back to article State of Maine says Workday has shown 'no accountability' for farcical $56.4m HR upgrade

Maine has accused Workday of showing "no accountability" for its part in a flawed process to replace the US state's HR system. Following a request for an official review into the $54.6m project, the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability has published correspondence that Workday would almost certainly …

  1. Steve K

    Workday Project Manager

    I'd be surprised if Workday's Project Manager had not at least raised some of these concerns internally at least - would be interesting to see the Risks/Issues register!

    It is possible that they were overruled of course on commercial grounds, or maybe overall Project Management was not actually in their scope.

    Given the (published) issues with the previous Infor project, Scope/Requirements control should have been top of Workday's Risk assessment when taking on this project?

    On the Maine side, surely the same level of introspection should have been performed - unless they were just relying on Workday to make it all magically happen?

  2. IGotOut Silver badge

    Government Project...

    Behind schedule and over cost.

    Contact me when this isn't the case.

  3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Who actually "owned" the programme / project plan as a deliverable?

    Commercially, deliverables and the responsibility for the ownership and delivery of them are usually detailed out in the work contract between the two parties.

    The overarching Programme and Project plan is then usually pulled together by the "owner" of the overall plan, from the leads from different workstreams such as Development, Data migration, Testing, Release, Business change etc etc. It is then their responsibility, sometimes with the assistance from a PMO or project support team to pull all of this together into a whole and then validate that (A) it works as an end to end plan, and (B) do all of the disparate teams and stakeholders agree to, and support it.

    So who "owned" the plan?

    Either way though, the PMs from both sides should have been regularly reviewing the plan and raising risks and issues etc if they felt it didn't work.

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Is there any IT multi-million project who gets on schedule, with all functionalities provided and with over cost?

    1. jake Silver badge

      "Is there any IT multi-million project who gets on schedule, with all functionalities provided and with over cost?"

      Most of them. I suspect you meant "without over cost", though.

      Beer? It's 5 o'clock somewhere ...

    2. PRR Bronze badge

      Project on schedule?

      I've been a Mainer for a decade.

      "Is there any {IT} multi-million project who gets on schedule, with all functionalities provided and with over cost?"

      Oddly, there is, non-IT. Maine has trouble funding roads and bridges. But once the money is at hand, most road and bridge projects go BAM, ahead of schedule, no cost over-run. We have state workers who know what goes in a road, and our mega-contractors are super-organized, prepared for storms and surprises, and like to work on early completion bonuses.

      Historically Maine has not had IT folk. A lot of cash-register installers, few system engineers. We don't get immigrants from Boston because Maine salaries look super-low (but the cost of living can be low too). And this is self-perpetuating: Maine has not had a large successful IT project in the memory of most mid-level managers, so nobody knows how it is supposed to be done.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    These days, the idea of accountability seems as quaint as punch cards.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Accountability

      We live in a "QUICK! Find someone else to blame!" world, alas.

  6. fidodogbreath

    The office also found that "project timeline contained inappropriate overlapping phases; exit criteria for various testing phases were not met; training and communication were inadequate; knowledge transfer to [...] staff who will be supporting the product was extremely limited."

    In other words, a successful consulting project. From the consultant's perspective, anyway.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Not really. As a consultant, my job is to get in, do the job well, and get out again ... and hopefully never hear from the client ever again. Failures to communicate (as this undoubtedly is) do nothing but cause ongoing ulcers for all concerned. Intelligent people don't want that.

      Now ask me why I don't work for governments, doctors, or lawyers anymore ...

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        You definitely don't work for any big consultancy firm.

        Or if you do, your days are numbered...

    2. Filippo Silver badge

      Depends on the consultant. My personal philosophy is that I should never charge the customer for my own mistakes - whether in analysis or development or whatever. If it turns out that something I thought would take a week takes two, I do not charge an extra week. If bugs are found years after installation, I fix them for free.

      Sometimes I lose money doing this, but I charge fairly large fees for my sector, so it evens out - however, my customers don't feel cheated by fees accruing for reasons they can't even understand, and I have a strong incentive to make tough-to-break and easy-to-use programs, because my margin lies in getting as few support calls as possible.

