Vendors shortlisted for RailCorp ICT outsourcing

IBM Australia and Fujitsu are believed to be going head to head to win a likely ICT outsourcing deal at NSW RailCorp amid moves by the rail network to rationalise its unwieldy, inefficient information environment. RailCorp -- established two and a half years ago to operate passenger rail services in metropolitan NSW -- has invited the two suppliers to move to the request for proposal (RFP) stage of a highly sensitive tender to outsource the rail system's ICT operations.

IBM Australia and Fujitsu are believed to be going head to head to win a likely ICT outsourcing deal at NSW RailCorp amid moves by the rail network to rationalise its unwieldy, inefficient information environment.

RailCorp -- established two and a half years ago to operate passenger rail services in metropolitan NSW -- has invited the two suppliers to move to the request for proposal (RFP) stage of a highly sensitive tender to outsource the rail system's ICT operations.

The short-list was made on 24 April after expressions of interest (EOI) closed on 1 March. Big Blue's services unit, IBM Global Services, was listed instead of IBM Australia at the EOI shortlist stage. Spokespeople for both IBM and Fujitsu declined to comment.

It is not clear to what extent the other vendors who responded to RailCorp's initial EOI document -- including CSC Australia, Unisys and Kaz -- were serious about trying to win the business.

A RailCorp spokesperson was unavailable to comment immediately and the organisation has failed to respond to repeated phone calls and e-mails in recent weeks. However, a spokesperson confirmed in March the rail network was "currently undertaking market testing to determine industry's ability to provide Information [and] Communications Technology (ICT) Group's service and support centre services," he said.

"Following current market testing, RailCorp may review options to more formally seek proposals from the industry."

Outsourcing is expected to affect up to 200 ICT staff who work at the rail network. Chief information officer Vicki Coleman, who has been with RailCorp for roughly 18 months, has the backing from the rail network's board to proceed with a blueprint to reform IT.

Meanwhile, RailCorp is developing an enterprise-wide content management (ECM) strategy -- including search -- to harmonise the disparate systems inherited from its predecessors, State Rail and the metropolitan functions of the Rail Infrastructure Corporation (RIC).

In tender documentation issued recently to the market, RailCorp said the merger that led to its creation on 1 January 2004 left the new body with an information environment that "lacks integration and suffers substantial inefficiencies and quality shortfalls".

RailCorp said tenders for supply of a "single, scalable ECM technology platform" had closed on 3 May, with EMC and FileNet among the respondents. A tender for supply of an enterprise search platform, which closed on the same day, had received responses from companies such as Autonomy Australia and Fast Search and Transfer Australia.

In documentation detailing the ECM strategy, RailCorp said previous separate efforts in early to mid-2003 by the RIC and State Rail to capture the electronic document management requirements for their respective organisations had never been completed.

"A decision to merge this project at a shared business services level and the subsequent RailCorp merger put this requirement on hold," the organisation said.

This meant RailCorp faced a litany of difficulties, including unavailability of relevant, reliable information to business process owners, distribution of the information that is available across many Web sites and repositories, duplication of information and stretching of ICT support across "an excessive number of applications and technologies".

In addition, "various information management-related projects are working in isolation from each other towards goals that may not be aligned," it said.

The ECM strategy would see the "deployment of common information management policy and standards and common ECM and enterprise search technology across key information categories within a two-to-three year timeframe".

"All or most of RailCorp's controlled documents, corporate records, engineering drawings and Web content are within the scope of this strategy," it said.

It said ECM would be implemented within a broader technology architecture which included enterprise portal, workflow and identity management components.

"These technologies are pre-existing within RailCorp, however, they are yet to be implemented as a single integrated stack."

RailCorp said the ECM works program would take around three years and encompass EDMS for all electronic document classes; engineering document and drawing management services for all engineering CAD drawings and asset-related technical documents; records management services for all physical and electronic records and workflow services for all controlled documents, Web site content and engineering drawings.

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