Superpartners is in negotiations with the provider of its new administration platform, Synchronised Software, which are expected to result in the administrator taking greater control of the platform’s further development, while the revelation that Superpartners is also seeking a ‘tier one’ systems integrator to help it complete the project have placed a question mark over the future involvement of India-based Tata Consulting Services.

A source within one of the industry funds which own Superpartners said the negotiations may change the nature of Synchronised Software’s consideration for the project, from a fee-per-member payable from whenever the new system (dubbed electSP) goes live, to an upfront licence fee plus an annual fee for ongoing maintenance.

The talks with Syncsoft come at a sensitive time for Superpartners, which had pledged to have electSP running for Cbus by June 2009, and also faces a blowout of the initial $70 million budget for the new system. The administrator is understood to have promised $20 million of fee rebates to its industry fund investor-clients in 2010, however it is unknown if it will still be able to honour that commitment.

It is understood Superpartners will continue to access upgrades of SyncSoft’s Capital X, the core of the electSP system, which will release a Version 2.0 early next year that is faster, and has integrated regression testing which, according to SyncSoft managing director Rory Wainer, reduces the need to employ software testers upon its installation.

Wainer would not comment on negotiations with Superpartners, but said industry talk that SyncSoft had sold Superpartners the CapitalX source code was a furphy, because the software vendor routinely allowed all of its clients access to source code, and he suspected it was common practice among his competitors in super administration.

“The organisations we do business with are so large, and so dependent on the product, that we know better than to play ‘funny buggers’ with the source code,” Wainer said, noting that licence agreements could be structured such that clients got flexibility to adapt their systems, while SyncSoft’s intellectual property was protected.

Wainer said it was always expected that Superpartners would eventually take more direct control of its administration system and the creation of additional code, however he expected a handul of Syncsoft staff to remain on hand at Superpartners to maintain the core system.

For its part, Superpartners said: “Due to the large scale and complexity of the project, we have undertaken regular assessments. Currently we are in the process of determining changes to how we deliver and implement the electSP solution and assessing the full implications. At this stage we have progressed to a position where we have the core of the new system completed. Significant IT and business assets have been created to date and SyncSoft have delivered a strong core base platform on which we can build. Superpartners is now looking to build on these assets and this will result in an optimisation of the relationship with SyncSoft. Superpartners is, therefore, in the process of assessing a potential tier one partner to assist in completing the project.”

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