August 25, 1997
Volume 50, No. 1
HR and student services
implementing new software
In an effort to both integrate similar systems and improve service and efficiency, several departments around campus are cooperating to install a new software system for human resources management and student information services.
The University, Emory Hospital, Emory Clinic and Crawford Long are revamping their old HR systems and switching to a single, integrated system from PeopleSoft Inc. PeopleSoft also is developing a student-administrative package, and Emory is one of 18 schools nationwide working with an experimental ("beta") version of the software.
The human resources project team currently is conducting an analysis to fine-tune the PeopleSoft software to fit Emory's needs. Debbie Moyers, assistant vice president for finance and HR project manager, said the PeopleSoft system will essentially replace three major information systems, along with several smaller, subsidiary systems. With plans to have the final version up and running by January 1999, Moyers' team hopes to have a pilot in place by next month.
"It's a very narrow kind of prototype, but it will be a living, breathing [system]," Moyers said. "It's intended to be a very small first slice of the pie, and then we will build on that and expand it as we're going through testing and development."
In May, the HR team contracted with CSC/Pinnacle as an implementation partner for the project. Francene Mangham, director of University Information Systems, said work is generally moving along smoothly, although differences in function and purpose between the health care partners and the University sometimes present hurdles.
Another challenge is that of being one of the first schools to try out a piece of software for student-adminstrative services that will integrate the four functional areas of the financial aid, admissions, bursar and registrar's offices. Project Manager Chuck Nicolaysen, registrar and special assistant to the provost, said the switch enables the University to go back and reevaluate some of the fundamental ways it functions in regard to student administration-and make improvements, if necessary.
"PeopleSoft/SA is only a tool to allow us to accomplish what we want to accomplish," Nicolaysen said. "If we don't examine the way we do business at the same time we're putting in new software, then we've missed an opportunity."
Essentially a modular package, the PeopleSoft/SA software would allow the University to change a part of the system without restructuring everything else. It is table-based, Nicolaysen said, so if the faculty voted to change the grading system, for example, only a couple of tables would need to be switched, saving time and money in reprogramming.
Initially, seven schools signed on with PeopleSoft to be beta partners in the SA software development. Emory is one of 11 subsequent "charter" schools, and all 18 currently share information, help "and sympathy," Nicolaysen joked. Unlike the HR project, the SA team has not hired an implementation partner since the first official version of PeopleSoft/SA will not be released until December, and essentially no organization knows it better than the company and the 18 participating schools.
Since there are some overlapping areas between the two projects-Emory students can also be Emory employees, for example-the two teams have cooperated in certain areas. "One of the things with both of these projects that I think is very different and noteworthy is that, in years past, a lot of these efforts have been information-technology efforts, technical projects," Mangham said. "And I think on both fronts [we're] looking at these as functional user projects-they're driven by the business and not the technical side of the house."
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