ said Mark Smith, who fills the role of both finance and IT director at the company.

‘Some of the information is very fragmented across the business and that was becoming an issue as it was potentially holding us back.’

The portal will provide a central point of access for employees to information that is currently fragmented around the company. The first phase is set to go live next April with financial and human resources modules.

The second phase of the project will see the portal provide external access to customers and suppliers and customer relationship management capability.

‘[in the second phase] We are trying to develop some e-procurement opportunities around construction and also to develop it with self service for staff and customers,’ said Smith.

Around 1200 British Waterways’ staff will initially have access to the SAP system from both office and remote locations, and the company estimates this user base to increase to at least 2200 over the next five years.

Smith would not reveal exact figures for a return on the £20m but said the contract had passed internal tests and should payback ‘within the first half’ of the ten-year deal.

British Waterways said it also insisted on a fixed-price contract to avoid the costs escalating out of control.

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