The University Record, January 22, 2001

July 1 targeted for switch of HR processes to M-Pathways

By Linda Hancock Green
Michigan Administrative Information Services

The University will accomplish a third major administrative information system implementation in July when the M-Pathways Project implements a new human resource, payroll, benefit administration, and time and labor management system. This system, the Human Resource Management System (HRMS), “puts in place a new, integrated administrative data infrastructure that completes the vision mapped out in the University’s 1995 Strategic Data Plan,” says Laura Patterson, associate vice president for administrative information systems and HRMS project manager. “Completing this phase of the plan provides the data and the technical infrastructure that will allow the University to take advantage of new technologies and proceed with new e-business, executive information reporting systems and performance management opportunities that are not possible today.”

“All University faculty and employees will see some changes brought about by the new system,” said Barbara Butterfield, associate vice president for human resources and affirmative action, and chief human resource officer.

Staff in the central offices—Human Resources and Affirmative Action (HR/AA), Benefits, Payroll and Medical Campus Human Resources—will use the new M-Pathways (PeopleSoft) software to feed information into the new system. Staff in the schools, colleges, Health System, and administrative units in Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn will use new and revised paper forms to provide information to the central offices and also will add information directly to the database using Web-based transactions.

One of the changes that employees will see is an improved interactive voice response telephone line for benefits administration. Employees will be able to make changes in their benefit status throughout the year, instead of only in the fall as part of open enrollment.

The new system includes hiring process improvements that should decrease the amount of time needed before a position can be posted. Staff in the units can use a Web-based process to create and submit job postings and then send them for review via e-mail. Approved jobs will be posted on the University’s Web site the next day. Personal, appointment and funding changes will be made in the new system after July 1. Training administration and registration for workshops and classes offered by Human Resource Development, the Medical Campus Human Resource Organizational Effectiveness Office and MAIS (M-Pathways) will be streamlined. Other HR/AA and Medical Campus Human Resource Development (MCHRD) processes also will be affected by the new system.

Timekeepers in the Hospitals and Health Centers (HHC) and M-CARE will begin to use an electronic time entry process in the new system that will provide sick time, vacation time and paid-time-off information to the Payroll Office. “Representatives from the HHC have been working with the M-Pathways Project Team to ensure that the new system will meet our needs and accommodate our policies,” says Laurita Thomas, human resource administrator for the Health System. “Representatives from the Heath System are working on the M-Pathways Project to ensure that our staff will be trained and ready to use the new system when it is implemented.”

Staff on the Flint and Dearborn campuses will have improved access to the same data that is available to Employment Services and MCHRD. They also will be able to take advantage of online job requisition and posting capabilities and have access to the integrated database that stores employment application data for temporary and regular employees.

“HRMS is ‘data rich,’” says Marty Eichstadt, director of the Benefits Office, “and using the system reduces redundant data entry and provides a high level of data integrity and accuracy.” Staff will find that the system provides greater flexibility and potential for producing reports and that problem records can be more easily identified and resolved.

Preparations for the July launch are already under way. Plans have been established to ensure that staff in the central offices and campus units are ready to use the new system, and training will begin in April. Five separate data conversion tests will be completed before implementation to ensure that the base system contains accurate human resource and payroll data. Stress tests, load balancing and fine-tuning of the technical infrastructure are scheduled. Staff will verify readiness when they participate in a comprehensive “dress rehearsal” in June to make sure that all the systems and processes work together. Other checkpoints are in place, and each critical deadline will be carefully reviewed to ensure that staff are comfortable with and ready to use HRMS, and that the system runs effectively.

“We learned so much from the previous M-Pathways Financial and Student Administration implementations, and we’re applying those ‘lessons learned’ to HRMS,” Patterson says. “We have two primary goals that we will meet before we implement the new system on July 1. First, we’ll have thoroughly tested the payroll system to know that it works accurately and effectively. Second, the data we convert from the current system into HRMS will be accurate and available.”