Troubled ERP Upgrades Gets $2M More, Supervisors seek a new vendor to complete third phase

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has approved up to $2 million in additional funding to get a long-awaited software upgrade moving again.

The county has been trying to upgrade the software since 2011, but the third and final phase of the project has hit a lot of problems. Now the county will have to get a different firm to go back and re-implement the second phase.

Loudoun supervisors in November of 2011 approved a contract up to $21.1 million to implement Oracle eBusiness Suite, a set of programs meant to handle everything from payroll to mass appraisals to tax billing across both the county and public schools. The programs are collectively known as Enterprise Resource Planning software, or the ERP system. The previous suite of software is more than 20 years old.

In December 2013, the board earmarked another $9.2 million for an ERP Implementation Fund in the county capital project budget. Then, in December 2015, the board appropriated $1.5 million more for the project. This, a staff report notes, did not include future project management, consulting, and technical support expenses.

According to Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), the $2 million comes from unallocated funds already in the project budget. Up to this point, the work has been done by Applications Software Technology Corporation, but in March the county staff announced that the project was on hold and that the county held AST to be in breach of contract for failing to deliver. The third phase of the contract has missed three go-live dates. According to staff reports, in October 2015, Oracle Consulting and Sales found the software built so far has “overly complex and unnecessary configurations.”

Now the county will seek out another vendor to complete the third phase of the project.

“We are continuing to discuss with AST their involvement with the Project,” Letourneau wrote in an email. “It is anticipated that these discussions will conclude in the next few weeks. There is another more substantial phase remaining for the reimplementation and it is anticipated that there will be finality regarding AST’s involvement before the second phase begins in August.

“The reimplementation will resolve the issues and challenges from the initial implementation.”

That will leave only phase two yet to complete. That is the one giving the county and its contractor problems. It covers human resources, such as payroll.

Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) emphasized that the county is not revisiting any part of the software suite that is already operational.

“I will say that I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re very close to having a settlement,” he said. “But that said, we have to move on with getting phase two done. We can’t just sit here and not get it done.”

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