Ardent bowled over by leisurely ERP rollout

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Ardent bowled over by leisurely ERP rollout

Consolidates accounting software across diverse operations.

Fun park giant Ardent Leisure has embarked on a three-year journey to build a single accounting system across its many entertainment divisions - rolling out the Oracle-owned JD Enterprise One 9.0 suite across its theme parks, ten-pin bowling alleys, marinas and health clubs.

The ASX-listed company, which is running a 15-year-old JD Edwards suite at its flagship Dreamworld theme park in Southern Queensland, decided to upgrade to the latest JD accounting suite across all of its entities to enable easier decision making and reporting.

Ardent Leisure owns the Dreamworld and WhiteWater World fun parks, 45 AMF and three Kingpin ten pin bowling centres, some 40 Goodlife Health Clubs and seven d'Albora Marinas.

To date, all of these operations have run a mix of either outdated ERP systems (Dreamworld runs the 15-year old JD Edwards World suite) or a "mish-mash" of tier three accounting solutions such as Sage's ACCPAC.

Jon Ives, group IT manager at Ardent Leisure said that two years ago the company began scouring the market for an accounting solution that would work across all of its diverse entertainment businesses.

"We reviewed the marketplace and looked at a cost-benefit for moving to JD Enterprise One, and found a strong story to migrate," he said.

Ives said the company started the JD Enterprise One migration with d'Albora Marinas in November 2009 - its smallest operation - because the marina business had specific requirements around billing cycles that would put the software to the test.

Goodlife Health Clubs was brought on board in April 2010, and now AMF and Kingpin Bowling were due for upgrades in November 2010. The company expected to bring online the theme parks Dreamworld and WhiteWater World in the second quarter of 2011.

Ives told iTnews that each rollout required a lot of work around business process reviews and re-training of staff.

"With ERP there are always business processes unique to each type of division," he said. "There is a process of reviewing and re-engineering business processes involved, which does involve some change management."

Benefits

Ardent expected the rollout to provide management with a top-down view of its operations and ease its reporting burden to the ASX.

"The key benefit we're looking for is consolidation of accounting software across the group," Ives said.

"Once [the ERP suite] is integrated with the different flavours of POS (point of sale) software we have in each division, it should give us reporting visibility across the whole group.

"The consolidation process will also mean our reporting to the stock market is much improved," he said.

The new ERP suite ran on VMware virtual machines hosted on Dell servers and was available via the browser - either within Ardent's private network distributed around the main offices of its various entities or via VPN for staff in remote locations.

The ERP system was also being integrated with the firm's NorthgateArinso owned Preced HR and Payroll systems.

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