While OGM was designed with grants in mind, the project concept is applicable far beyond sponsored research. "We have been meeting with deans, directors, and the ISP Advisory Committee," says Project Director Bill Randolph, "and it is clear that the reporting needs of virtually all of the University's departments would benefit from a project accounting approach. There are needs within schools and departments to account for activities by program, by faculty member, by center, by course offering, and the like. There are very similar needs in the administrative and support areas such as Housing and ITC."
Today departments are creating and using shadow and supplementary information systems to get the information they need for budgeting and management in a useable format. "People have also tried to use the University's general ledger, which should serve primarily as the official book of record, to try to do what OGM is built to do," Randolph says.
As a result, on February 2nd the ISP Executive Committee approved a Project Centric approach for the University of Virginia. This means that all transactions, except for few in the central offices, will be routed through the OGM application.
So what does this mean to those of us who enter these transactions? It means a new set of charging instructions called a PTAEO, which is an acronym for the five segments required for recording transactions in the Oracle Grants Management module: Project, Task, Award (fund source), Expenditure type (object code), and Organization. This new set of charging instructions will replace the current set of account codes, and it is possible that object codes will change as well. "All transactions will be charged to a project," says Randolph, "but we can certainly create projects that map to only one fund source, and that will simplify things for areas where project accounting is not needed."
In the initial conversion to the new project environment, the ISP and Financial Administration will work with departments and will convert their current accounts to a project format. "We will be starting off a bit slowly in the transition to the new environment," Randolph notes. "We will want to make sure we have the basics mastered before we begin to explore the more sophisticated features of the OGM module."
Anda Webb, associate dean for Continuing Education and an ISP advisor, anticipates that the Project Centric approach will help create order out of chaos. "Like other schools at the University, we here in Continuing Education find ourselves 'lost in the details,' tracking expenditures either through shadow systems or manually on a yellow legal pad," she says. "I am looking forward to the day when we will be able to easily access the data we need and quickly make decisions based on good, solid information. While the concept of project-based tracking of expenditures is not a new one to the University, we will need to experience a shift in thinking as much of the work will now be done on the front-end, rather than after-the-fact. Continuing Education is looking forward to the new opportunities OGM will provide and making the transition to a new environment."
Bill Thurneck, assistant dean for administration and academic affairs for the School of Engineering and also an ISP advisor, adds, "The Project Centric approach should enable deans and other key decisions makers to retrieve information in a comprehensive and timely fashion, while this will, in turn, enable improved oversight and decision-making."
"Some of these development instances will be used to set up tables and populate them with information specific to the University of Virginia," says Evans. "Others will be used to build interfaces and convert data from the old systems to the new."
When the teams have populated and configured the system as they want it, the content from the development environment is transferred to three instances for "staging" and integration. One is a testing instance, another is for training, and a third is for conference room pilots. "If problems arise in any of these instances, adjustments are made back in the development environment before being returned to the staging instances and retested," reports Evans. "Only when we are satisfied that the test instance is working perfectly, without any problems, does the staging environment content transfer to the "gold" instance. This is the copy that will go into production."
Resource Teams On Board
"Overviews of the Oracle applications will be available to the University community once it has been customized to our environment," says Potter.