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EFS - A fifty million dollar system that doesn't work?

From MPR:

After five years of planning the University of Minnesota recently updated its finance and accounting system at a cost of $50 million dollars. But not everyone is happy with the change. Some of the 5,000 users of the new system say it's too complicated and doesn't work properly. U of M officials say they are working to fix the problems.

You wouldn't expect a guy like Joe Konstan to have problems with a new computer system, no matter how complex.

"There have been a number of bumps along the road," Konstan said. "Including certain types of data that weren't correct, where we told don't trust the balances in the system until everything gets cleaned up."

Here's why those concerns matter. The EFS handles all of the University's business. Whether it's a payment to an employee, or a payment to a vendor, everything passes through the Enterprise Financial System.

You can practically hear the gnashing of teeth in the minutes from a September faculty meeting where a group of employees worried aloud that the new system might crash, and cause big problems at the U.

Tom Klein, in the department of applied economics on the University's St. Paul campus, uses the accounting system to gather financial reports.

"I do believe there are some things that aren't working," Klein said. "There are some things that just don't work."

The pretty obvious questions are:

For fifty million dollars, why doesn't this work?

Why was the system not tested out on a sacrificial lamb, rather than using the whole university as a guinea pig?


Sir: I suspect we do indeed have an early version of the EFS system in place. Note that announcements on the EFS News page http://www.finsys.umn.edu/news/news.html have been cleverly post-dated "October 22, 20008" and "October 17, 20008." Perhaps $10M annually for the next 18,000 years will indeed be adequate to establish a more usable version of EFS.

At the departmental level, I can say that no innovation at UM over the past 20 years has been so expensive in human hours. Staff in our college now do virtually nothing but thrash at EFS, curse, and plan early retirement.

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