PeopleSoft problems not repeated at Akld Uni: IT director

Early adoption of new enterprise applications is proving to involve significant financial and process risk for two universities, though one local institution is counting its successes.

Early adoption of new enterprise applications is proving to involve significant financial and process risk for two universities, though one local institution is counting its successes.

PeopleSoft has been slapped with a $US510 million lawsuit by a US state over an alleged failed implementation at a university and Australia’s RMIT tertiary institution blew its budget during a PeopleSoft installation last year.

Auckland University’s PeopleSoft project, by comparison, has been largely successful, says IT systems and services director Stephen Whiteside.

“One doesn’t define things strictly in terms of success or failure. We’ve made great strides in our PeopleSoft implementation but there are still some processes to go through.”

The US and Australian cases both involve PeopleSoft student administration systems and Whiteside says such systems “aren’t mature like finance and HR”.

Therefore, defining best practice in student administration systems is less certain, he says.

At Auckland University, “there are niche parts of the implementation that are more successful than others.”

The US lawsuit, filed by Ohio’s attorney general on behalf of Cleveland State University, seeks $US510 million in damages for an allegedly underperforming ERP and student administration system.

The lawsuit claims the student administration applications were “vapourware” when installed in 1997 and that the financial aid module is still unstable.

It alleges the software wouldn’t run on the university’s IBM mainframe, as PeopleSoft claimed it would, that “hundreds of bugs” were needed to get the software working properly and that the failures necessitated spending millions on new hardware.

Whiteside says the systems at issue in the case are very old.

“It’s ancient history. It’s a long way back in the product cycle and the ones we implemented are vastly different [from those in the case].”

The RMIT implementation involved installing a PeopleSoft student administration system at the same time an SAP upgrade and a university administration system change were taking place.

A Gartner report into the RMIT implementation pointed to lack of communication between team member and recommended the university take a more rigourous look at its business issues before implementing big systems.’

US analyst Joshua Greenbaum, speaking in response to the University of Cleveland lawsuit, said failed ERP installations are often the result of implementation problems rather than the software itself.

Auckland University is to upgrade from PeopleSoft student administration version 7.6 to version 8.9 by the end of the year, Whiteside says.

“We’ll be spending a lot of this year looking at the opportunities it’ll give us to refine our processes.”

The HR and payroll systems are also to be upgraded, he says.

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