back to article Printer drivers ate our homework, says NSW Dept of Education

A half-billion-dollar IT rollout in the New South Wales Department of Education in Australia has turned into a disaster – with a department official blaming incompatibility between operating systems and printers. In the first parliamentary examination of the nearly decade-old “Learning Management and Business Reform” (LMBR) …

  1. thames

    the giant SAP rollout

    "education minister Adrian Piccoli has refused to tell budget estimators how much the giant SAP rollout is likely to cost, if it's ever completed"

    How could I ever guess this is what the story was about?

    "Back in 2013, Accenture regarded the project as a success story."

    I must be psychic, because somehow I just knew I would see their name here.

    "The Auditor-General's report last year attributed the project's problems to ... and insufficient program and contract management."

    Somehow I suspect there was loads of program and contract management. What was more likely lacking was people who knew what they were doing and who could see that this whole project was doomed to go this way once someone decided they wanted a single gigantic system that would do everything, including making the tea in the morning.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: the giant SAP rollout

      To be fair to the minister, no one ever knows in advance what a giant SAP rollout will cost. Much Much more than your organisation can afford seems to be a good starting figure.

      1. Bernd Felsche
        Big Brother

        Re: the giant SAP rollout

        If one is lucky.

        Does anybody remember Andersen's SAPpies losing Volkswagen's warehouse city in Kassel in 1999? Well; they lost all the stock levels for 200+k lines of spare parts to supply much of Germany and Western Europe.

        SAP's hands were clean; of course.

    2. shamusor

      Re: the giant SAP rollout

      What they don't say is that Tribal (UK Education Software provider) is also providing the SALM component of the LMBR program and it seems to have failed to deliver given the bad press in Sydney. Tribal have had to renegotiate contracts with the State and noted an inability to recognize revenue from the program. Now Tribal are leaving the LSE and re-listing on AIM having lost 47 million this year and has had to reissue its entire stock via a 22p rights issue just to get cash to stay afloat.

      The big boys always come out on top (Accenture / SAP) and the small fish get gobbled up.

  2. LaeMing Silver badge
    Happy

    Printer driver incompatibility.

    Should have listened to RMS!

  3. Diogenes Silver badge

    Riddle me this

    What do a vendor management & payment system & student management, including attendance, disabilty information, subject selection, behaviour management systems have in common ?

    I have worked for a place that tried to modify a bought Employee Management System to match the companies practices, and decided to change the company to meet the requirements of the bought accounts package.(Rule 1. Nothing will be customised !, Rule 2. See Rule 1.) - 3 guesses why.

    This and ET4L (centralised DoE control of all our machines) is going to make life very interesting.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SAP

    Multi-Level Marketing.

  5. PeterM42
    FAIL

    Why?......

    ......would anyone who looks at such things EVER even think of implementing a CRAP, sorry I mean SAP system?

  6. dalek

    290 schools * $10,000 each school for new printers. Just shy of $3mil. So let's be ultra conservative and say $30mil for new printers. Where is the rest of the money going???

    1. Trixr Bronze badge

      You missed the magic word "SAP". They don't get out of bed for less than, I dunno, $50 mill these days.

      What SAP could possibly have to do with schools is beyond me.

    2. What_Does_Not_Kill_You_Makes_You_Stronger

      A little Consultancy does you good.

      @dalek

      The rest of the money has gone to very expensive consultants to research what printers you *could* use, by calling in multiple vendors consultants to report what each vendors printer(s) can do.

      This information is then compiled and consolidated into a 200 page report repeating all the information received. The choices are displayed in graphs and tables on nice glossy paper. There is, of course, a very flashy presentation to match with all the same graphics and tables.

      This is presented to the senior stakeholders in a nice flashy location paid for by the Consultancy (you think !).

      Finally, the Stakeholders are asked to make a decision which of course they cannot as no meaningful conclusion has been reached in the report.

      This means that the same Consultants are then called back in to to go over the same ground to compile a shortlist.

      The selection is then make at random from the shortlist and contracts commited to.

      Meanwhile by now the original Business case has been changed 5 times and the requirements are so different that the Printers committed to will not work. Too late.

      Sound about right ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A little Consultancy does you good.

        Sounds about right. But you missed the bit were the vendor with the most smoke and mirrors and least ability is chosen.

  7. Trixr Bronze badge

    Ah, SAP. Ah, SAP and printers. Yep, forget it if you don't have PS driver support on your crap office printer you scored at Dick Smith.

