A Really Bad Time to Upgrade

By Deane Barker on September 29, 2005

Computers hang up SBA loans: The Small Business Administration “upgraded” their computer system last December.

Because of the new computer system, paperwork that once took 30 minutes now takes hours, workers for the SBA say. The network that connects inspectors with their offices is frequently down. And workers in the field say they can’t read the screens of their tablet-style computers in the glare of Gulf Coast sunlight.

The head of the agency, Hector Barreto, defended the system last week in congressional testimony. He said the $23.7 million system was state of the art and more secure. “All of this is an improvement over our old system,” Barreto said.

The begining of this excerpt doesn’t match the end. How can an increase in processing time from 30 minutes to “hours” be considered “an improvement over [the] old system”?



  1. Oh, you haven’t met the monolith that is Banner. The university that I attend recently paid millions upon millions of dollars for a “integrate-everything” system called Banner that has been a nightmare for everyone. Payroll takes about 4 times as long as before. Professors couldn’t get anything more than a list of names for their class rosters. And apparently, if you’re charging a University account number, and you mess up and type one that doesn’t exist, it creates a new account with a negative balance.


  2. Sounds like the new database system my brother is forced to use at his job. They had a home grown system using Access and Excel that was working pretty good for them. Then someone, somewhere got sold an integrated system. Now they do four times the work just so that a few bits of data are conistent throughout the organization. Of course no one in a position to change things is going to admit they spent multi-millions of dollars on a system that doesn’t work.

  3. The SBA system works fine. It is having some growing pains but 99% of the problems are “operator malfunction” of people in the field.

  4. 99% of the problems are “operator malfunction” of people in the field.

    If you’re having that many problems, and 99% of the them are operator error, then — in my mind — a lot fo the blame falls back on this system. What kind of system is it that generates that many operator errors?

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