LA department launches second PeopleSoft rollout

Change management programme ensures success after failed first rollout

City personnel in Los Angeles are already finding that the second major PeopleSoft rollout in the past four years is shaping up to be very different from the first one, which was bogged down by internal resistance and inadequate training. One of the major changes is that end users now believe the supply chain software coming in is going to make life better for them.

"Change is a lot easier when people trust that you are not doing anything that will hurt them," said Robert Jensen, assistant general manager in the LA municipal government's department of general services. Along with members of his staff, Jensen spoke with Computerworld US last week to detail the new implementation and describe what was done to turn around the initial one launched in 2000.

His department, which is the project sponsor, learned the hard way that it makes a difference when users "know that you are looking out for them and trying to make their work easier and more manageable."

Even the tone is different this time around: Meetings held with department heads are now "well received." It was quite different a few years ago, when a number of users were hostile to an $US11 million PeopleSoft supply chain management software implementation. "Each of the persons (in the department of general services) involved bears battle scars from that environment," Jensen said. "We all shared the pain."

Now the city is rolling out PeopleSoft's Enterprise 8.8 e-procurement and strategic supplier software. When the upgrade is completed next February, the city government will be able to handle transactions with its suppliers directly over the internet, Jensen said.

Using PeopleSoft's direct connect methodology, buyers will be able to go directly to the Office Depot website, for example, grab inventory data, and use it to populate the city's own purchase order documents online. About 35% of the city's procurement will be automated in that way, reducing the amount of manual data entry needed and streamlining the process.

The software implementation will also help reduce the number of big-ticket items the city has on hand, such as computers and related equipment. Rather than warehouse those items, the city can ensure that its vendors will have the stock nearby and will be able to deliver it the next day, if necessary. Additionally, the strategic sourcing software will allow the general services department to pull in vendor solicitations from all over the web and get the best discounts.

One of the keys to success that the general services department will be applying is that it will spend money upfront for change management — a hard lesson learned from the initial rollout. Good change management requires a communication plan that identifies everyone whose role will change during the implementation.

"The plan needs to identify champions, owners, stakeholders and users and what and when you will communicate with them and the media used for that communication," Jensen explained. "The other part is how to self-motivate these folks to want to spread the word that the change is good and should be supported."

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