In January 2007, the Los Angeles Unified
School District implemented a new payroll system that immediately adversely
affected thousands of teachers and employees.
Some teachers and employees did not get their paychecks, others were
under paid, some were overpaid, and some were not even in the system. “For weeks and, in many cases, months,
thousands of LAUSD employees struggled to get their pay problems resolved” (as
cited in System Failure, 2008).
Deloitte Consulting was the organization
that was hired to replace the outdated payroll technology and streamline a new
payroll system. According to Bowers (2009),
“But it was doomed from day one, done in by technology glitches, inaccurate and
often conflicting data from the old system, inadequate employee training, and
infighting and lack of internal oversight with the district, among other
This project was plagued with organization
issues related to information technology.
The project lacked a high-level executive with IT experience dedicated
to the project. The original point
person was a COO with little computer experience (Rafter, 2008). Even the district’s CIO was involved but quit
after disagreeing about the project’s direction. There was still confusion about who was in
charge when the CFO stepped in.
“Dysfunctional management and internal power struggles allowed the
project to go forward with no one fully in charge and hampered the district’s
ability to mount an effective response when serious problems arose” (Rubin,
The originally planned final phase of the
project was never completed. The cost of
repairs and delays topped $35 million. The school district had many other
issues before this that contributed to the confusion, inadequacy, and
unorganized management within the schools.
There were numerous testimonies and statements made concerning the
fallout of the project.
In this situation, there were multiple
stakeholders in the project. Deloitte
Consulting was hired to customize the SAP software which was intended to
replace the outdated payroll system and technology. The school teacher whose either didn’t get
paid, was underpaid, or overpaid. Some
school teachers had to take out loans to stay afloat and others had to borrow
from family and friends. This also
affected the school staff such as principals, custodian, bus drivers, and front
desk staff. The District Superintendent,
David L. Brewer, was in charge when the system came online. When the teachers were struggling and not getting
paid, the impression was that he was uncaring about his unpaid employees because
he was more concerned with the percentage of error in the project. A.J. Duffy was the President of the United
Teachers of Los Angeles. He advocated for
the teachers and struggled with the school district to get his teachers paid.
In December 2008, the
school had a settlement of $8.25 million and forgive $7 million to $10 million
in unpaid invoices from the contractor who installed the system. In the beginning, the contractor chose a
three-phase technology upgrade. This was
going to be difficult since there was known problems that were apparent in the
beginning. There were internal clashes
about the project and it was not clearly known who was in charge. “A clash within the district’s highest ranks
complicated things even more” (Rubin, 2008).
In the end, the teacher and school employees were the one’s who suffered
and endured the months of frustrations with the project.
When it comes to projects concerning any
aspect if Information Technology, it is best to have someone who has the experience
necessary to be dedicated to the task. Communication
and organizational politics should be in the best interest of the project realm.
There are multiple responsibilities that
need to be evaluated and organizational hierarchy that need to be considered and
established before taking on such a project.