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Home construction firm chooses SAP, snubs J.D. Edwards

Home builder John Laing Homes ignores industry standard J.D. Edwards and chooses SAP for Engineering, Construction and Operations.

Housing construction firms have grown to like the scheduling tools and management features in Oracle Corp.'s newly acquired J.D. Edwards OneWorld software, but an appearance of instability around Oracle's various acquisitions had at least one firm looking elsewhere.

Using the J.D. Edwards product would have been the natural, easy thing for us to do and we assumed that's where we were headed.
Steven Scardina,
vice president of ITJohn Laing Homes

John Laing Homes, which builds luxury homes in California and Colorado, recently completed an implementation of SAP for Engineering, Construction and Operations. The Newport Beach, Calif.-based firm is also using IDS Scheer's business process modeling features and SAP consulting services for the implementation, said Steven Scardina, vice president of IT at John Laing Homes.

"Using the J.D. Edwards product would have been the natural, easy thing for us to do and we assumed that's where we were headed," Scardina said. "But we saw a lot more depth and breadth with SAP and thought we would be trailblazers."

John Laing had been outgrowing its current software and systems and needed to make a move, Scardina said. The company's database had grown too cumbersome and the legacy software couldn't be easily extended to field agents.

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"One of the biggest challenges and compelling reasons is that our company has grown so significantly in the last two years that we ran out of company codes or legal entities that we can describe in our current software," Scardina said. "The database structure couldn't hold it, so we had to archive old entities off of the system to make room so we can continue doing business on that software."

The new software contains SAP's core R/3 Enterprise suite with tools configured for the home-building industry. John Laing's first four divisions will be fully migrated to the new software by May 1, and nearly a dozen other divisions will be online by the end of the year.

The company is changing many of its labor-intensive business processes, Scardina said. For example, home-building software was traditionally custom-developed to provide unique options to prospective home buyers. The process of custom-creating and managing customer options using the new software forced John Laing to change some roles for individual employees.

"We really had to think about how and who we want managing our options on a daily basis," Scardina said.

Scardina is also using IDS Scheer's ARIS business process modeling platform. He said the tool allows him to associate external software and SAP software transactions with newly defined business processes.

"It helps us to lay out what it takes to achieve a particular business process," Scardina said. "Instead of giving end-user documentation and screen shots using SAP, they'll understand how process flows and what outputs are and a result of the process ."

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