Wednesday, June 23, 2010


CA is delaying its new $2.7 million customer service system -- after working on it since 2006, and sending folks to Bangalore to consult -- because, well, it just doesn't work yet. (Remember this odd release about hand-crafted computing?)

From CA:

The Columbia Association (CA) is delaying the implementation of the new Customer Service System.

During the User Acceptance Testing phase major deficiencies in the software were discovered, primarily in financial accounting. To expedite resolution, the CA Board of Directors has approved staff’s recommendation to bring in an outside firm to assist staff with evaluating the software with regards to architecture, security and compliance with industry standards. The CA Board of Directors also approved staff’s recommendation to bring in an outside Project Manager to assist CA’s CSS development team with the final phase of the project. A new launch date is not being announced at this time.

CA will continue its efforts to encourage residents to come into CA’s Membership Service Center or our Sport and Fitness Facilities to have their pictures taken for new membership cards. CSS requires all members and residents to have new photos taken for their new cards. Those who have previously had their photos taken for CSS will not be required to have them retaken.

Here's what the Flier reported:

The new information management system, which cost CA $2.7 million and was developed by Bangalore, India-based ITC Inc., is designed to store member data and allow customers to sign up and pay for activities online.

Nelson said his decision to hire an outside firm to evaluate the software came after multiple attempts by ITC to correct the software.

“We tried to give them every opportunity to make this work. I just don’t think they have the accounting acumen.” he said. “This is a huge software project. It’s over 140,000 lines of code and they all have to fit together.”

According to Steven Sattler, CA’s director of communications and marketing, several of the software’s functions did not meet Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The outside firm’s review will serve as “reassurance” that the system is working properly.

Here's what CA says on its Web site about its due diligence of ITC:


* CA performs extensive reviews and conducts site visits and reference checks.
* ITC Infotech, a Bangalore India company, with US headquarters in New Jersey, is selected to custom-write CSS, and a contract is finalized in December with the company.
* ITC Infotech is a global IT services company that is a fully-owned subsidiary of ITC Limited, a $5 billion diversified conglomerate. ITC Limited is rated among the “World’s Most Reputable Companies” by Forbes, and among “India’s Most Valuable Companies” by Business Today. It is featured in the Leader Category for the “2008 Global Outsourcing 100” by the International Association Outsourcing Professionals, and it is “acknowledged as an excellent alternative for companies that are looking for flexibility and attention – almost like an extension of their internal IT organizations” by Forrester.

# Today, CSS has a motivated, dedicated, unyielding team behind it, and they are looking forward to successfully launching the new software system during CA's Fiscal Year 2011.

Here's a 2006 blurb in the Flier discussing the role of CA staff on the project:

CA board member Philip Marcus, of Kings Contrivance, proposed the ban on overseas contracting after two senior officials spent four months in Bangalore, India, helping a firm install the new Resident Service System customer service program.

Several CA board members became alarmed when they learned Donna Dupree, director of Communications and Marketing, and Rafia Siddiqui, vice president of Administrative Services, were in Bangalore for four months to work on the project.

CA hired New Jersey-based ITC Inc. to install the program that allows customers to pay their annual charges online and to sign up for memberships. ITC has conducted much of the work on the project at its Bangalore office.

Marcus believes a local company could have handled the contract. While many private companies are working with overseas companies, outsourcing is a more controversial issue for public and semi-public companies such as CA, he said.

Marcus is considering withdrawing his motion before the vote, he said.

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