Stateways Sept-Oct 2011

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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WHEN IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE Several control state agencies are updating their information technology. By Cheryl Ursin T hings get old. They just do. And when they do, it becomes time to face the daunting pro- ject of looking at what you've got and at what's involved (the time! the money!) to update them. The Vermont Department of Liquor Control (DLC) is facing that exact situation. Its plan, to replace both its current enterprise resource planning (ERP) and point-of-sale (POS) systems, "is the largest project we have ever attempted," according to Mike Hogan, com- missioner. Why do it? "The system in the central office is coming on 30 years; it dates from '83," said Frank Perricone, information technology (IT) manager for the DLC. Developed, like the point-of-sale system, in- house, the central office system "uses old hardware and old software," Perricone continued. "It's written in COBOL and uses a UNIX operating system. It's hard to maintain. We can't get hardware for it anymore and it is hard to write and maintain software for it." Meanwhile, the POS system is almost 20 years old and uses phone lines to process credit-card transactions. The entire system was built by the DLC, which continued to constantly improve it over the years, to meet its specific needs. "It was a cleverly designed sys- tem but it uses obsolete technology," said Perricone. "And to replace any part of it at all now, we have to replace the whole thing." The Vermont Legislature has appropriated money for the project and the DLC is in the process of signing a contract with a vendor. This makes the DLC one of several control state agencies who are either thinking about, in the process of making, or have just made major changes to their IT systems. Speeding up Progress I 40 n Virginia, for example, all 333 state stores run by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) are now using a brand-new, state-of-the-art POS system. The system was rolled out to all the stores in record time, just under three months, according to the DABC. The last time the DABC replaced its POS system, nine years ago, "the roll-out took eight or nine months," said Steve Fox, the DABC's director of IT. While the current roll-out took less than three months, it took the DABC, working in partnership with its computer company, 18 months to develop the system to its specifications. "We wanted more functionality. We added touch screen panels and made the interfaces a little more friendly," said Fox, "but the biggest thing we needed was a system that allowed us to remain PCI-compliant." (PCI, short for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, is the set of security standards all organiza- tions handling credit and debit cardholder information must meet.) "With the ever-changing and fast-paced world of retail technology and the constant update to these [PCI] standards, [the] ABC is, and will be, continuously reeval- uating and updating its systems," Fox said. The new upgrade replaced all the hardware and all the software in the 333 Virginia state stores and cost between $10 and $11 million. The new POS system allows store staff to scan dri- StateWays s s September/October 2011

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