It started with MAAX Corp., a Ste-Marie, Que.-based maker of bathroom fixtures and spas, looking for some outside help to enhance the content management system it uses to produce catalogues and brochures for retailers. It grew into a deal for Fusepoint Managed Services Inc. to develop, host and manage all of MAAX’s electronic sales tools.

MAAX, which has 24 plants and independent distribution centres across North America and employs about 2,900 people, initially chose Toronto-based Fusepoint to help enhance its content management system, says Yvan Lachance, corporate graphic design director at MAAX. That work began this past summer and is still under way. But what MAAX really wanted was a complete package.

Now Fusepoint will be helping expand the company’s Web site, which will interact with the content management system, and will be hosting that Web site and the online communication tools that retailers and MAAX employees can use to obtain price and other information about MAAX’s products.

“It’s easier and preferable for us to work with a company that can provide us all the services,” Lachance said. He said MAAX chose Fusepoint because it had the expertise to do everything his company wanted, and also because it had an established presence in Quebec. Fusepoint has data centres and offices in both Montreal and Quebec City, as well as in Toronto and Vancouver.

Even though MAAX has an internal IT department, which has implemented SAP AG enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for the firm, but the skills needed to develop the electronic commerce functions are quite different and the communications department felt it made more sense to rely on an outside provider than to set out to build the necessary pool of expertise in-house.

And that also means Fusepoint will be there to help expand the capabilities further, says Claude Jacques, a Quebec-based account director at the managed services provider. “this solution will grow in the future, and they will need expertise to achieve their goals,” Jacques said.

According Jacques, MAAX first approached Fusepoint about help with application development, but then the two companies started talking about hosting and that led to a contract for end-to-end services.

Such end-to-end contracts, involving a mix of application development, hosting and management, are a growth area for Fusepoint in Quebec and elsewhere, Jacques added. “This kind of deal is the type of deal we try to increase for the future.” That’s because it means a lasting partnership and ongoing business for Fusepoint. “It’s not a short-term contract. It’s a long-term contract.”

Fusepoint will provide the technical expertise but will collaborate with the marketing and graphic design staff at MAAX, in what Lachance calls a team effort. Fusepoint is to manage server system hardware, the operating system and licences, patch management, security devices and 24 hours a day, seven days a week monitoring.

Fusepoint is doing the development work using Microsoft Corp.’s Visual Studio .NET suite. Jacques says his company uses both .NET and Java development tools in different contexts, but .NET was chosen for the MAAX contract because MAAX is a Microsoft shop.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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