MDS Inc. plans to standardize its applications in HR, supply chain management, contract management and other key areas using Oracle’s E-Business Suite and IBM services.

The $27-million contract is an extension of the $265-million outsourcing agreement the life sciences company reached with IBM

Canada Ltd. in September to manage its hardware infrastructure. The technology behind MDS and its six subsidiaries is being rebuilt from the ground up.

“”They had too many disparate systems that didn’t allow them to take advantage of economies of scale, share information between the companies,”” said Sal Causi, business development executive with IBM’s life sciences division. “”The flow of information was just very difficult for the parent company to understand what was going on at any one point in time.””

The groundwork in place on the hardware side has allowed MDS to take a closer look at its applications and give them a similar treatment, said Alan Torrie, MDS’s executive vice-president of global markets and technology.

“”The Oracle software allows us to create commonality across all of our businesses in all of those key areas around our financial processes and business processes,”” he said. “”We’ll be able to now have that all on one system, which will certainly speed up our ability to understand and take action on our information.””

All of MDS’s operations across the world will be reorganized to meet these goals, starting with its offices in Canada and the U.S. “”Once that’s up and running, we’ll be running within the context of a shared service organization,”” added Torrie. “”We’ve hired David Poirier . . . to manage the service, of which this will be a part.””

Poirier, who joined MDS in recent weeks as the company’s CIO and president of shared services, has experience in handling company-wide IT overhauls. Three years ago, as CIO for Hudson’s Bay Corp., he orchestrated a technology transformation through IBM Canada, Oracle Canada and Microsoft Canada.

Torrie said MDS has kept its suppliers and customers in the loop during its own transformation and will continue to do so as it consolidates applications across the organization.

“”A lot of them are used to this, because we’re not the first business in the world to go through this,”” he said. “”As a matter of fact, as companies get to certain sizes, we find they expect this and they’re good at being able to deal with that.””

Torrie also said by moving to centralized platforms, MDS is better prepared to meet upcoming privacy legislation such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada and Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the U.S.

“”This provides us with even better ability to meet the new standards because we have everything on one system. It’s very auditable, it’s trackable, and it’s not as complex. It actually simplifies a lot of the procedures you’d want to have the ability to investigate or track,”” he said.

More changes may be in store for MDS next year. Oracle executives said it will cooperate with IBM on further extensions.

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