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LAUSD INFORMATION

TECHNOLOGY CONCERNS:
A Report to the
BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
Thomas A. Rubin, BOC Consultant
October 30, 2014
IT PROJECTS A HISTORY OF PROBLEMS
There has been a long history of problems with
major Information Technology (IT) systems at
LAUSD, including:
Payroll
Financial
MiSiS
These problems have included:
Failure to complete non-IT changes to processes
Incomplete design, missing features
Not getting stakeholder buy-in
Insufficient training
Systems not ready when roll out commenced
THIS IS A LAUSD PROBLEM
NOT AN ITD PROBLEM
While Information Technology Division (ITD), and
other organizational sub-divisions, are certainly not
without fault in many of the issues that will be
discussed, the basic underlying issues are systemic
to the way that things are done at LAUSD
There are many very fine, hard-working people in
ITD, and in other departments, that have been
working their tails off to make these systems
succeed and who have done quite a bit of good
but it is the LAUSD system that has failed
THIS IS A LAUSD PROBLEM
NOT AN ITD PROBLEM II
While many important improvements are certainly
possible and necessary without addressing the
larger issues, they will be limited in value added
until the main problems are recognized and the
necessity for changes in the long-standing ways of
doing business is understood and major actions
taken
In this, the IT/systems implementation issues of
LAUSD are very similar to many other LAUSD issues

ORGANIZATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS
OF THE IMPORTANCE OF IT TO THE
LAUSD MISSION
In any organization in this day and age, and
particularly one where the availability for data is so
vital to the mission of the organization, IT has to be
of prime importance and recognized and treated
as such
This is simply not the case at LAUSD too many key
people have little knowledge, or interest, and do
not wish to change their beliefs and ways of
working
TABLE OF ORGANIZATION
The organization of departments, functions, and
responsibilities is of great importance to being able
to make meaningful improvements
However, how the lines and boxes are arranged is
far less important than who is put in the boxes
and how those in the boxes work together
The way that the long-standing LAUSD practice of
siloization managers and departments just not
working together to identify, understand, and
resolve issues has an even greater impact on IT
than most other LAUSD activities
BUDGET
The LAUSD IT budget is grossly insufficient for the
requirements of an organization as large, complex, and
specialized as LAUSD
In full recognition of the major and continual fiscal
issues facing the District, the failure to properly fund,
and to operate, the IT function is extremely costly:
Projects that cost too much, do too little, are not completed
on time, and do not meet user needs
Wasted time in false starts and major implementation
disasters, and doing things manually that be done by the IT
systems if they need to be done at all
Users do not have the information they need to do their jobs
to best serve the students, and their families

STAFFING I
LAUSD needs the best IT personnel to do what it
needs to do and is often not salary-competitive
Like for many FSD positions, and unlike the vast
majority of District positions, most IT positions at
LAUSD are not at all tied to K-12 or government
and are far more mobile
While compensation is obviously important for the
District to be able to attract and retain the type of
people it needs, there are many other issues
working conditions, interesting work, hours, training
and certification opportunities, and being respected
STAFFING II
In IT functions, turnover is not only going to occur,
but is actually desirable things change occur so
quickly in IT, best practice is to have people with
experience in how things are done in other places
IT projects must have long-term permanent staff
from user departments; such as teachers,
principals, engineers, and accountants just as war
is to important to be left to the generals, IT is too
important to be left to the IT staff alone and these
seconded personnel need to be the best and the
brightest

BUSINESS PROCESS REENGINEERING
In proper implementation of Enterprise Resource
Management (ERP), the foundation is Business
Process Reengineering (BRP) which means
researching everything that the entity does to
determine what is being done that is necessary,
what isnt, and what should be done that isnt
Next question, what is the best way to get it done
the best in the world
Without this type of outside-the-box thinking, what
can result is a way to do the same old things a lot
faster, rather than raising institutional performance
BUSINESS PROCESS REENGINEERING II
The District is so tied to the old ways of doing things
that proper ERP is just not done properly
Example: Classic three-way match to pay bills:
contract/purchase order vs. goods receipt vs.
invoice in order for a bill to be paid, the terms,
prices, and quantities from these three documents
are matched
No one does this any more; there is simply no need;
but, my bill doesnt get paid until a goods receipt
for professional services is entered into the
system total waste of effort for no purpose
TIME/DIME/SHINE
IT project schedules (time), budgets (dime), and
features (shine) must be realistic and consistent
Any change to any one of these will generally have
an opposite impact on one or both of the others
Budgets must realistically reflect the additional load
on the user departments during the design,
changeover, and start-up process
Analysis of long-term impacts on user department
staffing and budget should be performed as a part
of benefit/cost analysis for project and actual
results against projection tracked
PARALLEL RUN
For systems that handle large numbers of
transactions during a period to produce specific
outputs, it is absolutely essential that the identical
transactions be run through both the old and new
IT systems by the users and the results matched up
this is the only way to ensure that the new system
is matching the workings of the old
If outcomes dont match, the reasons for the
differences must be carefully researched to
determine why and corrections made prior to the
new system going live
PARALLEL RUN II
Most information systems of this type should go live at
a key point in the business cycle
Payroll: for the first paycheck in a new calendar year
Financial: beginning of the fiscal year
Student data: beginning of school year
The District did not do a parallel run for the infamous
Payroll system changeover, which was one of the direct
causes of the disaster
But, the reason for not doing a parallel run on the
Payroll system was it would have cost $5 million
$5 million is a tiny fraction of the costs financial,
wasted employee time, ill will, reputation to the
District of trying to recover from the problems
PARALLEL RUN III
LAUSD also did not have a sufficient parallel run for
MiSiS
There is almost always intense pressure to get these
new systems up and running on the anticipated date,
because not doing so leads to major extra costs, delays
in getting the new systems up, and missing important
deadlines
Project team members who have invested months or
years to the project simply do not want to think about
delay which, to them, means failure
This makes not going ahead very difficult but, there
are times where there are no other good options
SYSTEM FEATURES
One of the main reasons for going to all the cost,
work, and trouble of designing and installing new IT
systems is to improve the capabilities of the system:
Doing things faster
Doing things with less effort
Increasing accuracy
Meeting new requirements
Doing valuable things that were never previously
possible
However, the District has failed to take advantage of
many opportunities to improve such capacities
SYSTEM FEATURES II
There have always been differences in requirements
from the general financial systems of LAUSD and
what FSD needs to manage a construction program
One of the biggest is the period of reporting:
Most transactions in a governmental entity are on a
fiscal year basis and recorded, and reported, as such
However, FSD bond-funded projects are rarely on a fiscal
year basis, or are completed within a single fiscal year
what is needed are:
Project life reports, which can extend over two, three or more
years
Program reports, such as Proposition BB 17 years & counting


