• Home
  • /
  • Business
  • /
  • SA`s CSIPER Consulting wins record R60 million-plus SAP R/3 contract from US food giant

SA`s CSIPER Consulting wins record R60 million-plus SAP R/3 contract from US food giant

Johannesburg, 11 May 1999

CSIPER Consulting, a South African company with a global presence in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market, has signed a two -year contract worth at least $10 million (about R63 million) to provide SAP R/3 implementation and training services to Farmland Industries, the largest farmer-owned co-operative in the USA.

This is believed to be the largest IT consultancy contract ever awarded to a South African company, beating a R54 million contract placed by Telkom in 1995.

It is also the first major international contract CSIPER has won directly since repositioning itself for local and global growth last October by withdrawing from an arrangement whereby it previously supplied SAP services exclusively through a joint venture with a Big-Six accounting firm.

The contract was signed with a company called OneSystem Group, a joint-venture company created by Farmland and a US partner to service its SAP implementation needs.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, Farmland had total sales exceeding $11,9 billion (about R75 billion) last year, placing it in the top 200 companies in the Fortune listings. A highly diversified company, it is involved in crop production and crop protection products, livestock feeds, petroleum, and the processing and marketing of grain, pork and beef products. Its $2,8 billion (about R17,5 billion) asset base includes fertiliser plants, the largest oil refinery in the US Midwest, grain elevators, feed mills, beef- and pork-processing plants and a transport fleet that includes over 4 400 rail trucks, and an interest in 100 dry-cargo barges and several ocean-going vessels.

"We have already placed 14 staff in Kansas City, working on four separate projects involving their grain, meat-processing and packaged-goods businesses, and Farmlands` own information technology development environment," says CSIPER CEO Hans Visser. "Depending on how things go and on Farmlands` own requirements, we will be supplying up to 20 consultants in total, meaning this initial contract could be worth up to $15 million (about R94 million)."

An unusual, possibly even unique, aspect of the project is that the CSIPER consultants working in Kansas City will be supported by their South African-based colleagues using high-speed networking and video-conferencing. Local consultants will be rewarded for this support by receiving bonuses from the offshore profits they help to generate.

"Use of this technology has enabled us to break ground in creating a borderless global firm, where the physical location of both client and consultant is less relevant, and where all of our expertise is available to any of our clients anywhere in the world," says Visser.

"This also enables our locally-based consultants to participate in and share the rewards of leading-edge international developments while continuing to live in South Africa."

The Farmlands project falls into the definition of leading edge. "The Meats Group implementation, for instance, involves real pioneering," he says. "Farmlands asked SAP for a reference site, but no similar operation could be found anywhere in the world."

With Farmlands` Grain Division, CSIPER has already facilitated a video conference between Farmlands personnel and their opposite numbers at South Africa`s Premier Foods, which is also a SAP R/3 user.

"There was a feeling that these two large food companies could share problems and learn from each other," he says, "and we were happy to set things up. The initial conference went well and seems to have been useful."

CSIPER won the Farmlands contract on the strength of its growing international reputation, Visser believes. Among the clients to which the consultancy has provided SAP R/3 services are many household names, including, in South Africa, Billiton, Caltex Oil Southern Africa, Conlog, Denel Aviation, Engen, Gelvenor Textiles, Iscor Speciality Steels, Land Rover SA, Lever Ponds, Mossgas, Promat (Logistics arm of Transnet), Robert Bosch SA, Safmarine, Sanlam Properties, South African Post Office, Telkom and Unifoods; and overseas, Barclays Bank, British American Tobacco, Johnson & Johnson, Mitsubishi Electric Taiwan and Singapore Airlines.

Some of these engagements involved taking over and rescuing projects from the brink of failure; in others CSIPER broke new ground, as it did in enabling subsidiaries of a major consumer products company operating in more than a dozen countries to view constantly updated information simultaneously in their own languages. Yet others clients went live far ahead of schedule and below budget.

"Two important aspect of CSIPER`s success," says Visser, "are, firstly, our philosophy of empowering clients to run and further develop their own ERP systems; secondly, the tools we developed in house to accelerate the transfer of SAP knowledge to clients` own staff. We are committed to further development of these tools and to taking practical steps to ensure that our philosophy continues to deliver bottom-line benefits to our clients."


Editorial contacts

Matthew White
IONA Press Services
(011) 462-5775
Hans Visser
CSIPER Consulting
(012) 341 3222