PeopleSoft puts Bupa on the waiting list



One of the UK's largest PeopleSoft users fears its access to the latest upgrade from the supplier is being delayed.

As PeopleSoft today unveils Version 8...



One of the UK's largest PeopleSoft users fears its access to the latest upgrade from the supplier is being delayed.

As PeopleSoft today unveils Version 8 of its enterprise software to UK customers and prospective purchasers, questions are being asked at Bupa, the UK's largest private healthcare provider, about the progress of a key PeopleSoft project.

Bupa currently runs PeopleSoft 7.5, and Computer Weekly understands that in June it signed a deal with the software supplier to become an early adopter of key parts of the financial suite of the new, Web-enabled, Version 8, which became available on 1 September.

However, senior staff in Bupa's IT department are becoming increasingly frustrated at PeopleSoft's reluctance to deliver on the project or return calls over the last two weeks, according to sources involved with the work. Bupa has not seen a demonstration of the product or had it installed on its systems, the sources said.

Bupa finance chiefs have been anxious to centralise its purchase-to-payment process on a single system in the hope of making substantial savings.

Adrian Reynolds, PeopleSoft's UK managing director, said, "We have been in continuous dialogue with Bupa over the last few weeks". He said PeopleSoft and Bupa were working on a new purchasing product but were "still defining the project".

Bupa e-commerce director Mark Ralph said, "We are keen to implement the Version 8 e-purchasing product as soon as possible."

Bupa has a highly distributed infrastructure with 36 hospitals, 34 health screening centres and 300 care homes. Each carries out its own purchasing and billing of a wide range of products.

Nigel Wood, research director at Gartner Group, said similar difficulties could affect other early adopters of emerging technology.

"Businesses that are keen to be early adopters of software that may not be ready for release face particular problems. If you want to be a beta site or an early adopter you have got to be very aware of the risks, particularly if the software involves critical business systems," he said.

PeopleSoft expects to unveil the first three UK users of its Version 8 product, including a government department and a large retail bank, at its European user conference in Spain next month.

It is marketing Version 8 as the first pure Internet e-business software, and claims it "marks the largest technological advance in enterprise software in a decade".

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