Balfour Beatty topped financial forecasts with a 25 per cent rise in annual profits on the back of record order books for its full 2005 financial year. The company is made up of around 18 different businesses, operating in a number of markets, including civil engineering and energy, road and rail services and construction. Balfour Beatty’s long-term strategy is to work on sustainable projects, like infrastructure developments in road and rail links, which need long term support, according to its CIO Ajey Sharma.

The IT department is currently rolling out two major projects, a VoIP network and Oracle ERP to the whole group. Both projects are being driven by the demands of the business according to Sharma. “For example, historically each business had its own network, but now that the organisation offers clients solutions from across a range of the businesses we needed to make communications easier, so we are replacing the network.”

The Oracle ERP project has been rolled out to a third of the group so far and is scheduled to be finished at the end of 2008. “We have invested £32 million in this project as a way to move the business forward via electronic procurement and electronic invoicing, linking to other systems including the clients’ own ERP systems.” Sharma says the company is taking particular care to prepare staff for the rollout because it is such an important project for the business.

“Training staff across the businesses, whether they are surveyors, HR or finance people, so they are ready for the solution when it arrives for them is a large task.”

The company is implementing the finance, project, HR, payroll and purchasing functions in Oracle eBusiness on an Oracle 9i database running on Sun Solaris servers.

“Construction tends to be a small margin business, so we are not bleeding edge in terms of technology. We are developing projects for collaboration where we need to share documents across multiple sites,” says Sharma.

The company is also developing its mobile and wireless capabilities. “Some of the businesses have a couple of thousand mobile engineers so it makes good business sense to use the information more effectively, say through handheld devices, and we will be doing more of this during the next year.”

“Training staff across the businesses, whether they are surveyors, HR or finance people, so they are ready for the solution when it arrives for them is a large task”
– Ajey Sharma, CIO, Balfour Beatty