Go to the U of M home page ESUP logo - click to go to ESUP website ESUP blog logo - click to go to ESUP blog

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Work Streams team up to improve the student refunds process

Collaboration between work streams has made certain that in the future, the University will spend less time and money maintaining PeopleSoft while still offering the same high level of service to students. The Student and Finance ESUP work streams have been cooperating to ensure that the University can retire several costly modifications to the Student Refunds process. Their work will allow the University to adopt Oracle’s off-the-shelf solution using the Accounts Payable module in Finance (EFS) for refunds rather than the current process of using the Payroll module in HRMS. Despite this change, students will continue receiving refunds quickly through direct deposit; checks will also be available on-demand when a student is granted an exception to the University’s direct deposit requirement. 

Lisa Luhmann Bass, Business Analyst for the Enterprise Financial System (EFS) Module Support area, has provided guidance as the Student Financials team learns more about the Accounts Payable processes. "The Student and Finance work streams work well together to ensure the University leverages delivered PeopleSoft functionality instead of relying on expensive customization,” says Luhmann Bass. “Our collaboration will also help ease the testing and implementation process." 

The groundwork for improving this process was started five years ago. From 2009 to 2011, Carolee Cohen from Academic Support Resources (ASR) chaired the Student Financials Product Advisory Group (PAG). These advisory groups work with other Universities and Oracle to resolve issues and determine improvements for PeopleSoft. Jack Kimmes, also from ASR, participated in a working group in 2010 that defined development requirements for the refund process. This included allowing students to use direct deposit to receive their refund and a method for University staff to create a refund check on-demand. 

“Participation in the PAG definitely helped ensure that necessary improvements were included in PeopleSoft 9.0. It’s nice to see our work pay off for the University,” said Cohen. Had those improvements not been made by Oracle, the University likely would have had to bring several modifications forward. 

Using the off-the-shelf Oracle process will involve some changes for both staff and students, but ESUP staff is hard at work creating training materials that will guide staff and students through those changes. Those interested in some of the specific changes that will be happening around refunding can check out “What’s Changing - Refunding.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ESUP thanks its unsung heroes

Last month ESUP hosted a recognition event for its staff to thank them for their effort to make the program a success. One of the highlights of the event was the acknowledgement of ESUP’s “Unsung Heroes.” ESUP employees nominated their co-workers who go above and beyond. According to Santiago Fernandez-Gimenez, ESUP director of change management, “We wanted to give staff members a way to recognize our colleagues for doing things that motivate and engage us to be our best selves in the workplace.” 

Staff nominated their colleagues expressing admiration and appreciation for the things they do. The unsung heroes were recognized for reasons ranging from upbeat positive attitudes to waking up at 4 a.m. every Wednesday to get to the Twin Cities from Duluth.

Three of the four "Unsung Hereos" recognized at the "Celebrate" event. From left to right: Aileen Lively, Holly Santiago, and Debbie Wing, not pictured Erin Schaffer.
The four unsung heroes recognized at the January event represented nearly 40 of their colleagues nominated among the ESUP staff. Fernandez-Gimenez put it best when he said, “The fact that we had so many staff members named as unsung heroes is a testament to the great collegiality and teamwork that ESUP is fostering here at the University.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Q & A with ESUP Integration Directors

Answers to help campus and collegiate units integrate their local applications with centralized systems

Change is a common theme for the Enterprise Systems Upgrade Program (ESUP). Some changes will take place centrally and ripple across the University. This may be true for University units with applications or systems that pull data from the three centralized systems, Finance, HRMS, and Student, to meet their needs.

Connecting with these units is the job of the ESUP Integration team. We asked Tim Gagner and Bill Collings, ESUP Integration project directors, a few questions about the integration part of the Program and how they are working with local University units to help them make use of the upgraded enterprise data.

Q: What is the Integration Team responsible for with ESUP?
A: Our main focus is on the system campuses, University units, colleges, and departments with applications or systems outside of the Finance, HRMS, and Student systems that use PeopleSoft (PS) data including real-time and nightly copies of the data, the Data Warehouse, and PS production environments.

So far, we’ve met with technical staff from nearly 50 University units who support their local systems and databases. The purpose of these meetings is to identify the systems leveraging PS data, discuss how the table definitions or data they depend on may change with ESUP, and talk about how these changes could affect their systems or applications.

