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Ford kills major Oracle inititiave

Almost 5 years in the making with millions and millions spent, and they are dumping an entire procurement project and going back to what they had in place.

I'm sure this was due to a lot more than any perceived problems in Oracle, but wouldn't just love to know the real reasons the project was scrapped?

http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/software/story/0,10801,95335,00.html?from=homeheads

Stalin
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Divisional politics.  I'll be willing to bet it went something like this, which will never see the light of day:  The technical people built a brilliant system with outstanding audit capabilities which caught all of the previous accounting and inventory mistakes of the various business managers over the past year or more.  As data was migrated, huge discrepancies were found in numbers that could spell a permanent vacation for a few middle-to-upper managers.  An internal campaign to paint the new system as unreliable and full of data discrepancies (which were there in the old system, only silent due to lackluster auditing, subpar reporting, whatever), and the whole project, after many many emergency committee meetings and vicious discussion (including many personal attacks both at the table and via email), was scrapped as a failure.

muppet
Thursday, August 19, 2004

The reasons won't really matter much to Oracle -- they got their licensing $$ up front.  It's yet another failed 11i Financials implementation.  At least Ford won't be giving this failed implementation as a reason for declining profits, like Agilent and a few other companies did.

throwthebumsout
Thursday, August 19, 2004

What major technology company has had all it's projects turn into burgeoning success stories?  SAP, Microsoft, Sun, IBM, who?

Not sure why this is newsworthy, it happens frequently with many technologies and vendors thereof.

Mike
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Mainframes forever.

Guillermo
Thursday, August 19, 2004

"Mainframes forever."

UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG

PLLLLEEEEAASSSEEEEE NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Genx'er
Thursday, August 19, 2004

"Divisional politics. "

I am in Dearborn and you are close. :-)

Raju Patel
Thursday, August 19, 2004



Haha.  A few months ago I completed a *very simple* RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) Tracking System and in a matter of days, certain managers were getting ticked.


It seems that for some of our vendors, one of our people would buy something, keep it for a while, and then return it without requesting a refund.  Therefore, there was a valid purchase order in the system and a valid shipping receipt... and the trail goes nowhere.

There was *no evidence* that people were purposefully scamming the system, but one could easily believe that the vendor was selling the item a second time and giving kickbacks....

KC
Thursday, August 19, 2004

This project likely failed for the same reason that throwing code out and rewriting from scratch usually fails - it's extremely difficult to wholesale replace a system, either in the software world, or in the system world. There have been countless examples of multi-million dollar all-new-and-shiny systems turning into massive failures.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Dennis -

I'd be willing to bet that many of them failed for a similiar scenario to the one I described above.  Management doesn't like sophisticated systems that catch them tripping up and/or playing the old system.

muppet
Thursday, August 19, 2004

KC, that sounds like a system I encountered at a previous company, where I found that one of the midsized customers was stealing about $1k per month.

What is happening at the place that is returning goods without getting a refund, it is quite possible that one or more of the employees there are/were embezzling: they return the item, get a refund check, and cash the refund check out of petty cash (you would have to be an accountant at the place to get away with it). The books balance, because the check would be written to the company, and the books would balance. If you are still at this place, try to investigate whether there are a number of "mis-written" checks where digits get transposed. Invoice is for $890.00, check gets "mis-written" for $980.00. Accountant asks for refund check, gets a check for $90.00. Accountant endorses check and places in petty cash drawer, while extracting $90 from drawer (so petty cash is reconciled). Repeat once or twice every week for a decent pay raise. Look for someone who never takes vacations. There is an out of print book called "sticky fingers" which describes this and several other methods, and how to catch them. Come to think of it, there are very few books about how to catch embezzlers, which may have something to do with why there are so many embezzlers.

How the customer was stealing $1k per month:
Each week, they would order 4 "exchange" radios (so that the customer could drive up, get theirs swapped for a rebuilt one and then leave), and then send 3 of them back, one per week. Since the existing system was paper, they had 3 UPS tracking numbers and could game the system by claiming (to the person who called up asking when it was coming back) that they shipped it and here is the UPS tracking # (the other paperwork had been filed, so it was out of sight, out of mind). They would keep about 4 radios per month, with a wholesale value ranging from $200-$500. I caught them by spending 6 hours one day, tracking down all the paperwork in the filing cabinet and reconciling what I could reconstruct. As it was a small, family run business, the owner got all kinds of enraged because my detective work showed his system was flawed (and in his eyes, if his system was flawed, so was he, therefore he could not admit that there was a problem).  Based on his profit margins for that product line, he needed $250,000 in annual sales to make up for the $15,000 being stolen annually by that "customer."

