Logistics firm searches for central IT plan

A logistics provider for the energy business in Atlantic Canada has outsourced its own IT to Xwave.

The $5 million, five-year contract will see St. John’s, Nfld.-based Asco Canada

refresh the technology infrastructure in its seven offices on the East Coast.

Asco is now settled into a Windows environment with XP on the desktops. “”We consolidated their Exchange environments and brought that into our data centre as well and rolled out a Microsoft standard across their various locations,”” says Xwave account manager Dave Finn. Xwave will also host SSX, Asco’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) application of choice, in its data centre.

The initial problem for Asco was that its technology didn’t adhere to any central plan, according to Finn. Lack of IT cohesion — particularly when technology is spread across several field offices — is not unusual for businesses the size of Asco. “”These guys had the classic situation,”” he says. “”They had no centralized management, they had three or four part-time IT staffers supporting their environment. Systems were always breaking down. They had no remote support whatsoever.””

“”If you’ve grown yourself into a corner, so to speak . . . maybe you can continue that way,”” says IDC Canada Ltd. analyst Jason Bremner, “”But if you think that’s not necessarily what you need for the long term, having the input of an infrastructure manager, it would probably be very advantageous for you. . . . Certainly I think there are numerous cases where that is a factor in deciding to outsource.””

Turning over a fractured IT shop to an outsourcer won’t produce results overnight, cautions Bremner, but “”they may be able to springboard into some of the activities they want to do.””

The first stage of the Asco upgrade is now complete. Xwave personnel are still working in Asco offices help the company move onto the next stage: establishing a common folder environment to cut back on the amount of documents that are e-mailed between offices.

“”The folders will be set up according to the unique business units,”” explains Asco vice-president of operations Fabian Walsh. “”For example, there will be a common folder for operations right across Atlantic Canada . . . a common folder for logisitics, for HR, our business development, our sales. Those will be subdivided down into different categories within each of those areas.””

As part of the contract, Xwave will be training Asco’s employees on how to access those folders, and even on basic information like how to use Windows applications. A refresher course always helps, says Finn. “”One of the issues, of course, even for Office and Excel and whatnot, is that these guys stand to benefit in terms of productivity gains just by learning basic technology — Windows train

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