TECHNOLOGY – Picking up the QSP pieces.

Following the collapse of QSP, the troubled UK financial software vendor, Walker Interactive and SunSystems have wasted no time in locking horns to win over its customer base.

QSP last month suffered the indignity of having its shares suspended by the London Stock Exchange, before falling victim to a slide into receivership.

But the fallout from the QSP demise is only just beginning. Many of QSP’s former UK customers, including British Airways, have been left in limbo and are likely to be deciding where to turn next.

In response to this, SunSystems was quickly spurred into action, and has launched a rescue package called QSP Assist, designed to offer these customers an easy means of migrating their software.

The company has said it will offer good value deals to QSP users, but it would not reveal the typical costs involved. The deals may be good value, but this is business after all and it is certainly not providing the service out of charity.

The SunSystems package includes migration services, technical support, tailored training and believes migration can be completed in a matter of weeks. It is also holding a seminar for QSP customers on 21 November, in London, to let them know what choices they have in terms of financial systems available.

But one question remains crucial to SunSystems and that is whether QSP customers wish to migrate at all. It has recruited a small number of former QSP sales staff to oversee the package, while others may yet join.

Meanwhile, Walker has acquired QSP’s intellectual property and certain consulting services contracts for an undisclosed amount of cash. It intends to provide customer support and consulting services to QSP’s UK customers and is in the process of drawing up a development roadmap, which should be ready in 90 days.

SunSystems’ managing director, John Gordon, launched a broadside at Walker, when he said: ‘We think there is a real danger that customers of QSP will think the only place to turn is to the company who has bought the intellectual property rights of the QSP software. There are real dangers in this strategy. We fear they will be lead down a path they may not wish to go. We can open their eyes to a range of risk-free alternatives.’

Gordon added the decision to acquire the business may have been emotional as a dozen or so former QSP staff, including former managing director Paul Lord, now work for Walker.

However, Walker managing director Roger Llewellyn, said the company had reopened the QSP support desk this week and had retained all but two of the former QSP support staff. He added: ‘There is a QSP influence here, and that stands us in good stead as we understand what we are buying.

We have not taken on the obligations of QSP but we are in the process of writing to clients telling them we will revisit these contracts and will be offering up to 25% off what they were paying QSP, without the need to migrate.

‘We intend to make this a business and are not simply here to make money out of the QSP demise.’

Walker is also looking to reinvent itself following the disappointment of its OpenSystems product not making it in the market.

It will be looking to concentrate on analytics and web-based products. It is also expected the company and QSP will be rebranding in the new year, a process which began even before the events at QSP. Ebusiness and e-collaboration are the two buzzwords doing the rounds at the company.

But one cannot help feeling that companies in the accounting software industry need to stand shoulder to shoulder in what is a tricky period.

The 220 former QSP ‘blue chip’ customers are the most important factor, and fighting among themselves won’t be of any help to them.

Walker’s website can be found at

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