UN agency embraces PeopleSoft

The global rollout of HR and payroll systems is reaping rewards

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has undertaken a US$59 million (NZ$85 million) rollout of PeopleSoft applications in 145 countries.

The UN agency fights poverty and diseases such as AIDS, and helps stricken countries such as those affected by last December’s tsunami in South-East Asia. To help modernise its technology platform globally the agency is now running Oracle’s PeopleSoft 8 Enterprise Human Capital Management and Enterprise Financial Management and portal applications says Jens Wandel, project director for the centre for business solutions at the agency.

Wandel says the UNDP’s processes were, in the past, supported by a hodgepodge of home-grown legacy systems, including 21 separate HR, payroll and procurement applications. This prompted the agency, in 2002, to choose a single centralised system, hosted and managed by Unisys.

Some 8,500 end users tap into the PeopleSoft software with as many as 1,800 concurrent users working on it at times, Wandel says. Web-based training was a key to getting the users up to speed and each office was required to evaluate how well it was adopting the new system, he says.

The PeopleSoft system went live in January 2004, while Oracle was attempting to gain control of PeopleSoft. It continues to be extended and stabilised and required extensive training and process re-engineering. “Modernising development is something we work at every day,” Wandel says. “It continues to be a challenge for us to deliver the same level of professional standards throughout the world.”

Some of the UNDP’s offices are in technology-starved nations or in countries such as Sudan that are in crisis zones. But because the PeopleSoft system is centrally hosted and web accessible around the clock the agency’s four Sudan offices can collaborate and share data, as well as perform HR and financial management operations. Before the rollout began collaboration was impossible because of the large distances between offices and reliance on paper or fax-based systems.

Among the benefits for the UNDP is the ability to operate using a common set of data. Additionally, all employee information — including language certifications, visa status and personnel data — can be accessed from a single HR repository. The new finance system also assists in complying with international accounting standards and can factor in multiple currencies.

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