Peter
Thursday, August 19, 2004

"There have been countless examples of multi-million dollar all-new-and-shiny systems turning into massive failures"

Auto industry is full of it. And what a mess FORD is!

I would work (IT) for Japanese OEM anyday compare to comapnies like Ford and Chrysler.

Raju Patel
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Peter's story is why I maintain that the whole security clearance/background check miasma is pure and utter BS. You *cannot* tell who will be honest by looking at them. You do a cursory check for silly things like huge gambling debts or "former Enron Executive", but pretty much you trust anyone that looks trustworthy on the surface.

The trick, the hard part, the thing that requires work is that then you MONITOR THEM. It still baffles me that Aldritch Ames was caught because someone had the bright idea of running a credit check on him while he was working there. Anyone with a security clearance should have credit checks run on them quarterly, and if debt is being either run up quickly or it's being paid off faster than the reported income provides for, it's time for internal investigation to take a closer look.

Related note: when the Air Force discovered that 90% of travel fraud was detected via audit, they trashed their byzantine travel regulations, saving some millions of dollars per year, and put some of the savings into hiring more auditors. The Auditor General of the Navy during the '90's had a standing offer to the Secretary of the Navy to run on a zero budget if he could keep 10% of all assets recovered by audit. This would've increased his operating budget tenfold. Instead, the Navy continued to simply cut his budget.

Trust, but verify.

</soapbox>

Philo

Philo
Thursday, August 19, 2004

+++Anyone with a security clearance should have credit checks run on them quarterly+++

do you know what quarterly credit inquiries will do to your report?  ugh.

muppet
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Oh, another war story, this time from GM. This story made the rounds when I worked for a division of GM in the mid to late 1980s.

Time: early 1980s. Consultants are building an expensive warranty data mining system (back when data mining was still a subject for PhD, and nothing was commercially available). Well, one of the specs was for it to accept "natural language" queries.

During the acceptance trials, one crotchety old geezer, who hated the project and wanted it to fail, told the person at the keyboard to type in the following query "how many convertibles have had their roof repainted?" Repainting parts of the car while it is under warranty is reasonably common. Especially back in the early 1980s. And most claims auditors couldn't identify a convertible from a hardtop by looking at the VIN (vehicle identification number, the 17 digit serial number for your car, look at the top of the dash, thru the window, when you get into your car tonight). Story goes, everyone told the guy to lighten up, but they typed it in anyway, and pages of VINs came out. Supposedly it uncovered enough fraud from that one question to pay for the system.

Peter
Thursday, August 19, 2004

"do you know what quarterly credit inquiries will do to your report?  ugh. "

Actually there are certain credit inquiries that don't count against your score (frx, when you check your own). It would be trivial for the US Gov't to simply notify the credit agencies that checks by "US Treasury" shouldn't count against the score.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Ah, now you're thinking like a Microsoft guy.  It would be trivial for the US government to tell the credit reporting agencies what to do, without any supporting legislation or authority to do so.  :)

muppet
Thursday, August 19, 2004

I didn't mean "tell" as in "direct" - I meant "tell" as in "inform"

Credit reporting agencies actually want their scores to be reliable to some degree. They have absolutely zero interest in destroying the credit scores of every civil servant through an administrative oversight.

US Gov't: "FYI, we're going to be auditing the records of our employees at random for security purposes."
Credit agency: "Thanks, we'll update our scoring schema to disregard inquiries from the Treasury Dept"

FWIW, there's a very real problem with my plan, which you missed. Can you spot it?

Philo

Philo
Thursday, August 19, 2004

> FWIW, there's a very real problem with my plan, which you missed. Can you spot it?


The government will indirectly be reporting employees with security clearance to credit agencies. Or they'll have to constantly be running bogus credit checks on random noncleared employees.

  -tim

a2800276
Friday, August 20, 2004

hahahahaha

4 years in production and now they stop?

I guess the one year that I am on isn't so bad after all.
Push all the idiots and politics aside and run a company completly by CS majors and mathematicians and everything will be ok....wait a minute isn't that Google ?

Then again HR would have to learn math :(

Jon
Friday, August 20, 2004

It also doesn't help that many of the hundreds of new companies offering background checks are incompetant.
http://www.csoonline.com/read/080104/checks.html

Peter
Saturday, August 21, 2004

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