The highest authority for Quebec’s notaries is preparing for the first time to offer its practice management software over the Web.

Montreal-based Corporation informatique des services notariaux (CISN) Thursday said it had chosen Allstream

(formerly AT&T Canada) to create, manage and support the Web-hosted service, which will be available Jan. 1, 2004. The not-for-profit organization, which was created by the Quebec Chamber of Commerce, will be selling a suite of software tools for managing client files, billing and accounting, as well as ExAct, which allows users to register online deeds with the provincial government.

CISN notary Francois Forget said the Web-hosted solution will mean a transition from its traditional client/server approach.

“”I think it’s the cheapest (option) for the user,”” he said. “”I have a server with Oracle on my system; all notaries have that. And when we have to do an upgrade it’s very expensive. Now there’s only one big server.””

Sylvain St-Pierre, vice-president of consulting services with Allstream’s IT services division (formerly Montage-DMC), said Allstream proposed a hosted solution because it reduces the complexity of support engagement and there is only one infrastructure to maintain. This allows the company to improve service levels, he said.

The CISN project shares a similar architecture to some of the company’s other clients, but the scope of the relationship is wider. Usually Allstream would merely provide the technical infrastructure. In this case, according to St-Pierre, Allstream is essentially running a small business on the client’s behalf.

“”It played well to their strengths,”” he said. “”We’re really trying to be flexible and nimble with our customers and that’s one way we’re able to demonstrate it.””

Forget said CISN, which previously worked with Cognicase before it was taken over by CGI Group, began looking for a partner that was willing to share the management load.

“”It’s a different mentality. CGI, they want to do business with you, but they don’t want to be a partner with you,”” he said. “”They want to do development, but they didn’t want to take care of the marketing and the instruction.””

As part of the five-year contract, Allstream will also manage a call centre for CISN, although St-Pierre said feedback at a recent conference of notaries indicated most of the 1,300 client base will opt for the Web.

“”If you run a smaller business — 10, 15, 20 or 30 people — you might not want to be bothered with managing an IT infrastructure,”” he said. “”The real constraint is whether there’s high-speed available at some of these (offices).””

Forget said CISN chose Allstream in part for its Oracle expertise (it is the first Canadian company to receive the Certified E-Business Advantage Partner designation) and the security capabilities of its Montreal Solution Centre.


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