      However, I work in industrial automation. I don't think my model could work in the fluffier sectors.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It takes two to tango

    I gather it's quite lonely in the State of Maine.

  8. DS999 Silver badge

    What's worse

    is that despite all these well publicized problems, the state of Iowa committed funding recently for its own Workday implementation.

  9. Stevie


    Maybe a little less focusing on replacing Cobol with the Language Du Jour and a bit more on the Lost Art of Systems Analysis would pull the trick off?

    Couple of years ago I had to listen to some Armed Forces bigwig telling America that the reason soldiers were not being paid was "old-fashioned Cobol systems" when in reality the (four different) Cobol systems in use by each branch of the armed forces were working fine. The problems started when they threw out the Cobol and introduced a new "integrated" system that was supposedly All Things To All Forces but in fact turned out to be No Thing For Any Forces.

    The rules haven't changed just because the jargon has:

    1) There must be a better way of doing it

    2) There was a damn good reason for doing it the way it is now

    3) Leave it the fuck alone - until you *understand* #1 and #2.

    I'm currently helping support a large application which had a new internet-enabled suite added on. Underlying design assumption: All the data needed by the new parts will be there when queried. This data is from a periodic asynchronous load set provided by an independent source over which we have no authority or control. What happens when the data *isn't* there? Headless Chicken Dancing and the dreaded Teams Meetings.

    When did programmers-sorry-software architects stop working from "what happens when this isn't true?"

    If I had provided anything like this as a trainee back before micro computers I'd have had my fingers broken by the Chief programmer.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      AKA If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!

    2. mevets

      Re: Bah!

      They were not completely wrong. If it weren't for the intransigency of the legacy systems, there would be no basis for comparison. The modern slap-dashery would be appear divine, a fully state of the art periodic reporting application.

      This 'crap from the past' hurts modern software development, and needs to be binned asap.

      1. Stevie

        Re: Bah!

        Intransigent legacy system pays deployed soldiers', marines', sailors', aircrews' and coastguards' wives their wages on time, new system has them begging on the streets for change while the kids starve and those responsible make up stupid excuses for their incompetence.

        Know which one I'm rooting for.

        But then, I speak Cobol *and* C-like languages, know about how t code for currency and I am not a git.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Currently onboarding with a firm...

    ...using Workday. I'm already not impressed with the software. Right out of the gate: It only works with Chrome-based browsers. (Have we learned nothing from the "requires IE" days?) The user interface is cryptic. Form B refers to information you entered into Form A... which you can no longer see. At all. Clicking on the "Back" button takes you back to a roadmap that informs you that you've already completed Form A (but doesn't display it). Dragging and dropping multiple files/documents into an area that specifically says "files" (plural) results in only the last document actually being uploaded.

    I'm not surprised that Maine is, um, miffed.

    1. Sam Walsh

      Re: Currently onboarding with a firm...

      Just a quick comment on this. I also work for a company which uses Workday. Workday definitely does not only work with Chrome browser. I routinely use Firefox and Edge, as well as Chrome, and when I'm forced to use a Mac :-) I use Safari. Workday officially supports and certifies all these browsers (plus Opera).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Currently onboarding with a firm...

        And yet my early attempts to get through the onboarding process failed when using Firefox. No... I didn't perform exhaustive testing of all the other browsers available on my (openSUSE) desktop---my preferred browser didn't work and Chromium did the trick. I now have a panel function that I'll use exclusively for Workday and other work-related applications since they all seem to have fallen under the Google Chrome spell.

    2. mevets

      Re: Currently onboarding with a firm...

      I used to tease our network guru -- he designed our p:p networking architecture, and wrote most of the drivers for the various nics -- that the reason they put the word "work" into "network" was because it didn't.

      The Telephone wasn't the TPwork; the hydro (canada) wasn't the LightsWork; the car wasn't the RoadWork.

      Putting "work" into the name is a marketing effort to distract you from the fact that it doesn't.

      My next job interview will contain the question "Will I have to use WorkDay for any facet of my job?" with the b: question of "Are you willing to provide me with somebody who will operate it on my behalf?".

      The b: question is, of course, a trick. Any company that would hire somebody to do such a thing is not a company you should work for.

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