SYSTEM FEATURES III
Unfortunately, the Districts new financial system is
not capable of fully handling project/program life-
to-date record keeping and reporting which not
only required the creation of a separate system to
retain and utilize the pre-July 1, 2013 data needed
for bond and project reporting, but was part of the
reason why there was only very limited reporting
available for many months
Facility Services Divisions attempts to get
significant changes to the system to both support its
needs, and to better support the Superintendents
objectives, were unsuccessful
SYSTEM FEATURES IV
The lack of other features, and changes to support
what FSD needs to do its job and to survive audits
has led to quite time-consuming detail work, done
manually, rather than automatically
This is a tremendous drain on scarce financial and
program/project management human resources
We have consistently seen the high-powered
reporting left to the end of the implementation
and then, often, cancelled due to lack of funding to
finish to the implementation

DATA CONVERSION
One of the most difficult, expensive, time-
consuming, and frustrating elements of any new IT
system is converting the data from the old system
to be usable by the new system
Besides the usual format changes, the real
problems tend to be:
Requirements to add data elements not previously
utilized to make the new systems work
Errors in the old data
Work-arounds to allow the old system to work that
cause the new system to crash
DATA CONVERSION II
It is exceedingly difficult to determine how much
work this will be until the process actually begins
and, even then, it is something that is very easy for
project senior management to underestimate
This frequently leads to underestimation of the
staffing, technical assistance, workload (on top of
other requirements), and sufficient time to do it
This burden falls most heavily on the grass roots
personnel, both in schools and the central office,
who deal with detail data entry and reports and
frequently have many other assigned daily duties

USER BUY-IN
The people in the field who enter the data into
systems and get the outputs should not be thought
of as users but as the owners
The only way to do this is to have them part of the
entire project from the word, go, starting with the
statement of needs and continuing through design,
implementation, and training
Obviously, not all can be directly involved, but there
must be representatives full-time representatives
from the various communities on the team from
start to finish only they have credibility with peers
TRAINING
In IT applications with thousands of users, inputting
data and getting back reports, training must be well
structured, comprehensive, start early and
continue until the system is up and running well,
and then continually for new staff and for system
upgrades
Procedures must be documented in easily
accessible handbooks, preferably on-line, that can
walk users through, step-by-step
TRAINING II
Training is not optional any school or department
that does not send its personnel must be contacted
immediately to correct this failure
Where there are difficulties in freeing personnel for
essential training, substitutes must be provided
Training is expensive (the only thing more expensive
is not doing the necessary training) and the budget
must reflect these costs

SUPPORT
Users must have support available and enough of
it through appropriate means, varying by the
specific systems and needs:
Manuals and systems documentation, easily usable by
people without technical background and experience
Call-in help desks fully and properly staffed
e-mail/chat rooms
On-site support
The District needs, and will continue to need, more
support personnel at all levels, particularly on
campus for support of teacher academic systems
WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP?
Convene a panel of external experts on large
governmental agencies, IT systems, and change
management to oversee and advise
Engage a consultant firm expert in this field to study
the LAUSD experience and advise on specifics
Be prepared to consider massive changes in the
LAUSD way of doing things, up to and including
changing ITD to a contracted enterprise
CONSIDER ORGANIZATION CHANGES
Board of Education IT Committee
High-level IT advisory committee made up of
external experts to help it structure, and validate,
approaches to high-level concerns
Existing Executive Governance Committee duties,
rolls, how to maintain and strengthen
For major projects and/or systems, similar high-
level committees, with subcommittees as needed
Chief Information Officer (CIO) to report to the
Superintendent just as the Chief Facilities
Executive does, and for the same reasons
THIS WILL NOT BE CHEAP But It Will Be
Much Less Expensive Than Not Doing It
If this is done properly, there will be massive return
on investment in many ways:
Improved educational outcomes
Lower operating costs
Improved information for decisions-making
Superior measurement of success
If this is not done, or not done properly, there will
be huge costs and the most significant will be the
failure to provide the best educational outcome for
our students
THIS WILL NOT BE CHEAP II
This will involve massive review of District
operations and costs in a manner unlike any prior
planning/budgeting activity
There will be higher costs in the short run, while
changes are made prior to improvements producing
value in the form of superior outcomes for users
There will be problems, major ones, with
organizational ones being the most challenging
This can only be approached through a community
of stakeholders working together with grass-roots
employees being the most important