County seeking new software vendor to replace SAP system

Marin County will favor 'tier two' ERP vendors in the second go-round

By , IDG News Service |  Software

Marin County, California, has begun the search for new ERP (enterprise resource planning) software to replace a troubled SAP implementation that generated an ugly legal battle between the county, SAP and systems integrator Deloitte.

County supervisors voted this week to approve an RFP (request for proposals) from vendors who want to take on the job. Officials are focused on "tier two" vendors, which are generally smaller and more focused, and especially ones that have experience in the public sector, said County Administrator Matthew Hymel during a meeting of the supervisory board, which was webcast.

"A big lesson learned [from the SAP project] was around fit for an organization our size and the business that we're in," Hymel said. Tier one ERP vendors such as SAP and Oracle offer "very complicated products that serve Fortune 500 companies," he added.

"Our employees were definitely impacted by our last implementation so they taking this very seriously," Hymel said. "We're all in agreement of the need to do this right."

Given the "pain" caused by implementing SAP, Marin County officials are taking a "belt-and-suspenders," or quite conservative, approach to the new project, he added.

For one thing, the project will stick to phased deadlines, based on readiness. "We're not going to go live unless we're ready," he said. More resources for training users, as well as improved efforts to take in user feedback, are also planned.

"We've really gone out of our way in many cases to ensure our users are heard," said county IT staffer Tim Flanagan, who also spoke at the meeting. "Every department has been involved and included."

Responses to the RFP are due in December and it's hoped that an approved contract will be signed by June.

Marin County wants to save money compared to what it cost to acquire and run SAP on an ongoing basis, and is also open to using products from multiple vendors, rather than trying to find one that says it can handle every functional area, according to Flanagan.

Supervisors offered Hymel and Flanagan praise for their efforts planning the second project.

"I think we've really laid out a good map," said District 1 Supervisor Susan Adams, as she paged through a thick binder containing the second project's details.

The supervisory board's good mood belied the acrimony stirred up by the county's now-settled lawsuit, which reportedly cost it US$5 million in legal fees but netted just $3.9 million in settlement payments.

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