Honda Aust dumps global track with $5m package buy

Honda Australia has abandoned the company's global ethos of internal innovation with the selection of a $5 million JD Edwards enterprise resource planning implementation.

The automotive manufacturer has long been a proponent of developing software internally and the company uses very few packaged applications throughout its entire global operations. The JDE software will replace an "unwieldy" and dated proprietary application, said Lindsay Smalley, Honda's general manager for customer services.

Smalley said Honda is very much a do-it-yourself company.

"Honda designs and builds brilliantly engineered cars and engines and really concentrates on that 'do it yourself, don't be conformist' philosophy of Mr Honda, and that filters right through the whole organisation," Smalley said.

"For us to then say we're not going to build our own new generational set of systems was a very difficult decision.

"We had to negotiate hard with Honda Motor in Japan to get it to agree to buy a package.

"This is a big investment; it has to take us at least five years ahead of the competition," he said.

JDE's OneWorld financials, distribution, manufacturing and customer service management modules will be implemented on a new AS/400, said Laurence Lau, Honda's IT manager. All modules except customer service management are due to go live on April 1, and the final module is scheduled for December 2000, Lau said. Implementation has already begun.

Honda evaluated applications from vendors including Oracle, Baan, SAP and SSA before selecting JDE.

He said the OneWorld system was far more flexible than the custom application it was replacing.

"JDE is a more cost effective, efficient solution than developing in-house," Lau said.

"From the users' point of view, they were more comfortable with the flexibility of JDE where they could change business rules without coming back through IT for those changes.

"I would like to see Honda's IT role progressing, once JDE is implemented, away from being too heavy on the technical aspects and moving into that of advisers supporting the business," Lau said.

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