Optimation scales back on utilities billing project

'We are just taking a pause,' says director

Optimation’s Equip utilities billing software development has been put on hold, according to an industry source. The project was given a grant of $1.8 million from the Foundation of Research, Science and Technology in June, but now “the application is dead”, says the source. As a result contractors have been laid off and permanent staff redeployed.

The project is supposed to deliver a next-generation software suite for the energy sector, to support handling large-scale smart billing.

Optimation utilities group director Alistair Owens says that the project has “slowed down” and, as a result, staff has been redeployed, but that this is a natural dip in the project.

“We have not closed down the Equip project,” he says. “We have come to some milestones in the project and completed those, and we are coming [up] to the Christmas period, so there are some natural factors [for a slow down] there.”

“We are just taking a pause and we have scaled back a wee bit,” he says. “There is nothing apocalyptic in it.”

“We have invested a lot of money in this project, very quickly, and we are wary of continuing at that pace,” he says.

Owens says that a lot of the staff and contractors involved in the project are highly skilled and sought-after. Some have come off employment contracts and gone on to contractor rates and “now they are getting poached by competitors”, he says.

“There is a bit of churn amongst the employees at the moment,” he says.

Optimation received the 2006 Technology Commendation Award from FRST for its work developing the Equip technology for automatically billing customers in the international non-telco utilities market.

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