Alberta Accounting group becomes Microsoft shop

Staff at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta will log in to a much different IT environment next week, following a migration of its legacy system from Novell to Microsoft products.

The self-governing professional

body, which represents 811 offices in more than 100 cities and towns across the province, said Monday it had contracted Fujitsu Consulting (formerly DMR) to handle the project. Once it is complete, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta (ICAA) will be running Windows 2000 for the server environment, Windows XP Pro for the workstations, while moving applications to VB.Net and SQL Server for its database engine.

Wayne Kauffman, the ICAA’s associate executive director, said the project should help the organization respond to the province’s 2001 Regulated Accounting Profession Act, which required it to handle new data sets that didn’t integrate well with its existing platform.

“”We’re fine on how our database looks, but the engine that drives it all and the technology behind it needed to be upgraded,”” he said, adding the ICAA abandoned the idea of an off-the-shelf solution after visiting counterpart organizations in British Columbia and Quebec. “”We decided we’re much better off to upgrade our current system and migrate to better technology.””

Right now, the Institute is running under Novell Network and Groupwise for e-mail, said Mark Ethier, a Fujsitsu project manager who will be working with the ICAA.

“”We’ve taken a strategy to migrate some of the SQL Windows code to VB.Net but there will still pre-exist some SQL/Windows code,”” he said. “”The current business is supported fairly well by the current application. It’s just that support becomes an issue when you need to make some changes.””

Though much of the application migration will be invisible to the ICAA’s front-line staff, some training has already been conducted to prepare them for Microsoft Office instead of Corel’s WordPerfect and Outlook instead of Groupwise. Kauffman said user concerns were key to his purchasing decision.

“”We did look at cost,”” he said, “”Not only in terms of dollars but in the wear and tear on the people here — Which would be the less painful to move over?””

The ICAA also uses an ad-hoc tool called Quest that will be replaced by Brio, because the Quest tool will not use SQL Server, Ethier said. The bulk of the application work is scheduled to be complete by May of next year.

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