SPRINGFIELD – After Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn lost election he approved contracts without cost limits for an information system that will totally transform the way state workers perform their jobs.
Quinn awarded $8,565,645 to Deloitte Consulting and Accenture on Dec. 12, to start converting the state to a system of “enterprise resource planning.”
A contract notice stated, “Due to the nature of the engagement it is not at this time feasible to determine the total price for the initial five year term of this contract.”
Quinn won’t have to manage the massive changes he arranged. He leaves that to Bruce Rauner, the new governor.
Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, equips managers of big organizations to combine information from separate departments.
It can save money in the long run, but in the short run it requires expensive tools and intense training.
Online articles advise that productivity suffers while workers learn the system, and that their training never ends.
The system is hard to learn and use, according to excitingIP.com, which estimates it takes one to three years to function fully.
According to Ramco.com, staff must be comfortable or the system will backfire.
The system is hard to customize, according to ExforsysInc.com, and modifying it to suit an organization’s needs is expensive and tedious.
Goeun Seo wrote for a Massachusetts Institute of Technology thesis that failure of the system comes not from software but from the massive changes ERP causes.
He wrote that some workers who can’t carry out actions through the system carry them out the way they did previously.
He studied two organizations that adopted the system and found that neither achieved their expected return on investment.
“Full ERP system implementation was much more costly than expected, and the systems also required significant secondary resources and ongoing maintenance efforts,” he wrote.
Online writers assert that senior managers must plan a conversion carefully.
According to Tripod.com, “Organizations must do exceptional planning and devise appropriate strategies before giving the green light to ERP systems.”
According to excitingIP.com, evaluation prior to implementation is critical.
Some writers express security concerns for software and hardware.
According to Tripod.com, the system does not protect against information theft and increases the risk of information misuse.
Exforsys notes that it gives sensitive information to technology support workers.
Quinn ’s commitment to enterprise resource planning hit the news last February.
In the Huffington Post, former state Democratic Party press secretary David Ormsby wrote that Quinn planned a “vast and expensive modernization.”
Ormsby credited the idea to Quinn’s chief information officer, Sean Vinck.
Ormsby wrote, “Whoever is sworn in 2015 will be grateful for the effort to haul the state into the 21st century, and the extra cash it is slated to save.”
He wrote, “But it is a risk – a big risk that Quinn or his successor will need to manage.”
In April, Crain’s Chicago Business described Quinn’s plan as a massive, long overdue project with risks of delays and cost overruns.
Denver consultant Vanessa Giacomin told Crain’s that, “We haven’t seen many state projects go according to plan.”
Vinck told Crain’s that Illinois might become the first big state to put its financial reports in the cloud.
Crain’s reported that talks about integrating the comptroller and the treasurer into the system were ongoing.
In May, the state posted a request for two companies to develop and implement enterprise resource planning.
In July, proposals arrived from Deloitte, Accenture, IBM, and a New Jersey company, Cherry Road Technologies.
On Nov. 4, Illinois voters elected Rauner.
On Dec. 12, the management and budget office posted notice that it would select Deloitte and Accenture.
The notice pledged that the state would lay a foundation for better and more accountable government.