“Will heads roll? That is not the issue here”

MUSL timetables: chaos at Law, UCM postpones start of the programme

03-09-2009

University College postponed the start of its study programme by a week. The Faculty of Law did not, but it was chaos there at the beginning of this week. At least 250 concerned students showed up for the special timetable consultation on Tuesday morning. All because of the new automation software system MUSL.

Could this have been prevented? Or are timetable problems, as well as registration issues and other major and minor calamities, as rector Gerard Mols suggests, inherent to such a complex ICT project? Who is responsible for the damage to the university's reputation? Will there be insurance claims? Does SAP (the system that was purchased) work as it should? Mols, who visited many of the education offices during the past few days, wants answers to these questions and has ordered a thorough evaluation in the next few months. “This analysis will be made, but at the moment it is all hands on deck, to solve all the problems that students still have and to make sure that the schedules for the second block run smoothly. Will heads roll? That is not the issue here.”

Project leader René Verspeek feels that there was no need to postpone MUSL, despite all these calamities. “Of course I don’t know what will happen next week, but with the knowledge that we have today, I would say: no, it is a good thing that we persevered. I'm very sorry for students and employees who have to deal with these problems, but I'm afraid that the implementation of such a system cannot be done without some pain. A certain number of things always go wrong in major ICT operations. Everything is connected to everything else, which means that the weakest link has a huge impact and can trigger a domino effect of trouble. A small technical problem can have enormous consequences. Last Friday, for example, parts of blocks had disappeared from timetables, and hey could no longer be viewed on screen. Later we discovered that they were still actually there. But employees who had put in long hours were alarmed. I don't think we would have sailed through smoothly if we had waited until January to implement the new system. Besides, we had to be linked to the national StudieLink. Had we done that with our old system, there would have been gigantic problems anyway.”

 

Riki Janssen

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