Cedardata plc

Career Information
Biography Experience Education Awards
[ Experience | Validus Holdings | Greene King | Element Six
Chubb International | Chubb Europe | Cedardata ]


Cedardata (now called Advanced Business Solutions; previously COA Solutions, CedarOpenAccounts and CedAR) is a UK-based software development, implementation and consulting company with operations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. In 1996, its primary product was the Commercial and Financial Accounting System (cfacs), which had an installed base of around 300 clients.
Positions held

Nov 95 – Aug 96 Assistant to the MD and Client / Server Systems Manager
Dec 94 – Oct 95 Assistant to the MD
May 94 – Nov 94 Development Manager
Sep 92 – Apr 94 Development Manager (Commercial Systems)
Oct 90 – Aug 92 Team Leader (Commercial Systems)
Sep 89 – Sep 90 Team Leader (Financial Systems)
Sep 88 – Aug 89 Analyst / Programmer (Financial Systems)


At time of leaving, responsible for a development team of 10 people with two direct reports. Reported to the Managing Director.
Major achievement – Shepherding cfacs from a character-based to a graphical user interface

cfacs screens were originally developed in the character-based SQL*Forms tool. As competitors began to offer GUI applications, this began to impact the acquisition of new business. Also the existing client base began to demand a GUI version of the product. Given this, retention of clients would also begin to become a problem in the near-term. A Cedardata development manager was tasked with moving our product to Oracle Forms (the GUI successor to SQL*Forms), but there was no easy conversion path even for basic screens and more complicated screens needed to be completely rethought for the new environment.

Unfortunately, over a 12-month period, a lot of research was done, but no progress was made with actually building the new product. At this point, the board asked me to take over the failing project.

I performed triage on the cfacs screens, dividing them into: ones that could be converted using a third-party tool; ones that could be re-written quickly in Oracle Forms; and the key screens which needed to have a lot of thought put into them and where consultation with existing users would be beneficial. I re-energised the somewhat demoralised development team and gave them clear goals and timeframes for work. I established monitoring and estimating mechanisms which were shared with the development team and the board on a regular basis so that there were no more nasty surprises. I introduced a formal QA process and pulled in key users to evaluate prototypes to make sure that we were meeting their needs.

I was approached to work for Chubb three months into this project, but as a result of the measures that I had taken, the entire cfacs product was converted before I had worked out my three-month notice period and Cedardata again had a viable product to sell.
Other achievements

One of two principals charged with running a three-month, on-site comparison of cfacs with Oracle Financials at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, resulting in a multi-million pound account being secured.
Established and ran the company’s User Group, including managing semi-annual conferences.
Major development / implementation projects for: Allied Mills, BOC, BP Chemicals, Bristol Water, Cellnet, Churchill Insurance, Cranfield University, Energis, Essex County Council, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Inmarsat, Kuwait Petroleum, NEC, Orange, SAPPI and the UK AEA.
Partnered with organisations such as: – Andersen Consulting, BusinessObjects, CAP Gemini, Coopers and Lybrand, EASAMS, Kværner, Oracle and Price Waterhouse.


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