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University orders investigation into Oracle finance disaster

Staff forced to make their own purchases after suppliers walk away due to payment failures

The University of Edinburgh has launched a review into its disastrous go-live of an Oracle finance system as it admitted suppliers have walked away over stalled payments.

Information passed to The Register also shows university staff were forced to fetch their own supplies and charge them to expenses owing to a lack of stock and services.

Earlier this month, it emerged that staff had been paid late, leaving some in financial distress, because of the troubled introduction of a new finance and HR system based on Oracle Fusion technology. Called "People and Money" internally, the system went live in June after the institution worked with implementation partner Inoapps.

In an email seen by The Register, principal Professor Peter Mathieson told staff and students that the leadership team was "acutely aware that our University is facing major disruption caused by the implementation of our new finance services underpinned by the People and Money system."

"We have listened to how this is affecting our staff, students, suppliers and partners and we are sincerely sorry for the unacceptable position this has put people in," he said.

One employee told The Register staff were being forced to buy their own stationery and pay for their own taxis...

"We continue to do all we can to ensure these problems will not recur in the future. We have committed to undertaking an external review to highlight what lessons we can learn and help to inform further improvements."

The principal also promised to address late payments to staff and students. He said the university had taken extra measures to ensure stipends to students were made in November, December and beyond "correctly and on time." He also said the university was making a one-off payment of £300 ($358) to anyone affected by a late stipend payment in September or October 2022.

Meanwhile, suppliers have stopped providing goods and services to the University, one employee told The Register. Staff were being forced to buy their own stationery and pay for their own taxis because the companies with formal agreements had stopped supplying the institution because of late or failed payments.

Meanwhile, in response to criticism from the University's Senate, a representative body made up of students and academics, the institution said it would extend the support provided by implementation partner Inoapps and "keep this under review, with a focus on tackling remaining finance system defects."

It said it had extended support from finance teams and technology teams including "programme team, change team, and business analysis support." Oracle "accelerated customer support" had also been extended, it said.

The university has been asked to comment.

In an earlier response, a spokesperson said the university apologized to any students, staff or suppliers who are experiencing a delay in payment.

Oracle and Inoapps have so far declined the opportunity to comment.

According to a Freedom of Information request, Edinburgh University was using Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) 12.1.3 for HR, payroll and self-service as of December 2014. The most recent upgrade of this system had taken place in November 2013. ®

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