Update: Cleveland State University told solution to computer woes to cost $2.6 million

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And this is on top of 11 million plus already paid to the consultants...

CSU told solution to computer woes to cost $2.6 million

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

By JOEL RUTCHICK and RON RUTTI PLAIN DEALER REPORTERS When Cleveland State University officials demanded a plan to solve the schools financial aid computer software crisis, they expected the fix to take a month and the costs to be modest. What they got from software company PeopleSoft Inc. were projections of a $2.6 million tab and a nine-month job that would be completed just as fall registration begins. In December, PeopleSofts "action plan" was given to university trustees. But trustees found the companys plan to be a framework that provided few specifics and no assurances that the manifold problems would be solved. The board rejected PeopleSofts plan as inadequate earlier this month and is now looking at proposals from other consultants to correct the deficiencies. The university released PeopleSofts plan last evening in response to a lawsuit The Plain Dealer filed in the Ohio Supreme Court on Friday to force CSU to do so. CSU had refused to provide the 49-page plan, saying that PeopleSoft objected on the grounds that the document contained proprietary and confidential material. "It was very open-ended. There were no guarantees that they would fix it," CSU Trustee Chairman William F. Patient said of the plan. "If you read the thing, what they really say is, We will work with you on it." One of the reasons the plan is deficient, Patient said, is that it fails to reflect a sense of urgency to solve the problems. CSU President Claire Van Ummersen said, "There were certain pieces we wanted done more rapidly." Steve Swasey, PeopleSofts director of corporate public relations, said the plan is "clearly an effort by PeopleSoft to stand by its customer. We believe that what we have done is appropriate and right." Although there was some expectation on the part of CSU that PeopleSoft would shoulder the costs, Swasey said the company was entitled to "bill for its services and earn a profit." He said he was unable to discuss the plan in depth and that those conversant with the plan could not be reached last night. When CSU chose PeopleSoft in 1996, the university estimated the project would cost about $4.2 million. Expenditures have soared to more than $11 million. CSU has refused to release recent cost figures, however. The PeopleSoft software, put in place for the 1998-99 academic year, was to replace a patchwork of outdated programs with one integrated system for registration, financial aid and bill paying. But a variety of glitches created numerous problems, especially in the financial aid program. The $2.6 million in additional costs called for by the latest plan would pay for project management, consulting and training, PeopleSoft said. Among its nine targeted areas were improving communication with the university, increasing training of workers who deal with students and identifying CSU staffing needs. With the PeopleSoft plan rejected by the board, CSU now plans to review proposals submitted by 14 companies to fix software problems that have plagued the student financial aid division. Van Ummersen said she hoped to take something to the board on the proposals by the end of the month. She said she did not know how much the fixes would cost. School officials have said they want software bugs stamped out by April so that financial aid packages can be readied for students considering enrolling at the school next fall. "Were going to get this job done," said Patient, who did not rule out still trying to work with PeopleSoft on fixes. CSU trustees have said they will sue the firm if the company does not help solve the problems. Swasey said the best software projects were those in which there are realistic expectations on project costs and implementation time, as well as project managers who understand the software. Asked if he meant that CSU did not meet those criteria, Swasey said, "One could infer that, yeah." The university has been criticized for hiring the Kaludis Consulting Group to oversee the PeopleSoft project. Kaludis had worked extensively with Van Ummersen in the past but had no experience installing PeopleSoft products.

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-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), January 19, 2000


quote: "Among its nine targeted areas were improving communication with the university,..."

After turning a $4 million job into $11 million with prospects of getting another $2 million, why would you want to change anything?

CSU appears to be cash cow that needs more milking.

-- Tom Beckner (tbeckner@xout.erols.com), January 19, 2000.

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