More from the ASU ERP Implementation

Following last week’s coverage of the Arizona State ERP implementation, the Dr. Adrian Sannier, the University Technology Officer, has responded in his blog.

It’s an interesting read. He points out that the mainstream coverage has focused primarily on the Payroll problems the new system had, which is understandable; it’s human interest, and yeah, it totally sucked for those unfortunate employees who got hosed. He also points out the successful areas of the project and underlines that the Payroll issues are resolved.

My question is this: Would this story have been written up in the WSJ if it hadn’t had the Payroll glitches? What if the inevitable glitches had delayed invoice payments to big company vendors like Staples, Apple or Oracle? I doubt seriously that the WSJ would have run a story on the hardship suffered by multi-billion dollar companies that weren’t paid due to the ASU ERP implementation.

Take a breath. I do feel bad about the people who didn’t get paid and had to take out loans.

My point is that what ASU and Sannier have pioneered is, from an ERP implementation perspective, pretty revolutionary, and it takes the principles of New Web–agile development, perpetual beta, users as system testers, collaborative product development–and applies them to a moribund, expensive process that could really benefit from agility.

This is more Enterprise 2.0 than installing a wiki, and there isn’t even a mention of rounded buttons or Ajax. Let’s face it: implementing complex systems is hard, and even if you take years banging away in a development environment, throwing millions into testing and retesting, you’re still going to have unforeseen or unresolved issues when the system goes production.

This is the unpleasant reality, proven many times over the past decade for every major enterprise software company, with no exceptions. ASU and Sannier took a novel approach, driven by necessity, and other companies in similar situations should consider following their lead.

With one key lesson learned, don’t mess with people’s money.

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5 comments

  1. Matt: Nice find. It’s tough to blame any one single party definitively when something goes wrong. As with ASU, I feel bad for the affected parties because they’re people. And also like ASU, I doubt the mainstream media would cover the story if a few vendors were under/over paid. It’s the human interest that drives this as newsworthy.

  2. Matt: Nice find. It’s tough to blame any one single party definitively when something goes wrong. As with ASU, I feel bad for the affected parties because they’re people. And also like ASU, I doubt the mainstream media would cover the story if a few vendors were under/over paid. It’s the human interest that drives this as newsworthy.

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