October 9, 2000
Demos Get Good Reviews
The Purchasing/Accounts Payable team, which began work 4 months into the
project, is running just about even with the other teams as we enter the
build and test phase. The big events of the last month were demos for
employees of the Procurement Services and for school and departmental
subject matter experts. Team members demonstrated how to:
Add a vendor
Enter a requisition
Change a requisition to a purchase order
Process a direct purchase order entry (LPO)
Process an invoice and match to purchase order
Process vouchers (demand payments)
Make inquiries regarding invoices, purchase orders, and requisitions
"The response from subject matter experts was
very positive," reports Gary Nimax, POAP team lead. "People seemed pleased
with the new functionality they will be getting." In
particular, Dolores Hildebrand, business manager for Procurement Services,
likes that fact that the purchasing application is Windows-based, "allowing
us to drill down for further information." She also notes that "entry
into the system is simplified to the point that buyers can complete their
own purchase orders rather than having central data entry staff performing
ITC Purchasing Manager Jackie Daniel is "fascinated
by the whole thing." "It seems logical and straight forward," she reports,
after seeing the demos. "The screens prompt you, so it seems you move
smoothly through the process."
While she is excited at the prospect, Daniel
has the hardest time imagining how she will be doing her work without
paper. "We print out everything now," she exclaims. "We staple things
together until we have a complete history of the order and put it in the
vendor file. Our biggest adjustment will be having nothing to staple!
And our biggest challenge will be not pressing the print button."
The payoff will be worth the adjustment, according
to Daniel. "I like doing things on line," she says. "We'll be able to
see the whole process, the whole history on the computer without going
to the file drawer and hunting for misfiled documents. We're going to
have to find something other than paper to put in our file cabinets. Maybe
we'll fill them with candy!"
Do I Need Special Skills?
Nine out of ten University of Virginia employees who will use the new
Integrated System already have the basic technology skills they need to
qualify for the Oracle training. Assuming that you have basic Windows
knowledge, including mouse, point and click, drag and drop, etc., the
prerequisite skills are:
You must be able to communicate via email, including sending
and receiving attachments;
You must be able to work in Netscape 4.5 or Internet Explorer
5.0, including navigating on the web, recognizing a URL (Uniform Resource
Locator), and sending messages from your browser.
Where can you get the skills that you need?
Email programs Eudora and Simeon have help screens for "attaching a file
to a message" that contain all the necessary instructions. ITC also offers
free, introductory workshops for both programs and documentation for Simeon
on the ITC web site at www.itc.virginia.edu.
Internet Explorer does not require special settings
to send messages from the browser, but Netscape does. To set addressing
preferences in Netscape, select "Edit, Preferences" on the toolbar, and
enter the requested information. The help menu gives step-by-step instructions
for editing preferences.
Visit the Integrated Systems Project's web site
often at http://www.virginia.edu/isp
and follow the links to training for more in depth information on training
pre-requisites for the new system. As more information on required skills
becomes available, it will be posted on the web site, including information
for specialized audiences.
Teams Prepping for First Big Test
been planning. We've been configuring. We've been setting up. We've been
loading data. How are we going to know if it all works??? Our first big
test comes in November, and we're cramming.
Conference Room Pilot 1 (CRP 1) sessions will
be held the first two weeks in November. At that time, selected central,
school, and departmental subject matter experts will come in and, with
ISP team members, follow scripts to test transaction flow within each
application, using U.Va. data. This will offer an opportunity to validate
our set-up steps and identify any issues or problems with the software.
Team members are currently developing the test
scripts and loading actual U.Va. transaction data. "Oracle gives us some
generic, model test cases," explains Shy Hicks, General Ledger team lead.
"We are fitting them to our business processes to develop detailed scenarios
of how employees would use the applications. For example, the General
Ledger team is scripting all the business processes involved in taking
a gift from receipt by the Office of Development until funds are made
available for disbursements in the Funds Management application."
The next big test will come in February with
CRP 2. At that time, teams will use the same scripts, but will then string
them together to test cross-application integration. Does the entered
requisition show up as an encumbrance in funds management? Did the bill
from Facilities Management debit and credit the correct object codes?
CRP2 is also when any modifications to the software
will be tested, as well as the flow of information into and out of legacy
systems such as the Human Resources System, OPAS, and ISIS - applications
that will not be implemented until later phases of the project.
"The teams have been working fairly independently
to this point, making sure their individual applications function smoothly
for the University community," says Matt Waldron, ISP functional lead.
"We're anxious to get this first test under our belts so we can start
working across teams and realize the real benefits of an integrated system."
The Integrated System, once implemented and once employees are comfortable
with the new procedures, will dramatically improve data gathering and
reporting on as well as streamline business practices throughout the University.
There is a learning curve, however, and that period of transition can
cause anxiety. In anticipation, project staff is gearing up the transition
effort, working to foresee questions, provide answers, and prepare all
employees for the implementation.
"The goals of the transition effort are to help
employees anticipate and adapt to the changes that come with the Integrated
System, to minimize disruption to their work and to them personally, and
to ensure smooth business operations," says Carole Horwitz, ISP communications
manager. "Obviously, information is the best anecdote to uncertainty,
and we are sharing information as soon as we have it. The difficulty we
all face is that the system is being built as we speak, so we don't have
all the answers yet. The good news is that what we know about the system
is rapidly increasing, so people's curiosity can be satisfied much faster
in the next few months than it could be in the past several." "For
example," says Bill Randolph, ISP project director, "we have just completed
a set of business rules that will guide us on how all the various sources
of money at the University will be handled in the Oracle system. We have
received tremendous support from Steve Kimata and his staff in Financial
Administration in completing this important task. We are now ready to
begin meeting with the administrators in the schools and departments to
begin to establish the award and project structure for their units, a
process they have been anxiously awaiting."
"We know that everyone's comfort level with the
new Integrated System is dependent on how well they understand and are
prepared for their role in it," says Horwitz. "So we will be devoting
a lot of attention toward making sure employees are trained, have open
lines of communication, and receive timely information."
For current information on the Integrated Systems
Project, visit the ISP website at http://www.virginia.edu/isp
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be able to see the whole process, the whole history on the computer
without going to the file drawer and hunting for misfiled documents."