New Zealand: Christchurch Council plays down glitches in new computer system : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Council plays down Famis glitches

by Mike Bruce

Christchurch City Council management is playing down glitches in its much-vaunted new computer system, despite a six-month delay in implementation. One council source yesterday called the new Financial and Management Information Solution (Famis) project a disaster which was "being driven by adrenalin and ego rather than sound planning". The new computer system is now six months behind its original schedule, which council management said had been "always optimistic". The system was scheduled to be commissioned last December, but was delayed until March owing to the project being more "complex and more challenging than expected". The council source said many of the project's deadlines had not been met, which would cause further delays, and that had prompted the council's directorate to allocate considerably more staff and resources to the project. The council's operations director, Ken Lawn, said the main element of the system (Sap) was still on track for a March start, but some parts of the local government (Gems) system were likely to be delayed "a few weeks to ensure they work properly". Mr Lawn said an estimated 25 staff from various units had been called in to work full-time on implementation of the new system. While this cost was not included in the $5.7 million budget, it was not an added cost to ratepayers, Mr Lawn said. "The vast majority of the 25 staff have been seconded, they've not been replaced, and so we've just had to change priorities a bit. This is not an extra cost to the organisation."

Link to story:

-- Carl Jenkins (, January 25, 2000


"...Lawn, said the main element of the system (Sap)..." SAP? Haven't we heard of them before? Does anyone know more about SAP? They did Hershey's, didn't they? Seems like there are some other companies in trouble with SAP software. Where has SAP gotten it right? Mousie

-- Mousie (, January 25, 2000.

The greatest SAP failure to date...Bankrupted a company

-- William R. Sullivan (, January 25, 2000.

Thanks William. What a sad mess. Are there any companies still going to SAP? I know virtually nothing about computers yet I recognize SAP and consider it to be bad news. Wonder how healthy SAP is these days. Mousie

-- Mousie (, January 25, 2000.


There are lot's of companies going to and currently using SAP. The overall idea is optimizes what a company purchases based on current inputs and past trends. It also does stuff that people used to do by hand i.e. planning. There is a lot of competition in this space and it is part of the increase in productivity due to technology that Greenspan is always mentioning. It is inevitable that companies will use SAP or some other products similar to it.

If you read closely the Fox-Meyer account, what you see is just a big software project gone bad. The difference with this and others is that the business was now heavily dependent upon the success of the software project. This is what had so many programmers concerned about y2k. It isn't that SAP is necessarilly bad...although it does have some things in it that aren't efficient. It is that the programmers implementing the Fox-Meyer system didn't understand well how SAP worked and hence wrote stuff that either didn't work or when it did work it worked slowly.

These are common travails for software. Just think of windows and how many bugs there are in it and the programs that run on it. These ERP systems have many of the same issues. Eventually the bugs get worked out and things go smoothly but you have to make sure going over the rough spots won't put you out of business. The Fox-Meyer failure was as much a failure of upper management as it was of technology.

-- William R. Sullivan (, January 26, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