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Child Support: Page 2 of 15

"We wouldn't upgrade because always hanging out there was that we were going to get new systems," Hancox recalls. "So everybody was trying to be fiscally responsible, and now the house is getting older while we don't replace the windows and the doors and the roof."

The old systems were incompatible with one another, leading to delays while data was rekeyed and workers placed countless phone calls to determine the status of payment authorizations and checks. Says Hancox, "Here we are, the highest-tech hospital from a patient care standpoint, and we're living in the Dark Ages from a systems standpoint."

The strategies Children's used in its ERP rollout were based on lessons learned from the hospital's last major IT project, a collection of applications called the Integrated Clinical System (ICS) designed to keep track of patient billing and electronic medical records. The business case for buying that software called for so much customization that the product became almost unrecognizable, says Chief Technology Officer Scott Ogawa.

Project costs went over budget on that project, so the hospital had to scale it back drastically. Today, ICS handles mostly patient accounting and appointment scheduling. The hospital's conversion to electronic medical records is on hold.

Children's difficulty with ICS is a big reason the organization isn't messing too much with the PeopleSoft ERP code. The mandate is to stick with the plain vanilla, out-of-the-box functionality to minimize development and maintenance costs.