Two agencies, two solutions to the PeopleSoft dilemma

Talk about an about-face. One year ago, Orlando, Fla., deputy CIO John Matelski was among the most outspoken critics of the then-impending Oracle acquisition of PeopleSoft. Since then he has mellowed, even going so far as to actually trust that the database giant will provide a smooth upgrade from its PeopleSoft platform.

'I do have questions, but I am comfortable they are going in the right path,' Matelski said, voicing a far less strident view than the one he held a year ago.

In a January 2004 opinion piece for Optimize magazine, Matelski wrote, 'When a software supplier is swallowed by a corporate giant, there's tremendous uncertainty over the support that users of complex business applications can expect. And that's exactly the case now, even before an actual takeover has occurred.'

At the time, Orlando was about to upgrade its J.D. Edwards software platform, which the city was running for financials, to PeopleSoft (PeopleSoft acquired J.D Edwards that year). It would be a $250,000 job, and Matelski was in no mood to go through yet another upgrade, he said in the magazine.

What changed his mind? Meeting with Oracle. In January of this year, Matelski, like many other large PeopleSoft customers, met with Oracle's development team during the company's kickoff meeting. He left Redwood Shores, Calif., feeling the company was interested in listening to and'better yet'addressing his concerns. In fact, the Oracle developers were more receptive to his ideas than the PeopleSoft developers he'd worked with before.

Matelski said that, given the input from the development team, he felt 'it would be far more financially beneficial to move forward [with an upgrade], as long as all the options and functionality are still there.' Matelski emphasized he would still explore all his options.

Jumping ship

While some organizations are sticking with PeopleSoft/Oracle, others have changed platforms'regardless of the merger issue'and found the migration path easier than expected. This may bode well for agencies enticed by the siren songs of PeopleSoft/Oracle alternatives.

When the Henry County, Ga., Water Authority migrated from PeopleSoft to Microsoft's Great Plains Enterprise Resource Planning software, the county's integrator found the process surprisingly painless.

The water authority wanted to move off the PeopleSoft application'which ran financials, human resources, payroll and accounting'in order to cut maintenance costs, said Lee House, president of Ibis Inc. of Atlanta, the integrator on the project. House said PeopleSoft required Henry County to hire outside consultants, while it could more easily manage Great Plains software in-house.

The migration was performed in the latter half of 2000, Because Henry County needed only basic functionalty, Great Plains offered the required features pretty much out of the box. Archiving older database information allowed House to convert only summaries of many older blocks of information, rather than the data sets themselves.

'What we found was that when customers license ERP originally, they license it for the features and functions. But once they deploy it, they do not use as many features and functions as they thought,' House said.

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