Q: Why should University units outside of ESUP care about these changes?
A: Table and data changes resulting from ESUP could impact local systems, applications, and databases that pull data from these enterprise systems. Changes to underlying data structures or to the data like those stored for employees, students, and guests mean local units will need to modify their systems or it’s possible their tools will not work properly after launch.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sneak Peek: New importance of Position data

The HRMS work stream has released its latest “sneak peek” video, The Power of Position Management. This short video explains the new importance of Position data in the new HRMS system and the ways in which integrated Position data streamlines business processes from recruiting through workforce management. Check it out, then view and share previous sneak peek videos from the HRMS and other work streams.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

University Executives Establish Go Live Period for ESUP

Executives identify February 2015 as the optimal time to launch the University’s new enterprise systems

The Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) has been actively involved with the management and oversight of the Enterprise Systems Upgrade Program (ESUP) and is proud of the work done to date. At a recent planning retreat, the committee identified scope and quality as their key priorities and asked for scenarios that maximized time for quality code development and testing while fitting into the University’s business cycles.

ESUP staff assembled the scenarios, including various go live options with multiple staffing and timing alternatives. These analyses included application and reporting development, testing and defect management, risk management, anticipated sustainable staffing output, and contract and budget considerations.

Last week ESUP Executive Program Director Dennis Wenzel presented these options to the EOC. Based on the benefits, risks, and considerations available, the EOC identified February 2015 as the optimal time to begin go live activities.

Wenzel recently briefed President Kaler and the Operational Excellence committee, who agreed with the February 2015 period. “Launching in February allows ESUP to thoroughly test the system and spend the necessary time preparing University units to use the new systems,” Wenzel said.

The EOC believe the fully upgraded system will support the University’s operational excellence goals and long-term needs. Furthermore, the EOC believe the recommended date will allow ESUP to meet its rigorous scope and quality standards while remaining within the planned budget.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Announcing Changes in Finance/EFS - Part Two - PCards and Combo Codes

In this three-part series, we are exploring some of the changes for Finance or the Enterprise Financial System (EFS). Part One covered ChartField values, Workflow, and Approval changes. Stay tuned for Part Three in a future issue of the Upgrade.

As mentioned in Part One, for EFS this effort is an upgrade of the existing system. In general, we don’t expect or plan on massive changes to financial business processes. Nevertheless, we are taking this opportunity to make some changes and address major points. So far, after reviewing the proposed changes to EFS, stakeholder representatives and financial advisory groups have welcomed the new procedures and approaches coming with ESUP.   

For more information about the planned changes see Potential for Change by Module in EFS.

Will the PCard reconciliation process in EFS change significantly?

Yes. People who work in EFS with PCard activity asked for increased efficiency in the purchasing card activity validation and reconciliation processes. This is the one area where a large amount of system change will occur. The business process is not really changing though, just where it is handled in the system.

  • The business process steps are mostly the same: people make purchases with their cards, need to provide receipts and justifications, that information needs to be recorded in the system, it needs to be reviewed and approved, and so on. 
  • The mechanics of the online PCard reconciliation process is being entirely redesigned. The reconciling work will now take place using the “My Wallet” functions available in the Expenses module. People will need Travel & Expense Preparer access to reconcile PCards. Those reconciling cards in the future will need to take the travel & expense preparer class to gain access. All PCard preparers continuing to perform this function should expect to take some sort of training prior to go-live.
  • Departments have the option of allowing cardholders access to My Wallet so they can enter justifications for their activity online, then pass the transaction over to a Travel & Expense Preparer to complete the processing of the transaction within EFS.
  • Approvals for PCard activity will take place in the Expenses module and will be consistent with other approval set-up and configuration for other transaction types—there will be one primary approver for a department and a pool of alternates instead of one approver and one alternate for each individual PCard.

What’s happening with Combo Codes as a result of the upgrade?

Accountants and others asked for improvements in Payroll Accounting. On the original list of Finance pain points this was called, “improved integration with HRMS.” We are making many improvements and changes to the Payroll Accounting processes occurring in HRMS. One area particularly frustrating for everyone, not just the Finance community, is Combo Codes--there are too many, and they’re difficult to use.

