Prisons lock up ERP implementation

Federal Prison Industries, a $600 million-per-year self-supporting government

corporation, will be the first organization worldwide to implement the latest

version of SAP America Inc.'s enterprise resource planning software.

The agency, also known as Unicor, manufactures and sells metals, furniture,

textiles, electronics and graphics services to other government agencies.

Unicor employs 20,290 inmates. The ERP system will be used to log and track

orders.

SAP's ERP system will replace a decentralized material resource planning

system of outdated hardware and software at 40 sites, said Thomas Phalen,

chief information officer and SAP project manager at Unicor.

The new system will be based on a centralized database in Washington, D.C.,

Phalen said during a speech at the ERP for Government conference Tuesday

in Alexandria, Va. The conference was sponsored by the GPRA Institute, a

division of the International Quality and Productivity Center.

Unicor's $11 million ERP implementation will be completed May 30, Phalen

said. Development and planning started in December 1999. Testing began after

the SAP software became available four weeks ago, he said.

Phalen offered three key items for successful implementation of ERP:

* Have strong leadership and project management. "You have to put someone

in charge and give them authority to make the call," Phalen said.

* Train users intensively.

* Use a commercial ERP solution in its purest form, rather than customizing

the product.

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