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United Biscuits slashes SAP maintenance costs with Rimini Street

The snack manufacturer has also benefited from improved support for customised applications

British snack supplier United Biscuits, which owns brands such as McVitie's, KP Nuts, Hula Hoops, and Twiglets, has saved hundreds of thousand of pounds in maintenance costs by moving from SAP vendor support to Rimini Street.

Clifford Burroughs, CIO of United Biscuits, decided to make the switch to Rimini Street in 2011, after assessing the company's core ERP (enterprise resource planning) apps and determining that they were mature and stable, and that any new innovations coming from SAP were limited.

He concluded that the rising cost of annual maintenance from SAP for the company's ECC 6.0 app was failing to provide a satisfactory return on investment.

Burroughs was keen to find a third party maintenance provider with a proven track record in the SAP space. He ended up choosing Rimini Street based on its reputation and customer testimonials.

"If I look back, I'm amazed how relaxed Rimini were in terms of trying to sell to us. A lot of other enterprise suppliers are almost breaking your door down, but Rimini were very confident of their case," he said.

In switching to Rimini Street's support model, UB was able to reduce its annual SAP maintenance spend by 50 percent, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of savings within the first year, according to Burroughs.

"The reason we can do the 50 percent is not that it's a cut-price, cheap model. It's the fact that both SAP and Oracle make 90-odd percent margins on their support and maintenance business," said Nigel Pullan, Group VP for EMEA at Rimini Street.

"So we can add additional support features, cut their price in half and still make a healthy profit out of it."

UB has used the money saved to drive improvements in its core SAP system, and fund other business and IT objectives. For example, Burroughs has invested some of the money in cloud-based applications that drive simplicity and accessibility within the organisation.

Cost reductions have not been the only benefit of UB's move to Rimini Street, however. Burroughs said that one of the things he values most is having recognised contacts within the Rimini Street organisation that have a working knowledge of how the UB system is configured.

United Biscuits signed a contract with Rimini Street three months prior to terminating its support contract with SAP. This gave the support team at Rimini Street time to get to know UB's environment, and also allowed UB to familiarise itself Rimini Street's support processes.

Burroughs was assigned a UK-based Primary Support Engineer, who provided support not only for "vanilla" SAP applications but also for modifications that the company had made to its systems, at no additional fee.

"If you've got a problem it could be coming from data, it could be coming from a modification, it could be coming from standard code, it could be coming from an interface, it could be coming from the relationship with databases - all sorts of different areas," said Pullan.

"If you call SAP they will just look at the application and if it's not a problem with the pure vanilla application then they won't help you. So coming to Rimini Street, we resolve issues wherever the problem is coming from."

Burroughs said that the move to Rimini Street was like a return to a personal account managed service. He said: "When you're stable in your organisation you really want to be able to keep relying on the same people, and you need that kind of stability going forwards."

Rimini Street also provides tax, legal and regulatory updates, to ensure that UB remains in compliance with the latest HMRC legislations. The company claims that the process efficiencies gained from an improved level of service have contributed to further cost savings for the company.

Burroughs is now considering transferring the maintenance for UB's large JD Edwards implementation in Northern Europe to Rimini Street. However, he said the deal is not yet "locked and loaded," because there is still a fair amount of change taking place on the JD Edwards platform.

"While they're doing that you might still want to take support from Oracle directly, because the more change you're doing the more chance you've got of stumbling across something in a system that's a bit odd, and you would need that deep specialised knowledge that the seller of the software might be able to provide," he said.

However, Burroughs admitted that this was a bit of a false reality, stating: "In truth, when you get into it, Rimini Street often know more than some of those guys inside JD Edwards."

He added that being confident in the continued growth and stability of partners like Rimini Street is part of the overall needs of a CIO.

"You don't want to be worrying about your really big suppliers not having good assurance in their services," he concluded.


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