Highlights of coming changes:

  • All of the Combination Codes will be completely regenerated using a more recognizable numbering system. The Combo Codes will begin with the Fund, Department ID, and Program or Project, to enable people to more easily identify which code to use.
  • Account codes will no longer be part of the Combo Code, rather they will be inferred from employee type. For example, instead of needing one Combo Code for faculty, one for P&A, one for Civil Service, and so on, a department can use one Combo Code for all of the types of employees paid on a Fund/DeptID/Program. This dramatically reduces the number of required codes. It also makes finding the right code easier when using lookup functions.

As ESUP makes progress, we will provide additional details and information about coming changes coming in Finance and the other work streams so stakeholders can get a better idea of their impact. Please send an email to esup@umn.edu if you have questions about any of the topics covered so far. Watch for part three of this series about coming Finance changes in future issues of The Upgrade.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ESUP in the News

ESUP’s leadership have participated in a few conversations with the Minnesota Daily this winter. The discussions have been interesting and likely informative to the University community, but some comments in each article require further explanation.

In a January 23, 2014 article in the Minnesota Daily, Dean Elde spoke about accessibility concerns and how ESUP might be able to help. (Read the article here.)

The article suggests ESUP will include “internally coding University websites to make them readable for people with low vision…”.  ESUP is working hard to make self-service functionality like the new Student Center and Faculty Center areas accessible to all users, but the accessibility of other University websites is not in scope for the program.

On February 5, 2014, the MN Daily published an interview with Dean Elde and Executive Program Director Dennis Wenzel. (Read the article here.)

In that article, Dean Elde is cited as saying the program will have an impact on “managing the benefits rates for University employees and students.” In actuality, the work done on ESUP will result in fewer fringe rates; there will be no change to benefit rates as a result of ESUP.

Later in the same article, there is reference to two-factor authentication when working between systems and the amount of time students will remain logged in to the new University Portal, reporting that, “they [the portal] will just know what systems you have access to, and you won’t have to be reauthenticated for the different parts of the system that you want to go into.”

The first part of that statement is correct--the new University Portal will know to which systems each user has access. However, staff who currently use non-self service parts of the PeopleSoft (PS) system will still be required to use two-factor authentication. At that point, users should be able to move between PS and non-PS systems without reauthenticating.

ESUP has not yet identified the timeout duration for users. Currently, the non self-service PS applications have a 1 hour inactivity timeout, whereas many self-service applications have a 20 minute timeout. Business project directors are still reviewing timeout requirements for ESUP.

Friday, February 7, 2014

ESUP launches new website

ESUP is excited to unveil its newly ‘upgraded’ website at upgrade.umn.edu as the front door to the Program!

Aside from an updated look, users will enjoy:

  • improved navigation making it easier to find information, 
  • simplified language to engage the Program’s broad stakeholder community, and
  • easier access to ESUP updates from the Upgrade newsletter and blog.

The new site should not change existing bookmarks, links, and placeholders from the old site. Take a look around and let us know what you think. If there’s information you’d like to see on upgrade.umn.edu, send a quick email to esup@umn.edu.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

HRMS completes design phase;
development and testing underway

The HRMS work stream wrapped up Phase 2: Analyze & Design activities at the end of January with the completion of design and documentation for the HR, Payroll Accounting, and Time & Labor modules. While the design phase for these three modules took longer than expected, HRMS project director Kris Hause said that development and testing work is already underway where possible.

“Our project team, subject matter experts, and stakeholders have done amazing work over the past year to redesign and simplify our business processes and reduce system modifications,” Hause said. “We refer to this project as an upgrade, but in truth, we are re-implementing our HRMS system in most areas. The design work has been significant, but in many areas, we’ve started application development and are preparing to test our designs. It’s exciting to turn this corner and look ahead toward a successful implementation.”

With system design completed, the HRMS work stream will be putting additional emphasis on communications, training and change management activities in the coming months. Audience-specific training courses and materials are being developed this spring, with registration tentatively slated for late April for courses to be delivered this summer. System users can expect online and print materials to be available at system implementation, as well.

Vice President for the Office of Human Resources Kathy Brown and Director of HR Operations Lori Lamb expressed their appreciation for the efforts and collaboration of everyone involved in the HRMS project to date.

“So many people have worked hard to get us to this point, and they deserve our recognition and thanks,” said Brown. “We still have a lot of work to do over the next year—but we should all take a moment to celebrate this milestone. You’ve done a great job, and our HR enterprise will be stronger because of your efforts.”

“I’ve said it before: the level of collaboration—both within HRMS and between HRMS and other work streams—has been outstanding,” Lamb said. “That in itself is a big win for the University.”