Oracle lands $100 million ERP project covering 34 colleges

Expert: The project in Washington state looks 'very complicated'.

By , IDG News Service |  Software, ERP, Oracle

Some in Washington state's education community also likely haven't forgotten problems that Washington State University had last year, when a newly installed PeopleSoft system experienced glitches, resulting in problems with financial aid disbursements at the start of the semester.

WSCTC's size is considerable, as its schools serve 470,000 students and 21,000 employees, according to its website.

There's also something inherently difficult about installing ERP at a school system, according to Wang.

"Campuses are in fact small cities and governments," he said. "They are very complex from food service to student housing to course work. It's as if you are putting together 25 different businesses onto the same system."

The Washington schools' project announced Tuesday in particular looks "very complicated," said analyst Michael Krigsman, CEO of consulting firm Asuret and an expert on IT project failures.

"It's big and involves lots of change going across many different schools," he added. "Let me put it this way, if we were to look at the statistics of this kind of project it's almost a certainty that it's going to come in over budget."

Indeed, the project is intended to "standardize business processes across the colleges with the least amount of customization and college-unique configuration as possible," according to its website, meaning individual schools may have to make many adjustments to the way they're used to working.

School officials "need to recognize the dangers going in," Krigsman said. "It's very easy to underestimate the capacity of the organization to absorb the change."

WSCTC should err on the side of higher budgets and longer timelines, and be sure to devote plenty of attention to system testing when the go-live date nears, he added.

Two schools in the system are scheduled to go live in August 2014, followed by four deployment waves ending in July 2017, according to the project website.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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