U.N. Signs For Software As Service

Early next year, it expects to switch many systems to a hosted PeopleSoft environment
In an effort to modernize its business operations in the shortest time possible, the United Nations has embraced the software-as-service model and expects to switch many of its administrative systems to a hosted PeopleSoft Inc. environment in January.

Under a six-year, $27.5 million deal, Unisys Corp. and Corio Inc. will provide the U.N. Development Programme with a fully managed suite of 18 PeopleSoft modules, including customer-relationship-management, human-resources-management, and financial applications.

Redundancy for the United Nations' effort is critical; a Web-based system provides data to Iraq workers.

The U.N. Development Programme provides a range of IT-driven services to numerous U.N. agencies, but CIO Sandy Sanders says its legacy systems were no longer up to the task. "We've been too slow," Sanders says, in providing services that allow U.N. agencies, including the U.N. Population Fund, to track staff assignments, follow interagency money transfers, and stay on top of other critical operations.

Like many private-sector organizations, Sanders says, the U.N. Development Programme found that a hosted model was the fastest, most economical way to migrate to what is virtually an entirely new business infrastructure. "We did not wish this process to drag on ad infinitum," he says.

Sanders also believes that opting for a hosted environment ultimately will cost less. Buying and building a similar system would cost between $15 million and $20 million, he estimates. That's not including what it would cost to staff the operation and build in redundancy, which is critical given that the U.N. Development Programme has been providing vital information to U.N. workers in Iraq over its Web sites. The PeopleSoft initiative is part of a larger effort under way at the United Nations--called for by Secretary General Kofi Annan--to simplify operations and promote collaboration within the organization.