UN agency retires legacy systems, turns to Oracle ERP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has undertaken a US$59 million rollout of PeopleSoft applications in 145 countries to try to modernize how it does business.

The New York-based UNDP fights poverty and diseases such as AIDS and helps stricken countries such as those affected by the last December's tsunami in Southeast Asia emerge from crises. To help modernize its technology platform globally, the agency is now running Oracle Corp.'s PeopleSoft 8 Enterprise Human Capital Management and Enterprise Financial Management and portal applications, said Jens Wandel, project director for the Center for Business Solutions at UNDP.

Oracle acquired PeopleSoft and its products in a takeover last year.

Wandel said the UNDP's processes were in the past supported by a hodgepodge of homegrown legacy systems, including 21 separate human resources, payroll and procurement applications. That prompted the UNDP in 2002 to choose a single centralized system, which is hosted and managed by Unisys.

Some 8,500 end users tap into the PeopleSoft software, with as many as 1,800 concurrent users working with the software at times, Wandel said. Web-based training was a key to getting the users up to speed, and each office was required to evaluate how well it was adopting the new system.

The PeopleSoft system, which went live in January 2004, continues to be extended and stabilized and required extensive training and process re-engineering. "Modernizing development is something we work at every day," Wandel said. "It continues to be a challenge for us to bring the same level of professional standards through the world."

Some of the UNDP's offices are in technology starved nations or in countries such as Sudan that are in crisis zones. But because the PeopleSoft system is centrally hosted and Web accessible around the clock, the agency's four Sudan offices can collaborate and share data, as well as perform human resources and financial management operations. Before the rollout began, collaboration was impossible because of the large distances between offices and a reliance on paper or fax-based systems.

Among the benefits for the UNDP is the ability to operate on a common set of data. Additionally, all employee information -- including language certifications, visa status and personnel data -- can be accessed from a single human resources repository, instead of 145. The new finance system also assists in complying with international accounting standards and can factor in multiple currencies.

As part of the continuing rollout, the UNDP in September started to go live with PeopleSoft e-Procurement, and the deployment is slated to continue into 2006.

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