Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

PeopleSoft Sucks: Why Enterprise software creates more problems than it solves

Posted in Computers & Technology,Cornell University,WTF by Elliott Back on September 9th, 2008.

I came across PeopleSoft Hinders Review of Aid Applications, an article describing how my Alma Mater’s implementation of Peoplesoft is causing delays in processing financial aid applications, which contains an amazing quote:

12 days after classes started, about 750 students’ financial aid applications are still being processed due to complications from the implementation of PeopleSoft. PeopleSoft replaced JustTheFacts software and now manages students’ personal, academic, bursar and financial aid information.

“The PeopleSoft system is much more labor-intensive than our previous financial system,” stated Davis. “We estimate that it takes three to four times longer to review and process a financial aid application in PeopleSoft than it did in our former financial aid system.”

Well, “This can’t be that bad,” I thought and headed over to the student management system to check it out for myself. Then, I got hit by an ancient-looking ugly, non-functional GUI:


Clicking on any of the links that might interest me (grades, transcripts, etc) led me to the following “nice pages”:

The back/forward buttons don’t work

Whoah, where did this come from?

Another random error

Yep, Peoplesoft definitely sucks. And, I don’t blame Cornell for it–except for making the original bad decision to migrate from a working, if not archaic, system. Nay, I blame Peoplesoft (recently rebranded as Oracle Peoplesoft. Here’s some juicy quotes from other IT professionals:

  • “It’s a horribly designed piece of crap. They don’t use referential integrity *and* they duplicate data all over the place in the database. Their UI is like something out of Windows 1.0 days.” – Joel on Software
  • “It is the single worst example of web-based software I have ever seen. Ever.” – Jason
  • “It’s web browsing in the 19th century. Lots of backing up and clunky navigation menus laden with far too much non-intuitive information.” – Dee-Rob
  • “the syntax, which seemed arcane at best and totally unusable at worst” – John

A cute Facebook group, Cornell must be held accountable for Peoplesoft issues, and another Cornell story, New CoursEnroll Software Causes Distress, Difficulties, explains how the initial rollout was also fraught with difficulties:

Yeh said that although the system was marked by a number of problems, nearly 3,200 students out of the approximately 3,700 who needed to enroll were able to do so successfully. Course requests that were not approved before the system went down were entered into the system automatically.

[T]he preparation for the replacement began back in 1995 when Cornell administrators began watching how other schools used PeopleSoft. Cornell and company began to develop the new program together. Yeh did not know how expensive the program was to develop.

The moral of the story? Sometimes rolling your own software is better than buying and adapting. Especially for giant applications.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 at 8:27 pm and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

14 Responses to “PeopleSoft Sucks: Why Enterprise software creates more problems than it solves”

  1. Kelsey says:

    PeopleSoft is used for a ridiculous amount of online job applications, and it is LITERALLY the single most infuriating thing EVER. It won’t recognize my login information EVER,- it has only worked once in YEARS no matter how many times I make a new account- it won’t send me the reset email, it logs me out every 30 minutes but for most of these applications, that is not enough time to finish most applications, especially since this software takes so much more time to do anything than anything else!!! The worst thing is how it won’t allow me to sign in and won’t let me resolve that problem, so I have to restart every time. Not to mention how ridiculously confusing every other bit of using it is- even when it’s “working.” I don’t want to say PeopleSoft is the devil, but… Well, it’s as close as a piece of software can get.
    I can not use strong enough language to describe how horrible and incompetent this software is. It should not exist. The fact that so many businesses use it is mind-blowing. In trying to understand how in the world it is possible for PeopleSoft to be so popularly used despite its gross inadequacies, the only thing I have come up with is that it must be some sort of conspiracy involving some very powerful but either incompetent or evil people. Or, perhaps the Illuminati.
    Every thought I have about PeopleSoft boils down to- it should burn in a hole.

  2. Joel Shore says:

    Well, if the goal of PeopleSoft is to be a useful piece of software then it has failed miserably, but if the goal is to make lots of money for the CEO of Oracle, then it is working like a charm: www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-30/oracle-s-ellison-highest-paid-chief-as-ceo-pay-gains-nyt-says.html He was the highest paid CEO last year!

    You know are economic system isn’t working when people who arguably should be in jail for defrauding their customers are instead getting paid about as much per hour as many of us earn in a year!

  3. Michal says:

    Wow, every problem I have had including wanting to rip my own brain out while using People Soft is stated here. Utterly amazing this software is so universally hated. I go through intermittent periods of either wanting to murder someone/thing and throwing up my hands in exasperation. Takes three times as long to do absolutely anything. The random twitchiness of various error messages makes me grit my teeth. And this thing cost millions of $$$?! What a waste of time, money, people.

  4. Helen Barker says:

    The worst UI I have seen since the 80s. In fact, it LOOKS like a 1980s UI. No context-sensitive help, menus that force one to flip back and forth among menus and from side to side, navigation that is counter-intuitive. Why does anyone put up with this ****?

  5. AnthonyM says:

    Nothing has improved since 2008. After we transitioned to Pieceof Sh*t 2 years ago, processes that we used to run daily can only be run weekly due to the amount of manual input required for each.

  6. earl says:

    Yes, I agree people soft sucks.. I work at the olive garden and they use it, all its good for is too check my schedule.. but most of the time when I login it redirects me to a page saying.. please wait while checking for unread messages.. then takes me to the peoplesoft login saying incorrect password.. stupid.

  7. shane says:

    Truly horrible. I’ve worked for two schools that have made the disastrous switch, and yet have not spoken to a single person that thinks it is a decent program. Why do schools keep switching to this? Average work process requires THREE TIMES as many keystrokes to complete. The schools even let people soft dictate new policies. “Change your ID #’s. We won’t change our crappy code.”

  8. Julien says:

    Peoplesoft is the most outdated, antiquated system I’ve ever had to learn. This program broke financially the company I worked for. How it duplicated so much data and yet managed to actually create a need and demand for purchases that did not exist is still beyond my understanding.

  9. Tabitha says:

    Peoplesoft is a horrible program and the people running it are incredibly slow with their processing…

  10. James says:

    ps. I didn’t get the error (see error 1 in above post) on this website when i pressed back!!! Oh well you can’t win them all!

  11. James says:

    The first “error” is typical of any internet based architecture. The same thing happens when you press back after submitting information to a website. It might even happen if I press the back button after submitting this comment! Navigation with browser buttons is not recommended with PSoft. The interface should be built to avoid this (ie. back links on the peolesoft screens).

    The 2nd “error” looks to me like the 30 minute automatic sign out.

    The 3rd “error” happens when you open several peoplesoft windows at the same time and then navigate to a different page in one of the other windows.

    Remember the system is only as good as the technical/functional specifications and the team that programmed it.

  12. bytesync says:

    It is also being forced upon governement contractors and there are lots of people in denial about it's suckiness….lots of data no info.

  13. Der&k says:

    I have suffered my way through using People Soft for the past year. It pretty much rips my brain apart every time I login.

  14. Rob says:

    So funny you bring this up. Was just bantering with my colleagues about how backwards this software is (my graduate school uses it). It really wouldn’t take much to develop a competitive product. Thanks for bringing it up.

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