December 12, 2000
Conference Room Pilots a Success
Smith was both enthusiastic and apprehensive as she sat down at a computer
in Room 256 Old Ivy Road and got instructions how to log on to the Oracle
Funds Management application for the first time. Smith, assistant dean
for finance and budget for the School of Engineering, was one of 50 people
from around U.Va. asked to help us do our first set of tests on the Oracle
applications. What she did and saw during her 20 hours of testing reduced
her apprehension, but not her enthusiasm.
"I felt much better having gone through the CRP,"
says Smith. "It was, overall, a positive experience. I didn't understand
the objectives of all the tasks we were asked to perform, probably because
those tasks won't relate directly to my work. But I did have a comfort
level with those tasks I did understand."
Smith anticipates that the most difficult part
of the transition to the Oracle system will be thinking in terms of projects
rather than account codes. "In the long term, we'll wonder how we ever
survived without Oracle," she anticipates. "But I'm realistic enough to
know that there will be some painful moments."
Cyndy Williams, accountant for the School of
Continuing and Professional Studies, concurs. Williams participated in
both the purchasing and labor distribution CRPS, for a total of 24 intense
"It was interesting to switch back and forth
between two applications and see the similarities and differences," Williams
comments. "For those who will work in more than one, it will definitely
be easier for them to learn the second after going through training for
Williams was part of the transition to the CAPPS
system and anticipates that the transition to the Oracle purchasing system
will be easier, primarily because people have already made the big leap
to working on-line. The transition to Oracle labor distribution will be
more difficult, she says, because there will still be an interface to
the legacy HR/Payroll system.
"But, in fact, we have a mixed paper/on-line
system for payroll today," Williams concludes. "And once we go live with
the Oracle HR/Payroll system, it should be a definite improvement."
Like Smith, Williams expects the biggest challenge
will be for people to learn the new accounting system, not how to navigate
the system. But, also like Smith, she feels confident that "in a couple
years we'll wonder how we lived without it."
For a review of the transactions that were tested
in each application, go to http://www.virginia.edu/isp,
click the team you are interested in, and click Status Report in the contents
in the yellow bar. Transactions that were not tested included any that
have modifications or Oracle Technical Assistance Requests in progress,
any for which procedural decision-making is in progress, any that involve
integration between applications, and reporting. These will be tested
in CRP 2 in February.
Overview and Navigation Training Begins in January
Between January and March, about 2500 future users of the Integrated System
will attend one of 170 sessions of Oracle Overview and Navigation training,
a pre-requisite for training in the specific Oracle applications. The
goal of the four-hour course is to enable participants to navigate within
any of the Oracle applications. Specifically, participants will get a
general overview of the new system, then actually learn how to sign on
and off, use forms, menus and toolbars, enter data, query data, and access
In addition to project staff, who will lead the
sessions, many subject matter experts from units across Grounds are volunteering
to proctor the sessions, "walking the room" to give individual assistance
to those who need it.
Most of the January sessions will be filled with
participants from the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine
whose attendance can be coordinated through their dean's offices. A registration
system will be implemented for all other units. Information will be forthcoming
on how to register for sessions in February and March. Be careful to coordinate
with office mates so that everyone isn't gone at once. There is plenty
of time to space out attendance, but everyone who intends to be trained
in Oracle must enroll in an Overview and Navigation session.
Sun Server On Order
options finally boiled down to one: Sun Microsystems Unix Solaris Operating
System with a decentralized approach. ISP and ITC staff weighed the alternatives
and came to the conclusion that the decentralized approach makes more
sense from an operations and economic standpoint.
"Sun will be coming out with a new operating
system within the year, and we will obviously want to, at some point,
take advantage of that new technology," says Bill Randolph, ISP project
director. "The decentralized approach is just as effective and less expensive
than the more centralized approach, and it makes sense not to spend more
since we may want to upgrade in the not so distant future. Jim Jokl in
ITC and our KPMG partners were key in making this important decision."
The Sun server now on order will take us at least
through the financial and human resources implementations and through
the upgrade to Oracle 11i, according to Randolph. "At that point we'll
determine when to upgrade the server."
New on the ISP Website
More information on desktop
Integrated Systems Glossary
of Acronyms and Terms
PTAO Card In the Works
The ISP construction crew is currently building more of the modifications
that will ease our way into the Oracle environment. One simple but useful
tool will be a web page on which users can specify the Project-Task-Award-Organization
combination or combinations they will charge to most frequently and print
out a card with that PTAO and a bar code for use in charging transactions
with internal service providers. The vendor will provide the "E" for expenditure
type. "This will be a lot easier than carrying around a 21 digit code
in our heads," notes Russ Dinsmore, ISP technical coordinator.
Also in the works is a behind-the-scenes PTAEO
validation table to assure that any PTAEOs entered into the system are
valid. "This will not prevent you from entering or providing the wrong
PTAEO," warns Dinsmore, "but at least it will be valid."
These are just two of the many technical projects underway
to both visibly and invisibly enhance the Oracle system for U.Va.
happens in the Integrated Systems Project without teamwork. Teams are
created to work on server selection, FAS to PTAEO conversion, budgeting
in Oracle, all in addition to the teams working on designing the applications
and doing development work. A team has been hard at work to make the ISIS
(Integrated Student Information System) legacy system work with the Oracle
applications until we implement an Oracle student system.
Members of the team include Ce Kimata from ITC,
Von Hubbard and Lynne Davis from Student Financial Services, Bill Randolph
and Dick Gross (KPMG) from ISP, and Anda Webb, associate dean for the
School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The team received significant
input from the ISIS managers group, school representatives who are involved
with financial aid transactions, and Kathy Reed from the Provost's office.
They have devised and are programming an approach
that allows the processing and tracking of different types of student
transactions (tuition and fee billing, loans, financial aid, etc.) through
a combination of ISIS and Oracle functionality. Users will be able to
use PTAEO with ISIS as long as the Award is "pre-registered" with ISIS.
ISIS will continue to operate, internally, using FAS numbers. And some
information will be available in the expenditure type description field
passed from ISIS to Oracle, such as student name, ID, and domicile.
The team expects to be able to begin testing
the interface between ISIS and Oracle sometime in January. "The ability
for Oracle to work with ISIS is as big an issue as any faced by the ISP,"
says Randolph. "We could never have reached this point without the commitment
of time, creativity, and hands-on work by the ISIS team. Once we came
together as a group, the design work progressed rapidly."
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the long term, we'll wonder how we ever survived without Oracle."