Students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology will benefit from more hands-on ERP experience thanks to a $4 million software grant from PeopleSoft.

The announcement

made late last week was coupled with the opening of a North American support and development center in Vancouver. Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft Inc. will invest $20 million in the facility a staff of 75.

The grant to BCIT is quite significant, says David Horspool, associate of dean of information technology at BCIT’s School of Business in Burnaby, B.C. The grant includes use of PeopleSoft financials, HR, supply chain management and customer relationship management software.

“”We have been using ERP software in the School of Business for the past two years,”” says Horspool, including software from SAP on a smaller scale and Microsoft Great Plains.

While some post-secondary institutions have got themselves into hot water from accepting large donations from technology companies — the recent University of Waterloo relationship with Microsoft comes to mind — Horspool says the PeopleSoft donation does not give the software maker any exclusivity on the BCIT campus.

Horspool says the primary driver for these types of relationships is the demand from area employers for people with practical exposure to ERP.

For now, the donation directly benefits three programs in the School of Business — HR management, operations management and information technology management. For example, PeopleSoft will be core content for the HR systems course in the HR management program, says Horspool. “”We expect in several other specific courses they able to offer PeopleSoft modules to demo HR functions.””

In the near term — one to two years — about 300 students directly benefit, says Horspool. “”We would like to grow it beyond that.”” In addition to having the software, BCIT instructors also get full access to any PeopleSoft training.

Currently instructors are demoing the software, he says, but it should available in BCIT labs in a networked environment by January.

While the software is primarily being made available to BCIT’s School of Business, he says there will be opportunities for the technology programs at the school to access the software.

The School of Business is also looking at co-op opportunities with PeopleSoft for students. Currently the School of Business does not do co-ops opting for end-of-year projects where students act as business consultants to area organizations.

Horspool says it has become quite common for tech companies to seed post-secondary institutions to create potential new hires, something Mark Derraugh, PeopleSoft’s regional director for Western Canada, says was particularly important in Vancouver. “”It makes sense,”” he says. “”We are looking down the road. As we continue to grow and expand our Vancouver operation, we do require those skill sets coming out of the education system for us, our customers and our business partners.””

And students are not just going to come out institutions such as BCIT with just PeopleSoft skills, he adds. “”They’re going to come out with an ERP understanding.””

The support and development center is the first of its kind in Canada, says Derraugh. “”It’s also a first for PeopleSoft in terms of establishing development centers outside of corporate headquarters.””

The company already has approximately 50 support people based in Vancouver (and about 150 in total in the province), he adds, but with the opening of the center, the total number of employees will be 125. “”The difference is that is it now a global development and support center. Before it was dealing with localizations of software, localized enhancement and support for those enhancements.””

PeopleSoft has four hub cities where it does international development, says Derraugh. “”Vancouver has quickly become the largest development and support center outside of California.””

Ram Gupta, PeopleSoft’s executive vice-president of research and development, calls the Vancouver center his “”mini me”” says Derraugh. “”Anything that happens in California can happen here.””

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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