Player Roster: Service Corp.

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-01-13 Print this article Print

New Jersey funeral home director and a Vancouver, Canada, cemetery manager take on the overhaul.

Elisabeth Nash
Vice President, Continuous Process Improvement
Nash was hired away from Pennzoil in 2002 to lead Delta Project, a two-year plan to revamp Service Corp.'s software systems and change work habits of its 20,000 employees. She doesn't mind night and weekend work as long as Diet Coke is available. A sense of humor helps as she drives the Delta team hard. Members reported working until after 1 a.m. one Sunday morning to meet a deadline.


John Del Mixon
Managing Director, Information Technology
Oversees technical aspects of Delta Project. Supervises Service Corp. technologists as well as developers from India's Infosys Technologies and software vendor HMIS. He says the decision to replace homegrown software with a package was overdue: "We put so much money into these [old] systems and it doesn't help you in the consumer's eyes."

Mike Webb
Executive VP, Operations
Persuaded senior managers in funeral, cemetery, trust accounting, marketing and other groups to let some of their best people devote themselves full time to the project. When the team needed two extra people to enter data from cabinets full of paper cemetery records, Webb found them.

Lisa Wolfsen
Operations Team Member, Houston
A former funeral director in New Jersey, she is one of 20 field experts transferred out of their regular jobs and set up in Houston to help the Delta Project team design and test software. Though she had no guarantee of a job after completion of the project, Wolfsen says. "If you work to the hardest extreme you can, and you put your best effort in, good things will come."

Blair Wallin
Market Coordinator for Accounting Review, Vancouver
Like Wolfsen, relocated to Houston. His motivation: to imprint system design with his views and those of other cemetery managers, whose opinions, he says, were overlooked in past projects. Wallin returned to Vancouver in October with a promotion, and is managing an effort to move cemetery contracts online.

Marty Ball
Location Manager
Whalen & Ball Funeral Home, Yonkers, N.Y.
Like other long-timers in the field, he prefers that clients never see his computer, considering the machine too impersonal in a very personal business. Ball and his staff met with local counterparts to train together, setting up rented personal computers in a conference room at a local hotel.


Steve Uthoff
Former Chief Information Officer
Service Corp.
Uthoff's decision to hire Infosys Technologies, the Indian software development company, coincided with a reorganization of Service Corp.'s technology group that ultimately made Uthoff himself obsolete. The packaged application required less development and maintenance personnel, and the smaller group didn't need a C-level leader.

Frank Hanlon
Chief Executive Officer
Hammond Management Information Systems (HMIS)
Hanlon agreed to a three-way partnership with Service Corp. and Infosys to convert his company's flagship mortuary-management software, from the Microsoft Windows software platform to the fleeter, more expandable Microsoft .Net Web applications platform. The .Net versions of HMIS now support Service Corp.'s 20,000 employees, and Hanlon is free to sell it to other funeral companies.

Kush Kochgaway
Account Manager
Infosys Technologies
He oversees the Infosys team working at Service Corp. in Houston, one of Infosys' first major Microsoft .Net development platform efforts. Service Corp. is Kochgaway's fifth U.S. engagement in his five years with the Indian outsourcer. His group won an internal Infosys award for "overall excellence" for how it managed the Service Corp project.


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