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Technological Changes Are Hard

The payroll wreck being endured by tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers serves as a reminder that when software deployment goes wrong, the results can be truly disastrous -- no matter what size business is involved.
The payroll wreck being endured by tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers serves as a reminder that when software deployment goes wrong, the results can be truly disastrous -- no matter what size business is involved."Since launching a $95-million computer system six months ago, the Los Angeles Unified School District has been beset by programming glitches, hardware crashes and mistakes by hurriedly trained clerical staff. The result: tens of thousands of teachers, cafeteria workers, classroom aides and others have been underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all," according to the LA Times.

One teacher, interviewed by NPR has been receiving a monthly paycheck for $96.01 since June. Seven months, two consulting firms, and $10 million worth of fixes later, payroll problems stemming from the three-phase SAP rollout persist.

Did I say problems? The LA City Beat prefers to characterize the system "issues" as a "felony act of callousness and stupidity".

A similar situation on a smaller scale reportedly occurred at LA Community College, and at the San Bernardino and Minneapolis school districts.

While the teachers union preps for organized protests, school district officials are in talks with Deloitte Consulting, the firm hired to manage the system integration. For the record, Deloitte isn't saying much beyond a written statement that asserts the company fulfilled its contractual obligations, NPR reported yesterday.

School board president Monica Garcia told NPR that "technological changes are hard."

The lesson here? Choose your vendors carefully, and work closely with them. Don't be left holding a sack of problems bigger than what you started with.

Image Courtesy of Richard Hartog, LA Times

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