Canadian National Railway: Customer Reference Video

Canadian National Railway Co. is a leader in the North American rail industry. See how this industry leader is leveraging SAP Custom Development to redesign its core efficiencies, set industry standards, become more competitive in the global marketplace, and build a highly effective team.

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    • CN is best known as leading Class I railway in North America. We have a network that spans all of Canada and the United States. We also have a CN worldwide group of companies that are European – well, one is based in Rotterdam, in Europe – with offices in South America and China as well. A number of factors have led us to partnering with SAP Custom Development. We have been using SAP for 10 years now. We've been highly successful at leveraging the SAP ERP enterprise resource planning solutions, for managing all of our, if you like, back office, our enterprise asset management. We've leveraged SAP ERP for managing financial, material, human, mobile, and fixed assets in what has to date become the largest footprint of SAP in any railway in the world. So we've had a lot of success and a great track record with SAP. When it came time to taking a look at the five- to 10-year road map ahead of us and rebuilding our core rail operational systems, we then turned to SAP this time not as a vendor of application solution, but rather as an application development partner. We thought, is there an opportunity that we could leverage SAP's core competencies at application development, building on their SAP NetWeaver technology solutions and their proven methodologies for application development, and actually rely on them to build, according to our requirements and our specifications, a set of, hopefully, industry-standard solutions for rail operations that would over the period of the next five or 10 years enable CN to replace its legacy, mainframe-based, rail operational technologies and perhaps in the process build a set of solutions that could be standardized across the industry and, in effect, hopefully move the entire North American rail industry forward in its efficiency. Another advantage is partnering with SAP as a professional SAP as a professional software development organization, as opposed to building solutions ourselves, is that SAP and SAP Custom Development are in the business of building configurable commercial software. So we believe that one of the advantages is that the end product will be something that is now only configurable and supportive of CN's business processes, but then solutions will have potential for resale to other railways around the world, particularly in North America. And as these solutions if they drive the kind of value for the railways that we expect them to drive for us, that will improve overall the efficiency of the North American rail industry. That, in turn, makes us more competitive in the global transportation marketplace and effectively is a win-win for CN as well. One of the reasons we engaged with SAP Custom Development is building on what has been a trusted relationship over the past 10 years. Stepping into the development of core operational systems for our rail operations is clearly a very sensitive and challenging environment. So we've had to build a lot on the trusted relationships and partnerships we built to date, but we have seen some extremely talented people from SAP Custom Development join the team, a number of them with deep experience in the transportation space which has helped greatly in kind of building a team moving forward. It's very challenging to at the same time you're building the solutions and your developing software, we're also defining the foundation architecture for how all of these solutions will come together. So you've got application development and architecture tryin
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