Four ERPs, One Enterprise, No Qualms

by Amit Tripathi    Nov 18, 2004

Managing an ERP is an extremely arduous task. However, for Johnson & Johnson, it’s a walk in the park. The company uses not one but four branded ERPs all under one roof, without any hiccups. This example drives home the point that managing an ERP solution is all about top notch business process re-engineering.

Speaking to CXOtoday, Kiran Chandras, GM-IT, Johnson & Johnson India, said, “We are using four different ERPs for various divisions in our enterprise. The consumer product division uses SAP that interacts with Oracle 9i database. The medical division uses PeopleSoft (formerly JDE), which again interacts with an Oracle database, while the pharma division uses Great Plains from Microsoft that talks to an SQL Server 7 database. The fourth ERP, BPCS coupled with a DB2 database, is used for data consolidation from the other three ERP systems.”

The obvious question that arises is that how can four ERPs talk together without any fallout?

The data consolidation in this case is a crucial aspect, as the ERP has to deal with data from different ERPs coming out in different formats. Says Chandras, “Our in-house IT team has developed an EAI tool through which data gets downloaded and offloaded according to the need.”

Chandras credits his success especially to the top management who according to him are extremely IT savvy. Explains Chandras, “Unlike other MNCs, our approach in addressing business operations has gradually evolved from being local to regional, and now even to the point of being global.” He adds that the enterprise follows the policy of allowing any regional IT initiative as a prerogative of the region and the local team.

Thus as IT head, Chandras not only handles issues specific to requirements in India but also in the APAC region. He adds, “Networking with IT heads from other regions helps in gaining insights and expertise. Thus managing four different ERPs has never been an issue.”

“We have not faced any attrition issue, especially in the IT department since the employees now get to increase their ability on different technologies simultaneously, apart from the fact that ours is a very employee friendly enterprise globally,” mentioned Chandras.

The enterprise has 150 user licenses of SAP and PeopleSoft and each is rolled out to around 15 locations over a network that uses a combination of 2 Mbps and 64 Kbps lines depending on the data traffic. Chandras informs, “Part of our network infrastructure is outsourced to Singapore based NCS that handles patch management, router configuration, etc.”

The company uses Windows NT at the server level and Windows 2000 at the desktops. While the mailing solution is MS Exchange, the data resides on IBM and HP servers at Johnson and Johnson.

But its not that Chandras has no worry. He says, “As a IT head I need to strike a balance in meeting the local as well as regional demands. Thus expectations are usually very high from the IT team in general.”

Tags: ERPs