A clutch of half-a-dozen Kiwi developers are producing software for major corporations like BP in the niche but important market of measuring time and resource use.
The application suite, WorkTech Time/CCTS, assists primarily in containing costs by ensuring efficient use of expensive equipment; but the central data repository it establishes can be turned to a number of other areas such as human resources, accounts, time-and-motion studies and machine maintenance schedules.
Jack Hall, now chief of Boston-based WorkTech, first set foot in New Zealand when brought in to a project for the Electricity Corporation of NZ (ECNZ).
“I came here in 1993, originally to kill a deal my employers had made with ECNZ. The development had become snarled in a software problem that the parties weren’t prepared to put the effort and investment into solving.”
Hall left his company and solved ECNZ’s problem, he says, by creating a system to match invoices to the records coming from ECNZ’s Maximo asset management and maintenance system.
While in New Zealand, he engaged developers at Datacom, and when he later went to work in England for British Steel he “took them away from Datacom” and formed them into his own team, working substantially from New Zealand.
The development that grew into WorkTech Time CCTS, under Hall’s own company Work Technology Corporation, was done using the Gupta/Centura development framework, but the New Zealand-based team is now changing its technical direction to Microsoft .Net.
This will assist in migrating the product module-by-module to the web, from its former client-server orientation. Hall says, however, that .Net can work with client-server, and that client-server architecture still has a place in this application area when speed is the priority.
Much of the Centura code will be preserved, and “wrapped in COM objects” which will provide the interface to .Net. “That way, we save nearly $US1 million by code reuse.”
Work Technology is pitching for a $US700,00 to $US800,000 project at BP on the North Slope of Alaska, near Anchorage. So far $US200,000-worth of the work looks to have been securely negotiated.
The company has done work for BP at its Carson refinery in Los Angeles, and in Seattle and Texas. Discussions are in train with BP Australia.
Hall prefers New Zealand’s developers not just on cost but because they seem to be more disciplined than their counterparts in the US.
“They work no more than a 40-hour week, but they achieve as much as developers in the US would take about 60 hours to do.”