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Girl power

Girl power

At this point Hogan squares her shoulders and offers a cheerful smile. “It was fanastic," she says. “And it was done by an all-female team. It was really good, it was excellent." That's girl power for you. Actually, it was all about talent and good leadership.

Phase two of the project involved the rollout of management reporting tools. The service's 220 managers spread around the country now have access to financial functions they didn't have before.

Hogan, who is speaking to me during the huge Quest convention for JD Edwards users in Denver, Colorado, says the vendor choice came down to a number of significant factors. The biggest elements were the need for a total integrated solution and — because it was going to be such a major undertaking — a desire to have a true partnership with their vendor. The latter, says Hogan, was an essential prerequisite. “We didn't want a supplier relationship — we had to have a business partner. JD Edwards seemed to be the one with most of the components we wanted, and its software was the most compatible."

Well, yes, but what about the ROI, the cost per seat? “I wasn't involved in the selection process but I do know we were always looking for value for money, not necessarily the cheapest," says Hogan. “One big thing for me and my managers was that the asset side was very strong, and that was where we needed to put the most investment — managing our assets and resources. And we had to have someone from the vendor side to work through all the problems with us. That someone had to be there as part of the team."

As it happened, that person was a woman, Hogan says with a smile. “We were all part of the project team. We were all working towards the same goal."

Beyond Hogan and others involved in the project, her chief financial officer was the main driver for the upgraded computing environment. The need for change was obvious enough — the old financial system was based on 10-year-old Ugen software, a DOS original. It had served nobly but was obviously near the end of its useful life. “It was very old technology and it wasn't integrated — and we had a separate asset system that could get out of sync … things like that," says Hogan. “When they started looking at the money system they realised they would have to upgrade other areas. For instance, we have a huge fleet base and a big property portfolio."

Inevitably, the lack of cohesion throughout the service had meant the usual profusion of disparate databases, with significant amounts of information held in different places around the country. In some cases, the same information was being entered separately into different databases. In a situation such as this, accurate business intelligence and knowledge management were difficult, if not impossible.

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