Rolls-Royce had very good results this year, with very favourable growth in all the sectors it operates in – civil and defence aerospace and marine power and energy. As ever IT has been playing a significant role in this growth, with strong project management and very aggressive timescales being the norm at the company. The ERP convergence programme has been rolled out in Germany and is being hailed as a major success. It has used new builds and overhauls to provide a single template for the company and roll outs in Canada and the US operations will complete later this year. “It is an IT project that has run early and the single operation is allowing us to open up our capacity and improve effectiveness. Everyone is pretty pleased with the results,” says CIO Jonathan Mitchell. Rolls-Royce has around 18,000 SAP users.

It has also been continuing a substantial CAD/CAM product lifecycle project to cut design and development times on the back of technology and process change. “This has made very good progress this year and the second phase is looking at the data management aspects,” says Mitchell. “This next phase is providing tangible benefits and we are hitting all our milestones for development.”

Rolls-Royce is very process focused, according to Mitchell, but tries hard not to customise software. “We are as close to vanilla SAP as we can be,” says Mitchell. “This is successful as we have common processes across the group. We would rather compromise and have 99 per cent rather than have to customise to get 100 per cent.”

The company continues to reduce operating costs through standardisation, and as a result IT investment tends to be at around 2.5 per cent of sales, whereas aerospace and defence investment is typically higher than that, according to Mitchell.

The next stage of Rolls-Royce’s IT strategy will be nine major investment teams looking at global supply chain and world class engineering. “This is a high level team, devising a two to three year roadmap strategic programme,” says Mitchell. “It has senior level support and will be responsible for delivering benefits and producing continued growth for the company.”