Boots SAP centre of expertise helps take back control

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Boots is taking back control of its IT from a time of outsourcing. The leading purveyor of pharmaceuticals in the UK is building up its own IT capability, including in respect of its SAP estate.

The organisation’s SAP centre of expertise has helped it take back control of the strategic direction of its IT. That is according to Steve Clark, SAP programme head at Boots – part of Walgreens Boots Alliance internationally – speaking with Computer Weekly at the recent SAP user conference in Birmingham.

The centre of expertise is largely based in the company’s home town of Nottingham, and comprises some 200 people. About half of these are permanent staff, with the rest coming from Indian IT services company Cognizant.

Clark, himself a “Nottingham lad”, recounts how Boots holds an important role in Nottinghamshire’s business landscape. “We do a lot of charitable work, for example with [cancer charity] Macmillan.

The Boot family did a lot of work with the university, granting it land to build it, so there is a long history of caring for people and customers,” he says. “I think that’s part of why our Advantage Card is successful. Customers trust we’ll look after their data and present things to them both ethically and responsibly.”

The SAP centre of expertise was a function of the company’s UK department. It has been spun off into a separate IT shared services organisation that operates beyond the UK.

Boots merged with the Illinois-based Walgreens pharmacy chain in 2014. The US company had not been an SAP user in the way that Boots had been. But now they are converging their business applications landscape on SAP, with Software AG as the supplier for integration.

Clark says his expertise centre owns the SAP architecture for the group. “It’s a full lifecycle implementation model from architecture definition and roadmaps, through to production support.

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