ERP demos engage administrative communities Systemwide

Members of the University of Wisconsin’s human resources, finance and research administration communities came from near and far to participate in two weeks of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software demonstrations, hosted by the Administrative Transformation Program (ATP). The cloud-based ERP vendor demonstrations included two vendor candidates, Oracle Cloud and Workday.

Held at the Pyle Center in Madison on January 14–17 and 21–24, the demos will assist ATP’s Software Selection Committee in determining which cloud-based tool will best support the program’s vision for improved operations within UW’s HR and financial systems. The committee, composed of subject-matter experts from across the System, will be making a recommendation in spring 2020.

The event also served as an opportunity to engage the broader university community with ATP’s efforts. More than 150 participants traveled from UW institutions statewide to sit in on the live demonstrations, where they were able to view and ask questions about each system’s capabilities.

The HR and finance communities at all UW institutions were also invited to participate via livestream. Over the two-week period, as many as 250 viewers tuned in and submitted questions via email.

Demonstrated functions included onboarding and recruiting, payroll, benefits administration, and finance and grants management. Because of the ongoing selection process, product detail is not available at this time.

“It was great to see so much enthusiastic participation across the state,” says Nick Tincher, ATP’s Program Director. “Everyone seemed to come away from the event feeling energized about the future opportunities through ATP and what’s in store in the coming months.”

The cloud-based ERP vendor demonstrations are just one step in ATP’s process to reimagine UW’s administrative landscape. In the months leading up to the demonstrations, ATP has met with campuses statewide to identify pain points in UW’s current administrative systems.

Following the demonstrations, the program’s strategy leads will continue working with subject-matter experts throughout the system to examine opportunities for improvement in process and policy.

“We are rigorously reviewing policies and procedures,” says Patrick Sheehan, ATP’s HR Strategy Lead. “We want to ensure that, regardless of which technology is selected, we are using this opportunity to be thoughtful about our administrative policies and to ensure that our procedures meet our business needs and are not unnecessarily burdensome.”

“During the Preplanning Phase, we are working to develop strategies for the future state,” adds Kurt McMillen, ATP Research Administration Strategy Lead. “Having a better idea of what the technology may provide was incredibly helpful.”

ATP Finance Strategy Lead Susie Maloney and her team have begun gathering business requirements in preparation for a change from cash- to accrual-based accounting. Once an ERP system is selected, her team will further develop values for the chart of accounts.

All of ATP’s efforts are in service of four main goals: to return time to UW’s mission by reducing complexity; to build an administration that is resilient and supports an increasing pace of change; to equip staff with the skills for continuous growth; and to strengthen UW’s data availability, financial controls and information security.

“ATP isn’t just about better administrative operations,” Tincher says. “It’s about building a stronger foundation for UW’s faculty, staff and students.”