A managed service company that works closely with the City of Windsor, Ont., says it is three weeks ahead of schedule on the first ever systems upgrade of its customer information system.

Enwin Utilities, which also provides

billing, credit and help desk support for Enwin Powerlines, Windsor Utilities Commission and the MaXess Network, said it was working with Sun Microsystems of Canada’s products to run a customer-facing PeopleSoft application. The company has bought a group of SunFire V880, V440 and V240 servers running Solaris for the Customer Information System (CIS).

Enwin director of information services and technology Marvin Routliffe said the company decided it was time to change platforms last year when it was in the midst of upgrading to PeopleSoft 8.8. Its current infrastructure, based on legacy equipment from Data General, wouldn’t support newer versions of Oracle and the company wanted to invest in something that would last another three to five years.

Sun won out in the RFP process, Routliffe said, because it had the kind of references and training capabilities that will minimize the transition between platforms. Enwin has purchased a Sun Corporate Learning Pass, which will see staff take courses on Sun products, as well as onsite “”Unix Essentials”” training for about 20 employees.

“”I had a very good comfort level them,”” he said. “”It was a relationship that reminded me of the one we had with our current vendor, who we had been with since 1985.””

Bonnie Kooistra, a local Sun rep who is working with Enwin on the project, said Sun emphasized its relationships with other utilities and provided customer references with other Windsor-area businesses to give Enwin the assurances it needed.

“”They didn’t want this to be a decision they were going to have to change in three years,”” she said.

Besides IT staff, Routliffe said the project team includes representatives from its call centre operation, internal corporate trainers and various subject matter experts who would use the CIS. The original PeopleSoft CIS was implemented by SLP Workgroup, and Routliffe said Enwin has contracted it to assist with the project as well.

“”It will be more of a mentoring role this time around,”” he said. “”The knowledge transfer there is very important, because even though PeopleSoft licenses the product, SPL owns the code and built the system on PeopleSoft’s behalf.””

Nick Weston, manager of Energy Industries at Sun in California, said companies like Enwin can go through a difficult transition as their industry becomes privatized.

“”It’s a big shock to many of them that IT now becomes a competitive weapon, as opposed to a tool that sits in a back room somewhere,”” he said. “”They don’t have the training necessary to use it that way.””

Enwin hopes to see a reduction in call wait times as well as further squeeze the time it takes for billing, which right now happens between 8:00 p.m. and approximately 2:00 a.m. “”We also do a lot of online transaction processing — cash payments, cancel/rebill scenarios,”” Routliffe said.

Routliffe said Enwin hopes to have the project complete and the CIS running on its Sun infrastructure by Thanksgiving.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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