Craig A. Conway
President and Chief Executive Officer
PeopleSoft Corporate Headquarters
Dear President Conway,
On September 12-13, 1999, senior administrators from eight of the Big
Ten institutions met in Indianapolis under the auspices of the
Consortium for Institutional Cooperation (CIC) to discuss our common experience with PeopleSoft. The CIC is a formal group
established by the members of the Big Ten to find ways to work together and to solve common problems. We would bring to your
attention a number of their conclusions, which are of great concern to us. Let us say from the outset, however, that our group continues
to endorse PeopleSoft as the best vendor to meet our business requirements. Concomitantly, for us to succeed, PeopleSoft needs to
succeed and vice versa. It is in that spirit that we are writing this letter.
We recognize that we are but eight schools among the hundreds of schools
that have contracted with you. At the same time, we believe
that our institutions are viewed as leaders among public and private institutions in our region and nationally. They look at us to see how
PeopleSoft is working, and, in turn, our experience informs their decisions about whether or not PS is a viable product and vendor.
Also, our collective size means that PeopleSoft products have an enormous impact on a significant proportion of the faculty and
students who are served by your systems. Our institutions represent approximately 1,600 departments and 250 colleges; many of them
ranked among the top ten nationally. We have approximately 35,000 faculty and well over half a million students. As a consequence,
problems with PeopleSoft escalate quickly and dramatically. The more significant ones are as follows:
First and foremost is performance. The performance of the systems, in
terms of responsiveness, is simply unacceptable. We know that
you are aware of this but we need a solution soon. The performance is especially poor on large batch programs such as tuition
calculation, which for some of us ran for six days. The message agent is too slow and doesn't behave as a true API. Interactive panel
performance is extremely poor, especially when numerous panels may be required for a single function. Our students, faculty, and staff
have come to expect subsecond response. This is not our expectation now but some transactions take minutes to execute.
Software quality is another major problem. There are too many bugs and
patches breaking other parts of the system. Packaging, new
releases and fixes are not well tested and poorly deployed. Documentation is inadequate or non-existent. We are spending an
enormous amount of time and money simply getting the software ready to work at our schools. And as a consequence, we are missing
business events and/or having to put in place expensive contingencies and workarounds that inevitably leave our customers and staff
unhappy with PeopleSoft.
Many of us work in multicampus environments, and this needs to be better
addressed by PeopleSoft. Our professional schools are not
well served at this time by the functionality in the student software.
We are eager to work with you to solve many of these problems and have
begun to create multi-institution-working groups with that
purpose in mind. For example, we would like to provide you with a large database so that you can test your product as it works in our
very complex environment. All of us use Oracle and it would be very helpful to have the software systems tested centrally against
Oracle prior to shipment rather than us having to reinvent the wheel eight times in the Midwest. We have begun collectively to scope the
requirements of the professional schools. We will cooperatively build some modules to address common needs. We would be happy to
provide PeopleSoft with the modules with the hope that you would build them into future releases, to our collective benefit.
Looking forward, we would like significant input in setting future priorities,
as we believe it will lead to less customization and easier and
less costly upgrades. For examples, how LDAP based authentication works will be extremely critical especially as many of us will be
authorizing 40,000 plus students, the entire faculty and staff within the SA, HR and financial systems. Software is being purchased in
support of instructional technology, e.g., WebCT and Blackboard. How these will work in our environment are major issues for us.
Web strategies and the service paradigm that underpins Web based services are key to future customer satisfaction. An open, granular
component-based API is crucial, so that Web front-ends and other products can integrate more easily and perform better.
We look forward to hearing from you on how these matters can and will
be addressed. We also look forward to [a] long and
productive working relationship with PeopleSoft. Our staff and we are ready to meet with you at any time to resolve these very
important issues. We would ask that PeopleSoft assign a contact person for the CIC to work with on these issues, and to assist with
the creation of a join action plan for working together to address them.
Robert H. Bruininks
Executive Vice President & Provost
University of Minnesota
Lawrence B. Dumas
Edward J. Ray
Executive Vice President & Provost
The Ohio State University
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
The University of Michigan
Vice President for Information Technology and CIO
The University of Iowa