IAG NZ CIO Catherine Rusby acknowledges there are “issues” with the implementation of the merged Endeavour insurance system, but says the criticisms of it relayed in Computerworld reflect an unjustified negative slant “at the expense of people who are working hard to get a very great outcome”.
A consultant from Melbourne, Christopher Jones, has been brought in for a few weeks “to work alongside us”, says Rusby, but she denies that he is taking control of the project, as industry sources suggest.
“He is here to tackle some issues and put some solutions in place. He will be here for a few weeks and then he’ll be gone.”
Rusby says she is “not ready” to discuss the budget for the project or any details of its implementation that might reflect on its costs. The kind of information that can be released is limited by IAG’s duties to the Australian Stock Exchange, where it is listed, she says.
“But I will say this; our burn rate [the rate at which the development is consuming funds] is nothing like the $1 million a month that has been suggested.”
Rusby confirms that parts of the system have been developed initially in Visual Basic, which insurance industry sources label an outdated platform for the purpose. Only later will those parts of the system be converted progressively to .Net. other parts are being written for .Net from the beginning.
The VB orientation was inherited from the Sirius software on which Endeavour is partly based.
“The next evolution of the product is .Net and some newer components are now being written on that platform,” Rusby says.
“We’re also not aware of any insurance applications in the market that are fully implementable in J2EE and .Net that would satisfy our business needs. There certainly wasn’t anything around two-and-a-half years ago when we selected Sirius.”
The first parts of the system, to be implemented by the latest last-quarter revised deadline, will benefit only former State Insurance customers, Rusby confirms.
Ex-NZI users will have to wait a while longer, “but not substantially longer”, she says. Once the consumer system is in place for State accounts, supporting NZI users is a matter of putting a suitable NZI-like front end on it, a relatively minor task, she says.