Burger King Corp. is serving an upgrade of SAP AG's business applications to its end users. It's one of a small but growing number of fast-food companies that are standardizing their systems on packaged enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.
The Miami-based company last month upgraded its installation of SAP's R/3 human resources and finance applications to Version 4.6c. That sets the stage for future phases of the upgrade of Burger King's SAP R/3 ERP application to the mySAP.com suite.
During the next year, the company also plans to turn on treasury, real estate, budget management and self-service human resources applications as part of the migration, according to Rafael Sanchez, Burger King's CIO.
For Burger King, the big appeal of mySAP is the software's integration capabilities and technical maturation, according to Sanchez.
Between 60 percent and 70 percent of the custom modifications in SAP's earlier finance and human resources releases will be replaced by mySAP functionality, he said. In addition, the real estate management application will replace a custom application written in SAP's ABAP programming language, Sanchez said.
In general, companies in industries such as fast food and retail have been slower to adopt ERP technology than manufacturers, said Peter Abell, an analyst at Boston-based AMR Research Inc.
Some companies are hesitant to change because they face considerable rollout challenges, especially if their corporate IT systems are linked to individual stores or franchises that have workers who are relatively unfamiliar with technology, Abell said.
But Burger King isn't alone in turning to a third party.
Chick-fil-A Inc., an Atlanta-based chain, ties its 1,000 restaurants in 34 states to its data center's core ERP system via a virtual private network. The data center uses Oracle Financials to aggregate sales and daily business data, said Mark Brackett, director of information systems at Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A also plans to add Oracle Internet Expenses to the ERP system within the next month.
Last August, Chick-fil-A upgraded to Oracle's E-Business Suite 11i from Version 10.7. It installed human resources, financials and payroll applications and added receivables, cash management and order management software.
Brackett said the Oracle suite, which runs on HP-UX servers, has helped Chick-fil-A automate its accounting system, making it possible for the company to open new stores without having to add a commensurate number of IT employees to support them.