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Child Support: Page 3 of 15

This approach has trade-offs, Ogawa acknowledges. Many users have complained that the user interface isn't intuitive, in part because version 8.0 is PeopleSoft's first ERP revision that relies on a browser rather than a full desktop client. Children's could have tried to perfect the user interface and workflow before rolling out the modules, but with that approach, "you have no return for the entire implementation cycle. It's all investment," Ogawa says. By evolving with the application while it's in production, "maybe it's not intuitive, maybe it's cumbersome, but we're running the business."

Perhaps the biggest lesson of the ICS project, Ogawa says, is that big software projects require owners who can be held accountable. "When we went live with ICS, you had all these people involved and all you saw were their palms saying, 'It wasn't me, I didn't choose this, I didn't want to go this way,' " he says.

This time, should the PeopleSoft project suffer the same fate as ICS, the fall guys are Hancox, Nigrin and Chief Financial Officer David Kirshner. Hancox and Nigrin don't even want to think about the consequences of failure. (Kirshner wouldn't comment.)

It's the first such massive project for all the principals. Hancox says she has overseen system upgrades but never for so many departments at once. What's more, the seven software developers on staff had virtually no experience with large-scale enterprise applications, so Children's had to add four more developers and bring in some 20 consultants, says lead developer Leo Judge.

It was this lack of internal experience that tilted power to PeopleSoft and Andersen.