EDS Canada fast tracks into Quebec

After maintaining a significant Canadian presence for years, EDS Canada, a subsidiary of giant Texas-based IT services firm Electronic Data Systems, has recently ramped up its Quebec operations in search of fresh outsourcing opportunities.

In uncertain economic times, many manufacturers – often the first to feel the pinch – will look for another company to manage the IT work that falls outside their core business, said Pierre Fitzgerald, EDS Canada’s executive vice-president for Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

“I see rising concern from these organizations about their IT costs and this is creating outsourcing opportunities in Quebec. On the production side we are doing more implementation, but I also see integration being key for manufacturing accounts in terms of back office applications,” said the Quebec City-based Fitzgerald.

Since EDS handles all of General Motors’ worldwide IT operations – including the soon-to-close plant in Ste. Therese, Que. – the company has developed some very useful human capital, Fitzgerald said.

“We have people from Quebec who monitored and developed and maintained all the IT and engineering systems in this plant, and we will continue to leverage our expertise from Ste. Therese. The plant will be shutting down in September of next year, so EDS and GM have a transition plan to support the IT requirements in Ste. Therese right up until the last moment – we will be there until the last Camaro goes out.”

The good news is that with the incoming opportunities in the manufacturing environment in Quebec these people and these skills (from GM) will be available, and EDS will make sure that they are offered to their customers.

For manufacturing clients, the opportunity to offload sophisticated software rollouts is another benefit, Fitzgerald said.

“Many of these firms are looking at outsourcing entirely, or at selective outsourcing for some of their applications. But the range of solutions could be wide in terms of implementing an ERP solution, as we do for Rolls-Royce, for example. Rolls-Royce is an SAP account and we are providing the full SAP integration and the outsourcing in the plant they have in Dorval Quebec.”

Fitzgerald also encourages manufacturers to consider outsourcing in areas that are related to IT, but fall outside the sector’s traditional umbrella.

“Some large corporations have shown interest in the type of deal [EDS Canada] has done this summer with CIBC where we outsource their entire HR function. It’s not only doing the IT portion of HR, it’s really taking over all of the different responsibilities in terms of employee benefits and compensation, managing the HR help desk – so when employees ask questions about their pension fund, we answer to them.”

Given the presence of other big French-language players such as CGI and IBM-LGS, the outsourcing market in Quebec is becoming very competitive, Fitzgerald acknowledged. Although the bottom-line will be a factor for organizations looking to contract out IT work, he said there are other factors for them to consider.

“Customers are looking for a combination of global reach and specific expertise,” he said, “and when dealing with large manufacturers, it’s really more a question of value-add than price.”