NSW TAFE dumps LMBR IT platform

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NSW TAFE dumps LMBR IT platform

First domino falls in $580m education IT nightmare.

NSW TAFE will cut its losses and dump the Tribal student management solution installed across the state as part of the education-wide learning management and business reform (LMBR) IT overhaul.

Skills Minister John Barilano today confirmed that TAFE’s executive had been directed to start looking for a cloud-based replacement, and said he expected a new solution to be in place in time to take 2018 enrolments.

Until then, he said, NSW TAFE will continue to work with the Tribal system that has been installed by the UK software provider.

“A modern, cloud-based system will enable students to easily manage their training records and TAFE NSW to adapt more quickly to new policy settings,” he said.

“The new system will need to effectively support TAFE NSW’s financial systems in the new commercial and contestable training environment.”

It is the first domino to fall in the notorious LMBR project, which is running several years behind schedule and roughly $95 million over budget.

The LMBR scheme aimed to replace ageing ERP and student management technology across the state’s schools and vocational education system with modern solutions, but has been hampered by complexity, resourcing constraints, and the challenge of getting thousands of NSW teachers fully trained using the new products.

The TAFE component went live in October 2014 and has caused headaches at the beginning of enrolment periods ever since. The woes meant TAFE could not track who had and hadn’t paid roughly $477 million in student fees per annum, and added lengthy delays for students trying to sign up to courses.

In June 2015 the impact was felt all the way through to jobs giant Seek, whose education business took a hit when prospective TAFE students were discouraged by the sign-up chaos.

Barilaro today thanked TAFE staff for their efforts to enrol students despite the technological struggles.

The decision is a huge blow to education software provider Tribal, which was forced to downgrade its profit guidance in late 2015 after delays to the NSW TAFE rollout hit its cash flow and debt repayments.

It also follows the early termination of Tribal's contract with Queensland TAFE in May, where it was also rolling out a student management system.

The NSW TAFE deal is valued at around $67 million. It was topped up by just over $30 million in October, which would see the partnership continue into 2017.

Since its projects in NSW and Queensland hit trouble, Tribal has pulled out of the London Stock Exchange and re-isted on the lower-cost, start-up focused AIM market.

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