EDS, PwC add SAP to alphabet soup

The management consulting division of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and technology outsourcing giant Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) Tuesday created an alliance to provide customers with installation, delivery and maintenance of software systems from SAP AG.

In an attempt to tap the market for outsourced support and management of ERM (enterprise resource management) software systems, such as those developed by Walldorf, Germany-based SAP, PwC Consulting and EDS have agreed to combine efforts to serve their customers in the space. Market research company International Data Corp. this year estimated the size of the market in 2001 at US$40 billion worldwide.

"The backbone of the whole organization is the thing we're going after," said Scott Beckman, a partner with PwC Consulting.

An ERM system includes the software that companies use to manage inventory in a supply chain and handle orders, billing and shipping, as well as the systems used to manage sales and CRM (customer relationship management).

"We've had a lot of our clients for the last two years trying to evaluate how to best maximize the value of keeping the systems going," Beckman said.

Most organizations that use ERP software are faced with managing upgrade cycles, new features such as wireless access to ERP systems and staff training, he said. The question that the two consultancies plan to answer is how users should go about managing those issues.

PwC Consulting and EDS haven't announced any initial customers who will use services through the alliance, though Beckman said that five Fortune 100 organizations are close to signing up. EDS has seen interest from companies working in markets including energy, finance, government and consumer products, according to Pam Riley, vice president of global alliances at EDS.

Combined, PwC Consulting and EDS employ 10,000 IT consultants trained to build and support systems running SAP's software, the companies said.

The alliance will focus initially on customers in the U.S. and expand to Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East some time in 2002 after the program is tested with early customers.

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