Building An ASP Solution | Article

two women looking at a buildingTerry Finn was excited. The chief financial officer of VP Buildings Inc. had just purchased six PeopleSoft financial modules to help his company manage its accounting functions with cutting edge technology. VP Buildings, a wholly owned subsidiary of The LTV Corporation, provides pre-engineered building products to the low rise commercial building industry.

Writing the check to PeopleSoft turned out to be the easy part. Within the implementation’s first 90 days the company’s database administrator left. VP Buildings searched for a new administrator but could not find one in its Memphis, Tennessee market. Finn was also worried that even if he found someone, there was no guarantee s/he would stay.

VP Buildings, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of metal buildings, was involved in other projects which tied up its internal IT department. The result: there was no one available to learn about PeopleSoft to maintain the database.

Unfortunately, Finn says the PeopleSoft database needed daily care. “We struggled to keep the database running. We clearly didn’t have the resources in-house to handle and maintain the PeopleSoft product,” Finn recalls.

An ASP Has All The Right Tools

The only stopgap solution was to hire a consultant to keep the applications running. VP Buildings hired a consultant who logged in remotely to perform the daily maintenance chores and any upgrades. This kept the database current. But there was one problem: the consultant was expensive.

Finn realized he had to find another way to provide the quality he wanted at a price he could afford. He decided the answer was to hand over the process to an Application Service Provider (ASP) who specialized in PeopleSoft applications. He turned on his computer and searched the Web for ASPs.

He was intrigued by Transchannel, an Atlanta-based ASP. He sensed it was a company that “selected clients who have struggled with PeopleSoft.” He filled out a query form and was impressed when he received a phone call two hours later.

After an initial meeting, Finn says he was impressed with the ASP’s knowledge of PeopleSoft. Executives flew to Atlanta to tour transchannel’s data center. He felt comfortable with the company; if its proposal was cost effective he was ready to sign a contract. It was.

The ASP “immediately stepped into action,” says Finn. It installed a T1 line and router to connect VP Building’s computer system to the Atlanta data center. Transchannel provides a secure, anytime, anywhere access to the applications from a Web browser.

The ASP completed the PeopleSoft implementation. It set up a help desk. Transchannel is now responsible for backup and archiving. And it provides both database and network administration.

Finn estimates he would have had to hire at least four staff members to do the work his ASP is doing. Add in the hardware maintenance costs and he figures outsourcing is saving his IP budget 25 percent a year.

Speeding Up Response Times

He enjoys the “new service philosophy” between his in-house IT department and the outsourcer. “My people give me a response time in days. Transchannel responds within hours,” he says. He attributes the ASP’s superior performance to the service level agreements written into the contract.

All the processes that received top priority are already running faster with the ASP at the helm. One process that took the company 45 minutes to run now only takes nine minutes.† Finn expects everything will run faster once the total implementation is completed. (The process began in April 2000.)

Since VP Buildings is building its business, it wanted an ASP that could grow with it. Transchannel has the scalability to meet VP Building’s five year plan.

Finn now worries about constructing buildings instead of databases. “After the pain we experienced during our initial implementation, our ASP was a breath of fresh air. Finally, we have someone who understands PeopleSoft,” he says.

Lessons from the Outsourcing Primer:

  • Using an ASP for a complicated software suite like PeopleSoft allows businesses to concentrate on their core competencies without having to learn the intricacies of the programs.
  • Businesses don’t have to worry about finding and retaining qualified PeopleSoft employees when they hire an ASP.
  • Since the ASP understands the process, it knows how to speed up transactions times.
  • Cost savings can be significant.

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