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Triage, IT Style

However, while Children's had executive-level ownership for its ERP project along with a market-leading software vendor and a respected integrator (Arthur Andersen LLP, which has since been bought by KPMG Consulting and renamed BearingPoint), the hospital relied too heavily on these partners while critical IT project responsibilities did not receive the attention and representation they required. That's because the primary project focus was the business flow and how the application would support it. In the understated words of Children's CTO Scott Ogawa, IT's input "was somewhat devalued."

Indeed. Many key members of the Children's IT department--called ISD (Information Services Division) internally--were shut out of ERP planning until May 2001, fully 18 months after the start of the project and just one month before equipment needed to be ordered. Only when the business information was gathered and development was ready to begin did IT get pulled fully into the loop. And we do mean fully--Andersen shifted the focus solely to IT. Ogawa recalls, "Andersen said, 'IT is up to the plate. IT is holding up the whole ball game now.' "

Because it did not have enough representation with the integration partner, the Children's IT staff was forced to scramble, quickly assessing hardware requirements and ordering equipment without knowing exactly how it would be used. Says Ogawa: "The vendor had a big say in the sizing recommendations." Then, the hardware sat idle for two months because of the false sense of urgency. Project confidence within IT suffered, especially as related to Andersen, which had experience rolling out PeopleSoft applications and on which the Children's IT group relied heavily for guidance.

"I knew some things were going on in the background, but I didn't get pulled in until they needed network access," says Children's Network Manager Mark Hourigan. If he had had time to plan and architect a solution properly, Hourigan says, he would have done things differently. Take the VLAN configuration. He did not know at the time how the development, testing and quality-assurance server environments were being built, so he was unable to segment the production servers to optimize them for the launch.

Hourigan wasn't the only IT person sent scrambling to meet PeopleSoft's and Andersen's requirements. Technical Services Manager Kevin Murray and his team are responsible for the hospital's Windows NT environment and helpdesk. Murray took the initiative and pressed for information about the Process Scheduler component of the PeopleSoft 8.0 architecture. To his chagrin, PeopleSoft was less than forthcoming about the size of the systems required to carry out the Process Scheduler job, he says, perhaps because Children's was one of the first large clients to run this Web-based version of the application.

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