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The Collapse of the California State IT Payroll Project

The Collapse of the California State IT Payroll Project

If you've managed or been a part of any project, it's no secret that there are many factors that can contribute to a project's decline.  An analysis of a recent event involving the state of California and SAP Public Services failure to implement a major IT payroll project provides a few insights into several unique, and not so unique, hazards you should recognize and avoid in your own IT projects.

After 10 years and costs of a quarter of a billion dollars, the IT payroll project, designated the 21st Century Project, was terminated in February 2013.   Between October 2007 and February 2013, the state organization had many warnings that the project was not proceeding smoothly.  During this same period the state almost tripled the project cost from $132 million to $373 million and extended the completion date from June 2009 to September 2013. The state is now going back to using its legacy payroll system while it reevaluates the project to see if anything is salvageable.

A 46 page analysis, prepared for the California Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee titled, "Crash Course: Failure to heed early warnings, troubles of the past contributed to payroll system collapse", identified many issues that contributed to the failed project. 

Here are four of the more critical problems that occurred and what we can learn from them.

Bill Oliver has been working in Healthcare for the past 30+ years in a variety of management roles including Material Management, Purchasing, Nurse Registry, and IT. In the past 12 years his focus has been on the business end of IT Contracts, Software Licensing, and IT Purchasing.

See here for all of Bill’s Tom’s IT Pro articles.