VONS OUTSOURCES MIS FUNCTIONS

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Vons Cos. here is turning to an outsourcing services company to gain immediate cost savings and clear a path to an open, client-server systems architecture in the year ahead.Vons turned over management of its information technology to SHL Systemhouse, Ottawa, as part of a 10-year contract that took effect last month. Both parties declined to reveal financial terms of the agreement."First

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Vons Cos. here is turning to an outsourcing services company to gain immediate cost savings and clear a path to an open, client-server systems architecture in the year ahead.

Vons turned over management of its information technology to SHL Systemhouse, Ottawa, as part of a 10-year contract that took effect last month. Both parties declined to reveal financial terms of the agreement.

"First of all, it's a cost-cutting move," Barry Boone, Vons' vice president of management information systems, told SN. "And it offers strategic opportunities for the future," namely, the company's migration to a client-server environment.

Client-server technology allows some information processing tasks to be transferred to the end-user, rather than the centralized applications processing of a traditional mainframe system.

Boone declined to elaborate on Vons' client-server plans but indicated a strategy would be developed with SHL next year, after the company assumed full operational management of Vons' mainframe system.

SHL, which acquired Vons' information systems hardware and added the chain's 123 MIS staff to its payroll, reportedly will provide network management, end-user support and application maintenance and development projects.

The firm has begun relocating Vons' mainframe computer equipment and some peripherals from the chain's headquarters here to SHL's Buena Park office located about 20 miles away.

Boone told SN that Vons' decision to outsource its technology functions lays the groundwork for more efficient technology operations in the years ahead.

"SHL's 'transformational' outsourcing approach uniquely responds to our needs," he said. "We can remain focused on our core business while reducing cost and applying leading-edge technology throughout the operations to enhance our competitive position in the marketplace."