DQE, Inc., begins using Open-c Solutions customer care software

Billing services organization at DQE, Inc. is now officially using the customer information system developed by Open-c Solutions, a rising customer-care and billing solution provider.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Jan. 24, 2001--Billing services organization at DQE, Inc. is now officially using the customer information system developed by Open-c Solutions, a rising customer-care and billing solution provider.

Sierra Systems Group Inc. (TSE - SSG), a leading systems integrator and business consulting firm in North America, is pleased to announce that AquaSource, an affiliate of DQE, Inc., has gone live with the Open-cIS customer information system (CIS) to deliver billing and customer-care services. Sierra Systems acted as the implementation partner for Open-c on this project and is pleased to announce its success.

Thomas Hubbell, Vice President of Information Technology at DQE, expressed the importance of the Open-cIS project to his organization, ``It was imperative that AquaSource implement a long-term customer care solution in 2000. By working closely with Open-c Solutions and Sierra Systems, our project team has achieved a major corporate objective at DQE. I am pleased to report that AquaSource is extremely happy with the delivered solution and the results of the implementation effort. This significant accomplishment was achieved by a team of dedicated professionals from DQE corporate IT, AquaSource, Open-c Solutions and Sierra Systems. All contributing parties should take great pride in this major accomplishment.''

Pat Langan, President of Open-c Solutions, pointed out that the assistance of integration partner Sierra Systems was crucial to the success of the DQE/AquaSource implementation, ``Sierra Systems greatly enhanced our ability to implement Open-cIS swiftly and smoothly. Their skilled resources and emphasis on risk management helped us complete the project in just nine months and avoid the pitfalls that are typical of CIS projects.''

Al Ytsma, Vice President responsible for the Utilities Practice at Sierra Systems praised the adaptability of Open-cIS, ``The flexibility of the architecture of Open-cIS allowed the implementation team to configure the system to meet the specific business needs of AquaSource within a very aggressive time-frame. Sierra Systems truly believes that Open-cIS is destined to become an industry leader.''

Mr. Hubbell went on to explain why Open-cIS is the right choice for DQE and AquaSource, ``AquaSource is comprised of six hundred water and waste-water systems in twenty-one states. Therefore, for us to provide effective support for AquaSource's system needs as they pertain to customer care, we require a CIS with flexibility to support multi-state and multi-jurisdictional requirements. At the same time, we need a system that can evolve as AquaSource continues to consolidate and make improvements to its business operations. We feel that Open-cIS is the ideal solution that is configurable and allows us to provide timely and cost-effective support to AquaSource without having to rely on the vendor to continually make software changes.''

Mr. Langan spoke of the special significance of this achievement, ``The production use of Open-cIS at DQE represents a major milestone for our organization. DQE is our first customer and first implementation effort - completing this successfully on an aggressive schedule validates our product and our implementation approach. The outstanding result is also a testament to the quality of the people that participated on the project team.'' DQE reports that the system has been operating well since the initial date of implementation. Mr. Langan further said, ``DQE is pleased with the results, and Open-c Solutions is proud to have provided the solution for AquaSource's customer care and billing needs.''

About Sierra Systems

Sierra Systems Group Inc. (TSE - SSG) is a leading source for solutions to North America's top technology challenges. Sierra Systems' core systems integration and management consulting excellence, built over 34 years, gives clients a solid foundation to draw from for their successful eWorld ventures. Sierra Systems' thought leadership and eWorkplace initiatives are recognized across traditional and emerging industries including utilities, health, justice, government, financial services and insurance, and telecommunications. Practical, reliable and innovative, Sierra Systems knows how to identify and deliver high-impact results for clients at any level. Visit Sierra Systems' Web site at www.SierraSystems.com.

About Open-c Solutions

Open-c Solutions, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the premium provider of customer information systems (CIS) software for major utilities, energy marketers and billing service bureaus. The company offers Open-cIS as a supported software license and as an application service. Visit Open-c Solutions' Web site at www.open-c.com.

About DQE, Inc.

DQE is a growth utility delivering essential products and related services, including electricity, water, gas and communications, to more than one million customers throughout the United States. DQE combines its extensive utility delivery expertise with leading-edge technology to create greater value for customers and shareholders. AquaSource is a DQE subsidiary, which acquires, develops, and manages water and waste-water assets throughout the U.S. Visit DQE's Web site at www.dqe.com.

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