The Ministry of Justice went to unusual lengths to select its new core software platform, hiring nine rooms in Wellington’s Westpac Stadium in 2005 and bringing in users from around the country to give their verdicts on three different options.
The Ministry was seeking core financial software, procurement, time recording and project management software to replace its existing GEAC Smartstream software, which CFO Glen McStay says had reached its end-of-life and no longer met Justice’s needs, including procurement and integrated budgeting and accounts receivable.
It was decided that access to the new system would be rolled out to as many users as possible. Where the existing applications served 200 users, the new ones would be used by 1,000 or more. For that reason, McStay says, ease of use was a paramount consideration.
After an RFP, a shortlist was developed considering up-front and whole-of-life cost, technical functionality and fit for the Ministry’s infrastructure. The shortlist comprised three vendors: SAP, Technology One and QSP.
At that point occasional users were called in to road-test the modules for management reporting, budgeting and purchasing. Seventy users each got to see two out of the three areas. McStay says these users’ perceptions were sought on ease of use and the amount of training they felt they would need to use the new technology.
Westpac Stadium was chosen as the venue for the road-test because it is one of the only venues that could manage 70 users across nine different rooms with enough distance between the rooms to ensure an “appropriate separation” between the vendors.
“If you sit through presentations its easy to forget what each vendor offers,” McStay says. “The approach taken allowed users to quickly contrast and compare like offerings between vendors.”
The Westpac Stadium event was quickly followed up with more traditional evaluations, including vendor presentations, module by module, over two days.
In the end, Technology One got the nod. The system went live on May 1 and by the end of September up to 1,300 people will be using the software. Purchasing will be added in the new year, McStay says. No new infrastructure was required to support the new platform as the Ministry was already upgrading its desktops to Windows XP.