Oracle PeopleSoft payroll problems still peeve police

The PeopleSoft system has been dishing out erroneous paychecks, short-changing some police

Problems with an Oracle PeopleSoft ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that have resulted in faulty paychecks going out to police officers in Fort Worth, Texas, have persisted for months with no clear end in sight.

Fort Worth police and supporters have taken to the Facebook site of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association in recent days, expressing frustration, confusion and outrage over the situation.

"Is the ERP a tool with which the city destroys the employee morale, steals employee pay and/or holds it hostage?" one wrote.

"Really they owe me over a thousand dollars and all I ever get is 'we are working on it,'" another poster wrote. "I used to be proud to work here, not anymore."

The officers' organization has "worked every day on this issue and [we] have researched every single aspect of it," said a message posted to the Facebook site on Monday. "The only realistic avenue is to keep the daily pressure on them as we are doing. This will not be a quick fix, nor will it be easy, but we are working every realistic angle possible to get it fixed."

FWPOA President Richard Van Houten did not respond to a call Tuesday for additional comment.

A city spokesman previously told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper that the problems were the result of human error. He could not be reached Tuesday.

The system went live in October after about two years of work, according to a Jan. 4 Fort Worth City Council document. The council has approved up to about US$1.8 million for additional consulting fees in order to "provide additional support on an as-needed basis beyond the originally planned stabilization period," according to the document.

In addition, Fort Worth has contracted with PeopleSoft consultancy MiPro, which will conduct an audit of the system.

An Oracle spokeswoman could not immediately comment on the Fort Worth matter Tuesday.

The ERP industry was marked by a string of high-profile project woes in recent months, with the Fort Worth situation being far from the worst. The incidents show that implementing such software remains quite tricky and trouble-prone even as it grows in maturity.

Experts say ERP projects can only succeed if the three main participants -- vendor, customer and systems integrator -- each plays their respective role correctly.

Part of the $1.8 million in additional consulting fees will go toward training city workers on the system, according to the Star-Telegram.

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

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