Software innovations deliver efficiencies

TWO local companies have made recent breakthroughs in the provision and development of technology.

A software and management system from Perth-based Epic Energy is making inroads and delivering efficiencies to the mining industry, while a 1980s information product from Perth-based project management tool developer and distributor APT Systems has found its way to the Web.

Epic Energy is driving the efficiency of the mining sector by the creation of its integrated Customer Reporting System.

The essence of the system lies in using online services to maximise efficiency in Epic’s natural gas pipeline from Bunbury to Dampier.

The reporting system will make it possible for customers to deal online for spare capacity in the pipeline, enabling Epic to get maximum use out of the pipeline – by trading unused capacity – while minimising costs.

The system was built in partnership with SYDAC – an Adelaide-based software engineer – and has superseded several complicated systems, such as billing, data monitoring, capacity analysis and transaction reporting.

The innovation was a cost saving as well as efficiency measure. The only product that came close, according to Epic’s IT & T manager Keith Jeffers, was a Canadian product that cost $4 million and only performed 40 per cent of the required tasks.

While Epic didn’t comment on the development cost, it was “substantially” less than $4 million.

The Customer Reporting System has attracted both kudos and financial interest, winning an e-business category managing information strategies award.

And although Epic says it doesn’t intend to market CRS, it already has attracted the interest of industry peers, including those in the US.

According to Mr Jeffers, it’s too early to consider marketing the product, as the system will be perfected with feedback from customers – first-hand R&D support, he says.

The Customer Reporting System is live on Epic energy’s website and is used by internal staff as well as customers. Because of the data it gathers and processes, the possibilities are endless (the next stage in planning is online invoicing).

And, from the new to the renewed, it was announced recently that the technology business of Vodafone – Vodafone Information Service (VIS) – has signed a supply deal with Perth-based project management tool developer and distributor APT Systems to use its flagship product, APT methodology.

APT methodology is a system to manage the documentation and procedures in procuring and providing software to suit a client’s needs, and has been around for more than 10 years.

However, it was the 18-month old web-enabled version, iAPT, which had VIS signing on the dotted line.

The technology allows up to 200 VIS staff to access the APT methodology via Web-browser and promises efficiency and ease of use (to say nothing of speed of access) without the reams of paper manuals of the old APT system delivery.

VIS announced last year that it was interested in streamlining its IT section – spending between $100,000 and 200,000 in a bid to make itself more efficient.

Now, the contract represents

APT Systems’ biggest licence

sale of the methodology.

And the deal couldn’t have come at a better time for APT. Vodafone is shifting more resources to data and information services (which are providing increasing revenues as opposed to voice communication – the revenues from which are actually decreasing), reducing its workforce by 12 per cent in a company-wide restructure.

The sale represents what APT believes is a first step. Company director Marshall Fox says the product, because of its web-based delivery, is starting to attract attention at the large end of the project management-procurement market.

He says the appeal is that clients have no need to worry about up-to-date content, as the immediacy of the web means it can be constantly revised.

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