    1. Frank Rysanek

      PostScript isn't all bad

      Generic Postscript appears to be the vehicle that allows for large-scale networked printing. There are several vendors of centrally managed / networked / distributed printing systems for large corporations, that depend on Postscript as the "common denominator" = common printing language.

      Using Ghostscript and its fellow RedMon (virtual printer device / redirector), you can turn a Windows-only GDI printer into a PostScript printing backend. Provided that there are still drivers for your old and cheap printer in your current Windows version - which may turn out to be your ultimate hard cheese :-) But if you do have a native Windows driver for the printer, the rest (Ghostscript+Redmon) is subject to some IT automation / scripting, if this is to be deployed on a more massive distributed scale. Yes there would be pitfalls, if the strategy so far has been "bring your own printer" :-)

      Windows 8.1 / 2012 R2 still contain workable generic PS and PCL5e drivers. Ghostscript can produce PCL5 (and there's a flavour that can take PCL5e as *input* I guess). Typically, the "second cheapest" laser printer from a given vendor will take PCL5e (or at least PCL3). Not sure if inkjets are considered in the edu.au SAP project... they're a plague in their own right anyway.

      I suspect that printers are just an excuse though.

  8. Denarius
    Unhappy

    another one, again

    love to see root cause analysis without the managers, consultants, advisers, finance and HR droids allowed within 100 km and blindfolded, gagged and relocated to somewhere they can be controlled a little. Gitmo for instance. Seems tp be so much control of the "Project" that no real work gets done, like problem definition, alternative analysis and consulting the end users. Stuffups and waste like this are now mandatory by the time the process people have added their $5000 worth.

    Reminds me of a local department that noticed that project money was not being spent at estimated rate. Cause: procurement processes so complex and paperwork ridden with pointless tick box timewasters it could not be followed before heat death of universe. PHB solution: Another layer of managers to ask questions, and delay decisions to speed up expenditure. All non-technical clueless naturally on a very technical project. Rome had barbarians, we have managers

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Schools

      I worked in a school where they had printer problems. They called in a 'consultant' who 'fixed' the problem by removing the individual UPS's on two servers and sold the school a single UPS for both servers. I did not hang around to see how successful that was.

  10. Cincinnataroo

    Let's see if I have this right. Individuals buy printers for their computers every day and they mostly just work. Companies same.

    The government can't find printers that work despite spending big to make it so.

    Maybe government is guaranteed to break even the unbreakable.

    It's not the printers dummy.

    1. Holtsmark

      ..or as my beloved brother once said:

      Nothing is infantry proof... except, maybe, a ball made out of hardened steel, with a diameter of 2 meter...however, this they will loose.

    2. Hans 1 Silver badge

      >Let's see if I have this right. Individuals buy printers for their computers every day and they mostly just work. Companies same.

      Ever heard of MS dropping support for various printers, some specialized kit from 2006 cannot support Vista/2008, let alone 7/2012 or later ...it is happening all the time! In Linux, the drivers once written are not discarded ... I heard they were thinking about dropping support for some 1980's printers ... not that you could find toners/cartridges for them anymore ...

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      It's SAP that's guaranteed to break even the unbreakable. The government should have realised that and stayed well away.

  11. Diogenes Silver badge

    Funny that...

    By the middle of next year all schools will be on ET4L , there are a limited number of printers available to purchase on contract & IT is specifically exempted from Local Decisions Local Schools purchasing arrangements.

    So the problem will be limited to at most a dozen printers. WTF ?

  12. Hans 1 Silver badge

    >Back in 2013, Accenture regarded the project as a success story.

    They still regard it as a success story. SAP/SQLServer/Windows ? What possibly could go wrong ?

    If you have too much cash, hire in Accenture, they will make sure you bleed to death with incessant delays et al. Their goal is to push MS software solutions into every corner of your data center.

  13. Sureo

    "...incompatibility between operating systems and printers..."

    Understandable if they're HP printers. I finally regained my life after tossing them in the dumpster.

  14. razorfishsl

    You just know they are speaking about OSX here.......

    What with HP & Apple buttfucking every user on each new OSX update.

    Yes you thought your printer was supported in OSX and it was until the 10.X.X update... oh there goes your scanner and fax support.

    Sorry you bought it 2-3 years ago... go buy a new printer...

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