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Published June 22, 2016
A transformation of the University of Wyoming’s financial, administrative and research support systems will begin soon, following action by the UW Board of Trustees.
The board voted last week to authorize contract negotiations with Oracle Corp. to use its cloud-based software solutions to serve the entire university. The system will centralize and replace outdated systems across UW, including those handling human resources, financial management, budgeting and external grants. The system also will allow for integrated data reporting across all university systems.
Total cost of the project implementation over about three years is projected at $30 million, funded by a legislative appropriation and internal UW reallocations. This includes consulting costs for system implementation, reporting setup, business and budget process redesign, and project and change management activities.
“The need for an improved financial and reporting system at UW has been recognized by groups ranging from trustees and administrators to legislative committees and, with the support of all of them, we can finally move forward with a comprehensive solution,” Vice President for Administration Bill Mai says. “This will change the way the university does business at every level, providing a modern and synchronized environment that will allow university faculty and staff members to spend less time on paperwork and more time on efforts that contribute to the university’s mission. And, it will provide a level of transparency that is long overdue to those with an interest in the university.”
Oracle was selected through a competitive proposal process aided by Huron Consulting Group, with which UW contracted in 2015 to evaluate the university’s financial and reporting processes. A committee of UW administrators and employees from across campus provided the recommendation to the university’s Executive Council and President Laurie Nichols, and it went to a committee of the Board of Trustees before action by the full board.
“We selected Oracle because of its proven ability to meet the university’s needs and its depth of experience in higher education,” say Jen Chavez and Megan Hanneman, co-chairs of the selection committee. “We evaluated vendors based on several factors, including input from employees, vendor commitment and stability, and alignment with our vision. Oracle was the best choice based on UW’s unique needs.”
Once a contract with Oracle is in place, UW will begin transforming its business operations to:
-- Improve the quality and accuracy of information to make timely and informed decisions about where and how to invest resources.
-- Modernize processes and systems to allow faculty and staff members to focus more of their time and energy on the core mission of the university.
-- Provide new opportunities for employees to contribute to the university’s success.
-- Allow for integrated data reporting of student, financial, human resources and grant information, and other informational sources, from a single platform.
The new system will provide the type of intuitive user interface and seamless functionality that employees expect and are accustomed to from their other work and experiences online.
“We have an antiquated and inefficient approach to data management. The series of shadow systems currently used across campus requires significant additional time and effort for individual units to input, organize and interpret data. Yet, despite that extra effort and cost, that approach is still insufficient to manage and forecast unit and institutional needs,” Vice President for Information Technology Robert Aylward says. “The reporting functionality of the new system will bring us comprehensive data integration, data reporting and a much more productive work experience.”
The new system will be especially valuable as the university embarks on strategic planning in the next year, led by Nichols.
“This will allow us to measure decisions against the strategic plan and be fully transparent regarding how resources are being used,” the president says. “We intend for the university to move on a strong upward trajectory in coming years, and the new system functionality will help make that possible.”
A team of staff members -- led by Hanneman and Chavez -- dedicated to the implementation project will assemble work groups, with representatives from across the university, to develop the plans and processes necessary to transition from existing systems to the new environment.
“We invite members of the UW community to share their ideas and concerns,” Mai says. “We take the needs of stakeholders seriously, and we will consider all suggestions and comments.”