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ISP News
December 12, 2000

Conference Room Pilots a Success
Mary 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 hours.
     "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 the first."
     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, 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 on-line help.
     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
The 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 requirements
Integrated Systems Glossary of Acronyms and Terms

A 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.

ISIS Solution Evolves
Nothing 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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September 22, 2000
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Fall 2000


"In the long term, we'll wonder how we ever survived without Oracle."

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2001 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia
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