The University Record, January 23, 1996

New system will make records easier, faster to access

The University of Michigan has signed a $3.5 million contract with PeopleSoft Inc. to provide the U-M with computer software that will revise the current financial, human resource and student information systems over a four-year period.

"This is an exciting step for the University," says Randy Harris, associate vice president for finance. "This is a springboard into the next century for us."

The University has been developing for the past three years a strategic plan that would make financial, human resource and student data available to those who need it across organizational boundaries within the University community.

"What we are talking about is changing the way the University conducts its administrative processes so that they better serve our students, staff, faculty and citizens of the state. PeopleSoft is the vehicle to make that happen," says University Registrar Laura M. Patterson. Patterson and Harris chair two of the teams that are involved in the implementation of the software.

For example, says Patterson, students now are expected to complete separate applications for admissions, financial aid, housing and orientation. A goal is to streamline those activities into a single application process for students.

Currently, Harris notes, student, financial and human resource data are totally separate systems. "Under the new system," he says, "if you were trying to make a decision about how many sections of a course to offer, you could get information about student demand, faculty availability and the budget impact of offering additional courses. Pulling all that information together now is a labor-intensive process."

After reviewing proposals from several companies, a Universitywide review committee chose PeopleSoft because its currently available software matched most closely the University's requirements.

"PeopleSoft emerged as the one vendor to most closely meet both functional and technical requirements," says Renee Frost, a director for the Information Technology Division and a member of the Process Management Lead Team, which had ultimate responsibility for finding a complete replacement for the University's current data system.

In addition to human resource data and financial data software that PeopleSoft currently has available, the University will work with the company and several other universities across the country to develop software that will integrate with the other two data systems to provide information for and about students.

In developing this system, the University has "a unique opportunity to influence the product and how it works," says Patterson.

Patterson and Harris both note that security and privacy issues will be addressed as the systems are developed and fit into the University.

The University's effort to find a new system was hastened by the fact that many of its current systems will not operate correctly in the year 2000 because of the way they store dates. Patterson says University personnel "are already feeling this impact in some of our systems."