PeopleSoft: Worst Software. Ever.

I needed to hop onto my UND account a few minutes ago to see how much money I owe the university this semester, and it only served to remind me that it is the single worst example of web-based software I have ever seen. Ever. I can feel my stress level rise and my blood begin to boil whenever I see the login screen on this piece of crap – and that’s just the begining to the nightmare that is called PeopleSoft.

You see, when you login, you can only use your unique 8 character ID number. Nevermind the fact that the system has a valid email address stored for me – it forces me to use my new campus ID number that replaces the previous one I had for nine years. Then, if like me, you happen to mistype your password after finding your ID, you get this beauty of an error message:

bea.jolt.ApplicationException: TPESVCFAIL - application level service failure

That message means absolutely nothing to the end user. They should never, ever have to see internal errors like that. It’s not their problem – just tell them what happened and what, if anything, they can do to fix the issue.

Once in, try, just try, to find what you want in their menu system. My best guess for what I wanted was “Student Self-Service”, so I chose that option. Upon clicking it, this shows up on my screen:

Authorization Error -- Contact your Security Administrator

So according to their system, I have Student Self-Service listed as a choice, but I’m not authorized to use it. Brilliant! But wait – there’s more! On the same page where I see this error message, a sub-menu has expanded beneath my choice. I click on “Learner Services” and – what do you know!? I actually do have rights to view it!

I’m just happy I didn’t have to try and schedule a class through PeopleSoft today. It’s the most backward, complex process I’ve seen – it simply defies all logic. To look at the academic catalog to find class call numbers, the program first asks you for a term, without actually ever saying what they’re looking for. A date? A year? No, actually, it’s a random number which you can eventually find by doing what amounts to an “I’m feeling lucky” search for “2006”. It turns out spring semester is 0630, which makes perfect sense, right?

I could go on, but it would probably cause me to have a heart attack at age 27. It’s just not worth it. I find it amusing though, that a company called PeopleSoft develops and sells a product by the same name that is anything but people friendly. I realize that ERP software is complex because it’s attempting to solve complex problems, but I just can’t comprehend the fact that the a package selling for tens of millions of dollars is so poorly designed. There doesn’t appear to be any consideration for the end user and their productivity.

If I had to guess, I’d say the backend system was written by programmers and then the user interface was slapped onto it during the last few weeks of development. I’d be very surprised if a user interface expert ever had their hands on this monstrosity. If one did, he should be fired, in addition to being ashamed at the fact that there are people working with this crappy software all day long.

Do you think there’s ever been a study looking at the correlation between using PeopleSoft and self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head? That would just confirm my thesis that it’s just not healthy for you.

  • Bill

    Hi there,
    I’m a new Uni graduate just started working on a PeopleSoft job, I found your article when I’m doing a Google search on a common PeopleSoft problem “Authorization Error — Contact your Security Administrator”. Well, I AM the Sercurity Administrator in this case, but I don’t have any idea why there is an error. PeopleSoft should really give some more informative messages….

    anyway, i’m amused by your article, and I couldn’t agree more. The university I studied in deploy PeopleSoft on year 2001, and it’s the most critisied peice of software in our campus!!! However, though I’ve only enter this industry for a few month, I feel the reason why PeopleSoft function so poor is not because the software itself suck, but due to limited budget and time invested into deployment of project. For those who are willing to spend big money, PeopleSoft project actually turn out to be fine!!

  • killerrabbitt

    I agree! Going from a small municipality with pre-packaged software to a large one with peoplesoft, I expected that the large city would have the best software available How wrong I was. Clunky navigation, unfriendly interfaces, counter-intuitive menu names (have to navigate to “create a journal entry” if all I want to do is look at an existing journal entry), no context-sensitive help. I have issued more tip sheets on workarounds that I have on actual system operation.