Administration at UW — It’s Complicated
Administration at the University of Wisconsin has become increasingly complex and costly. Disparate processes and systems, inconsistent data management, uneven internal controls, and complicated technology integrations create a lack of coordination that produces redundancies throughout the System.
Much of this complexity can be attributed to the functional gaps of UW’s Shared Financial System (SFS) and the Human Resource System (HRS) ERPs. These systems do not serve the diverse functional needs of all UW institutions, leading to the proliferation of “local solutions,” work-arounds, and shadow systems. Across the System, nearly 700 ancillary systems have been built or purchased by individual units — at steep costs.
What We’re Doing About It
The Administrative Transformation Program’s work to streamline UW’s administrative processes is only possible if we have a modern technology environment to support them. This includes the implementation of an integrated, cloud-based ERP system that simultaneously enables the functions of HR, finance, and research post-award administration. (Learn about our related effort to modernize research administration.)
The first step in this project requires ATP’s Strategy Leads to understand the functions of UW’s many ancillary systems. We are working with system owners to establish plans for evaluating the systems’ roles in the redesign of business processes via the implementation of the new ERP.
What Are Ancillary Systems?
Ancillary systems include third-party or bolt-on software or homegrown solutions used by academic, administrative, and auxiliary units to support their operations.
An integrated, cloud-based ERP system is key in producing a more effective work environment. Additional benefits include:
- Stronger internal controls supported by:
- Native workflow, routing, and approvals
- One customer dataset for accounts receivable and billing, with centralized aging write-offs and collections
- Fully integrated, accrual-based general ledger and financial reporting
- Ability to establish enterprise-wide role-based access
- Integrated research administration end-to-end processing from pre- through post-award
System Evaluation Process
The ATP Strategy Teams are evaluating all ancillary systems to determine if their functionalities and data either relate to or duplicate those native to the chosen enterprise systems within ATP’s scope. Each of the ancillary systems will be placed into one of three categories: keep, analyze, or replace.
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Discovery interviews conducted in 2018 and 2019 revealed the extraordinary complexity of UW administration’s technology environment. Additional inventories were established that outline the existing integrations with HRS and SFS to support the software selection. All of this information has been compiled and organized for further evaluation.
Extended Preplanning Phase and Prepare Phase
As part of preplanning activities, ATP is defining the scope and scale of effort needed as part of the Planning Phase. A preliminary disposition for all relevant ancillary systems will provide our team with an idea of scope and understanding of necessary plan activities.
In collaboration with system owners, ATP Strategy Leads will categorize each ancillary system to be kept, replaced, or analyzed. Each ancillary system will also be mapped to one or more business process areas, and key use cases will be gathered to be fully vetted during subsequent phases.
Planning and Design Phase
In the Planning and Design Phases, the Strategy and Design Teams will evaluate the end-to-end business processes and determine if there is a policy, procedure, or configurable option within the ERP to meet the needs that previously had been met by the related ancillary systems.
For those systems evaluated to be kept:
- Gap analysis: A thorough gap analysis evaluation will consider the key use cases, enterprise system gaps, cost of maintenance, and weigh options for future-state business processes.
- If a gap remains in the ERP solution, an integration plan following the Interop principles will be established, a security assessment and plan of action agreed upon, and data governance approval obtained.
For those systems evaluated to be replaced, an appropriate set of the following plans will be established depending on the scope and impact of the change:
- Benefits Realization: The benefit to be realized as a result of the replacement will be identified.
- Business process alignment or redesign: Plan to transition to the new business processes, with the goal of minimizing service interruptions.
- Data conversions: Plan for data from ancillary system that would be converted to the ERP, a data warehouse, or other data repository to support ongoing business operations.
- Reporting requirements: Defined reporting requirements that were met with the ancillary system.
- Action plan: Identify the need for parallel systems, a cutover plan, and any risks to be addressed.
- Schedule for transition: Milestones, a timeline, and identified transition periods aligning with the technical, reporting, and business process redesign.
- Change management and communications plan: Plan for significant impact to campus (e.g., high number of users, high volume of transactions, critical or essential business functions, etc.).
- “Memorial”: The “Memorial” recognizes the importance of the ancillary system over the span of its existence and the decisions originally made to implement it.
The Administrative Transformation Program and UW administrative leaders made key decisions that will improve business processes at the University of Wisconsin.April 29, 2021
ATP is starting the work to transform business processes with a series of workshops involving program leadership and administrative experts from across the UW System.March 22, 2021
The University of Wisconsin System issued a notice of its intent to select Workday to provide a cloud-based enterprise resource planning system to replace the Human Resource System and the Shared Financial System at all UW System institutions.January 19, 2021
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