Thursday, June 14, 2007

AMP offshore Siebel skills search


A SHORTAGE of Siebel skills has led AMP Financial Services to look offshore to complete an upgrade of a customer relationship management system used by more than 1500 financial planners and call-centre staff.

The move comes as organisations around the country, including the Australian Taxation Office and Department of Immigration and Citizenship, struggle to find sufficient numbers of technology workers with Siebel expertise. The shortage has contributed to spiralling contractor prices in Canberra and forced federal agencies to send work interstate.

It is also adding to the momentum towards offshore outsourcing in the private sector.

The company has now awarded Infosys a contract to carry out the upgrade after it decided last October to proceed with the project.

An AMP spokeswoman said plans for the project, including the decision to appoint Infosys to provide software services, were signed off by April this year and that the upgrade had commenced.

The spokeswoman said the project was being led by AMP's IT@AMP technology division and that Infosys was providing services both onshore and in India. The upgrade is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

"Most of the work is being done in Australia. Infosys is doing some work in India, mainly software development and testing," the spokeswoman said. The decision to appoint Infosys to the project and send some development and testing work offshore follows a visit to India by Ms Barnett early last year.

Infosys now boasts a number of blue-chip Australian customers, including AMP, miner Rio Tinto and Telstra. Confidentiality agreements, however, prevent Infosys and compatriots such as Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services and Satyam, from talking about most of their customers.

Infosys notes in statutory accounts for its last financial year, filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in May, that it had won a Siebel contract with "a leading Australian insurance company".

Many private sector firms are reluctant to disclose their involvement in offshore IT and business process outsourcing despite growing investment in offshore services.

Research firm Frost and Sullivan reported last month that more than a third of Australian financial services firms were on the way to embracing offshore IT and business processing outsourcing by mid-2008.

Financial services firms that have openly admitted to offshoring include the National Australia Bank, Westpac and AMP.

The growing move towards offshore outsourcing was reflected in Infosys Australia's financial accounts for the year to March 31.

Mr Ebeyan said about half of Infosys's Australian work was carried out offshore with the revenue booked through its international operations.

He said the company generated more than $200 million all up in revenue from Australian contracts during its most recent financial year.