The University Record, December 14, 1998

Life after M-Pathways: A structure takes shape

By Gretchen Weir

The question

Who is responsible for overseeing M-Pathways systems after they are in operation? Now that several M-Pathways systems—Space Management, Financials (General Ledger and Procurement), and the first part of Student Administration (Student Recruiting/Admissions)—are in place, this question must be addressed.

While the M-Pathways project was charged with creating new information systems, it was never intended to be a permanent organization. Yet, ongoing tasks remain:

• What changes should be made once a system is in production?

• Are new policies and procedures being communicated widely and employed consistently?

• If one system is enhanced, will the changes be compatible with other systems?

• How will ongoing training and services such as Online Help and the Help Desk be provided?

• How will “production” systems and the later M-Pathways systems, Research, Student, and Human Resources Administration, be integrated?

Traditionally, the organization that “owned” a system was responsible for its stewardship. Financial Operations, offices within Academic Affairs, Human Resources and the Division of Research Development and Administration (DRDA) have maintained separate systems and safeguarded their own data. The Information Technology Division (ITD) has provided technical support. Because M-Pathways systems cut across organizational lines, tightly interweaving processes with technology, this approach is no longer feasible.

The answer

The University has designated six Core Process Units (CPUs) that will be responsible for working together to maintain M-Pathways systems. They are Financial/Physical Resources, Research, Human Resources, Student Administration, Development, and Student Co-Curricular. The associate vice president (or equivalent) of each area will decide on the structure of their Core Process Unit.

Tim Slottow, associate vice president for finance and Henry Baier, interim associate vice president for business operations, are working together to set up a joint Core Process Unit (CPU) for financial and physical resource information. They appointed a team, led by Phil Abruzzi, director of Purchasing and Stores, that has developed a model for how the core process area should be organized.

Lester Monts, associate provost for academic affairs, has undertaken a similar effort in his area to prepare for stewardship of the Student Administration system. “Our goal in creating a CPU consisting of the offices of the Registrar, Financial Aid, Undergraduate Admissions, Student Accounting and Rackham Student Administration,” Monts says, “is to provide efficient and seamless student services and information in the post-M-Pathways era.”

The transition teams for the Student and Financial/Physical CPUs have met to see if their models are compatible. At the same time, the Process Management Lead Team is working on a governance structure that will resolve conflicts between CPUs.

Schools and colleges have participated in the creation of these new organizations. Their input is important. Administrators know that the University will not realize the potential of its large investment in M-Pathways unless schools, colleges, hospitals, central offices, research institutes and other administrative offices are supported in their access and use of these systems.

In addition to charging associate vice presidents with creating core process units, the executive officers have charged ITD to partner with the CPUs to provide application and technical environment support.

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