British Gas Trading (BGT) is suing systems supplier SCT International for more than #10 million after the alleged failure of billing software.
BGT claims SCT's customisation of software failed to deliver a working system, adding that it has been forced to maintain two separate billing systems.
A BGT spokesman said SCT was supposed to tailor the Banner Customer Information System (BCIS) package to meet "unique billing procedures and processes". BGT is claiming damages for installation and costs for running existing billing systems. BCIS has been installed at North West Water and 80 US sites.
SCT UK managing director Susan Sheridan said the company had successfully undertaken customisation for other utilities and would vigorously defend the action.
BCIS is not the only major customisation project to end in tears. Lloyds TSB Trust Managers was recently forced to pay #1.5 million in compensation and fines after customisation of legacy software led to trust administration failures.
Both cases are believed to have been complicated by attempts to graft new software onto legacy systems. One consultant, who worked with BGT, said that some utility billing systems are up to 15 years old.
These systems, usually mainframe based, have typically had software added during their lifetime, making them harder to change later on, said the consultant.
Complicated systems integration work is the biggest obstacle to such projects, particularly as many utilities have tried to fuse old billing systems with newer applications such as call centres, he added.
This is the second time BGT has hit problems with billing software. In 1995, a #150 million system for residential customers sent out incorrect bills.
For further stories, see 11 February issue of 'Computing'
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