Indianapolis Launches $16M ERP Project – – Business Technology Leadership

Computerworld — The city of Indianapolis and Marion County have embarked on a $16 million technology overhaul designed to improve business processes, standardize technology and drive down costs.

“ERP Undercover”: A Reality TV Series Whose Time Has Come

Under the planned three-year effort, the city will replace its ancient mainframe-based backoffice systems with technology based on Oracle Corp.’s PeopleSoft enterprise resource planning suite.

Several similar efforts by other state and local governments have failed in dramatic fashion over the past few years, but Indianapolis IT officials are hopeful they can pull it off successfully by keeping the project focused tightly on business process improvements rather than technological ones.

“We are going to focus on business transformation and not the implementation of technology,” said Glen Baker, the city’s CIO. “We are committed to implementing the products as vanilla as we can” to minimize technical complexity, he said. “We have as much opportunity as we need to modify them later.”

Much of the impetus for the ERP project stems from the need for the city to consolidate and modernize its antiquated and increasingly inadequate 30-year-old mainframe-based IT environment, Baker said.

Though Indianapolis and Marion County governments have been functioning as a consolidated entity since 1970, they maintain separate systems for crucial backoffice functions such as payroll, human resources and order management. Over the years, hundreds of “shadow systems,” based on technologies such as Microsoft Access and Excel, have sprung up around the legacy mainframe environment to support these backoffice administrative functions, Baker said.

Under the project announced this week, all of these systems will be eventually consolidated into one ERP system that will manage financial accounting, procurement, human resources and payroll applications using a common data repository. If everything works according to plan, the project will yield significantly improved business processes, greater data availability and long-term technology cost savings.

Indianapolis-Marion County has chosen a relatively small New York-based systems integrator, Zannet Inc., to help implement the technology. According to Baker, one of the reasons why Zanett was chosen was because it has a big consulting presence in central Indiana and has the ability to bring a strong pool of local talent to the project.

The city’s project is similar to many that have been launched by local and state governments over the past several years and for the same sort of reasons. While some have been successful, many others have not. Only last week, California’s Marin County filed a lawsuit against Deloitte Consulting LLP for $30 million over what it claimed was a botched SAP implementation. In its lawsuit, the county claimed that Deloitte had failed to deliver on promises and had implemented a system that was worse than the legacy environment it was designed to replace.

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