21, No. 8, Oct. 18, 2001
First two modules of human
resources phase of
UI-Integrate to be implemented in December
Forrest, Assistant Editor
Change is under way for the three UI campusess outdated and disparate
student, financial and human resource business systems.
The first two modules of the universitys new Enterprise Resource
Planning (ERP) system, developed through the UI-Integrate project, will
be rolled out in December, project team members say. The new system,
a suite of integrated software programs and business processes, is being
implemented universitywide to update and consolidate the current systems.
The $197 million UI-Integrate project is led by teams composed of core
and functional members from the Chicago, Springfield and Urbana campuses.
The project began in July 2000 as a preventive mechanism to streamline
the universitys business processes and to update obsolete hardware
and software systems. Although the three campuses collectively were
using more than 100 applications in their student systems, only five
were used by more than one campus. Likewise, some systems, such as the
30-year-old payroll system, relied on outdated technology and posed
a substantial financial risk if they failed.
"The major goal is to really come up with better business processes
that are more streamlined, that result in more timely data, more accurate
data, that follow best practices in higher education," said Margaret
Krol, project director. "We have lots of separate computer systems
and a number of them are quite old. That makes it difficult when somebody
wants to change the way the university does something sometimes
were constrained by those old systems."
The new software package is Banner2000, which was designed specifically
for higher education by SCT Corp., an information technology company
headquartered in Malvern, Pa., serving more than 1,800 clients worldwide.
The new system will provide a more reliable wide-area network linking
the three UI campuses and providing greater bandwidth for the Springfield
campus. Once its fully implemented, the new system also will incorporate
self-service Web-browser-based functions for students.
After nearly a year in the design phase, the first two modules of the
Banner2000 system, the employee relations and bio/demo modules in the
human resource component, will go "live" in December. The
employee relations module contains contract information for university
employees represented by bargaining units, and the bio/demo module encompasses
biographic and demographic information for all employees.
When the employee relations module takes effect in December, NESSIE
(Net-driven Employee Self-Service and Information Environment)
the current Web environment designed to assist university employees
in conducting human resources transactions will become a central
repository for bargaining-unit information. Currently, some of this
information, such as contract renewal and expiration dates and covered
employee classes, is stored in NESSIE, while related data, such as union
contacts and addresses, is maintained separately by central human resources
and labor relations staff.
As each of the 24 modules of the Banner2000 software system are put
into place during the next three years, existing systems will be overhauled
or retired. For the December implementations, the NESSIE and Electronic
Change of Status (ECOS) systems, both of which access or update biographic
and demographic information, are being redesigned so they will feed
information into databases within the Banner2000 system.
Over time, existing systems such as InPower, the current system for
storing and maintaining biographic and demographic information, will
be phased out as will UI Direct, the current online system for course
registration and grade retrieval.
A related universitywide initiative, the Decision Support project, also
is under way, and team members are developing a reporting infrastructure
so system users can access in-common data for reporting purposes. The
decision support team is now converting data from InPower to Banner2000
to ensure it will be available to produce required reports when the
two modules are implemented in December.
Because the biographical/demographic and employee relations modules
are subordinate applications, few employees beyond a hundred or so central
human resources personnel will notice any changes when those modules
are implemented, say project team members.
However, these two modules are laying some of the groundwork for additional
modules that will go "live" later. Two additional modules
are scheduled to go "live" during 2002 and will affect a larger
portion of the university community: the benefit administration and
student recruiting and admissions modules.
To facilitate communications between the university community and the
project team, a unit liaison program was recently implemented. Unit
liaisons will help assess their units preparedness as modules
are readied for implementation, will help validate personnel training
needs within units and will help implement the new processes.
"Where a lot of projects like this fail is they dont do a
good job of communicating and assessing unit readiness in kind of the
middle tier," said Rich Mendola, UI project executive and associate
vice president of administrative information technology services.
"Weve got to have people out there telling us what needs
to get done for that area, and weve got to be sharing with them
all of the information thats relevant to the implementation,"
Approximately 10,500 core users of the system will undergo some form
of training as new modules are implemented, Mendola said.
In functional areas with significant procedural changes, classroom training
will be scheduled at various sites. Online tutorials, videos and other
self-study options will be available for other users.
To ensure that the system will meet users needs, the project team
is collaborating with UI employees through focus groups, issues resolution
sessions and conference room pilots, which are demonstrations of proposed
business processes using the new system. To date, more than 400 UI employees
have participated in more than 42 conference room pilot projects.
Although the project will standardize some of their systems, the three
campuses will continue to have flexibility in their operating procedures
where needed to meet specific campus requirements, Krol said.
The Banner software system implementation affects only the human resource,
finance and student administrations systems. It does not affect applications
such as building access and parking or desktop software and e-mail.
NESSIE will look much the same and will continue functioning as employees
portal into their human resource and benefit files for the time being.
The Panda and I-card systems, which also are tied to the new human resource
and bio/demo modules, will operate as they always have.
For more information on the UI-Integrate project, visit the UI-Integrate
Web site at www.ui-integrate.uillinois.edu/.