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Child Support

What follows is a rare behind-the-scenes look at how a user organization can lose control of a big software project--and what it takes to get back on course.

Wholesale Replacement

Some 500 employees who process and approve purchase orders and time sheets now use the PeopleSoft 8.0 system. They include materials management and payroll personnel, as well as department managers who interact with them. The rest of the hospital's 7,000 workers are coming online this month as Children's rolls out PeopleSoft's online benefits module, which lets employees enroll in medical plans and view their pay stubs, among other things.

In one bold stroke, Children's replaced its individual materials management, HR and financial systems. Such wholesale replacement of legacy enterprise applications is common among manufacturers but rare for health-care facilities, experts say. It's also out of character for Children's, a pediatric teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Before the appointment of CIO Daniel Nigrin last year, Children's IT shop usually solved one problem at a time, implementing best-of-breed systems for different operational areas.

The departments affected were running decades-old systems "held together with bandages," Hancox says. Push came to shove when the legacy vendors (Enterprise Systems for materials management, Ross Systems for finance and Cyborg Systems for payroll) threatened to drop support because Children's was using old versions.

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