Montanans wrangle ornery software

Montanans wrangle ornery software

At 900 miles wide, bigness is not often a problem for Montana. But the state has faced big challenges recently with an overhaul of its financial, human resources management and budget information system.
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The Statewide Accounting, Budgeting and Human Resources System (SABHRS) has replaced a homegrown legacy system that was written in Cobol in the early 1970s. Although the mainframe system was stable, it was difficult to use and required the same data to be entered several times. 'We wanted to take advantage of the new technologies available,' said Chuck Virag, chief of the SABHRS Bureau. The client-server architecture of SABHRS would let employees update the system quickly, according to the upgrade plan.

Work began on the system in October 1997, and it has been up and running since July. SABHRS runs PeopleSoft 7.0 from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif., and accesses financial, payroll and human resources information stored in Oracle8 databases.

But the implementation has run into difficulties, Virag said. The biggest problem was creating the SABHRS environment and bringing all the data together, he said

Although designed to make data entry easy, SABHRS had a longer learning curve than expected. The change from a 25-year-old mainframe that many users were familiar with to a point-and-click environment was bumpy, Virag said.

A low point came last fall when 419 workers were short-changed in their paychecks because of problems with SABHRS. 'We're optimistic that the upgrades will clear up these deficiencies,' Virag said.

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