The tail wagging the dog. Working for the IT system.

“In its current form I think most people would tell you that it hasn’t delivered a lot as compared to the old system… what we’ve said in terms of re-implementing is that if you’re going to take a system like a PeopleSoft system or a SAP system you have to come from the premise that it’s been developed usually with best practice in mind. What you should always try to do is rather than trying to modify the system to suit your processes at all times try to look at ways of modifying your processes to suit the system.”

http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/business/soa/In-depth-RMIT-s-PeopleSoft-disaster/0,139023166,120279146,00.htm 

Is it just me or the tail wagging the dog? Shouldn’t the systems work for the organization? What I find amazing is how many businesses are slaves to their IT systems. A classic example is the rise of Point Of Sale systems in the late 80s, early 90s. Shops moved from 7 department cash registers to POS systems and found they needed more staff due to the inflexibility of the software supplied with the POS system which required every item of stock to be checked in before the system would even allow it to be sold. Maybe software isn’t so soft?

An interesting side effect of the dominant  IT system is the way managers perceive it’s value. Here at the University where I work we have a multi-million dollar Peoplesoft system that costs an incredible amount to maintain and ultimately is only an administration system yet management don’t seem to question the associated costs of this but question the value of the student facing systems that are our principle source of income.

“March 29, 2004 (Computerworld) — Ohio’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against PeopleSoft Inc. seeking $510 million in damages over a problematic installation of the company’s ERP and student administration applications at Cleveland State University.  “

http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/erp/story/0,10801,91720,00.html

June 23, 2006 (Computerworld) The 11-campus North Dakota University System (NDUS) continues to work on a troubled rollout of PeopleSoft ERP and academic software that critics said has exceeded budget and missed deadlines.

 http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=printArticleBasic&articleId=9001396

Apparently I’m not the only one who questions the wisdom of Peoplesoft but I don’t believe the problem is just with Peoplesoft. There is a massive industry of consultants, standards and compliance around IT. ITIL is another example of standardizing what should be common sense and I’m sure the ITIL consultants are rubbing their hands together over this latest fad. More to come.

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