The University Record, July 17, 2000

M-Pathways ShortCodes coming soon

By Linda Green
M-Pathways

In August, the University is introducing one common coding method, called the ShortCode. A ShortCode will represent a specific ChartField combination and make it easier for people who buy goods and services from prime vendors and internal University services units to conduct business. The ShortCode will replace individual coding systems currently used at University Stores and Mail Services, and by prime vendors. The new ShortCode is a six-digit number that represents a string of ChartFields (excluding budget year and account). Initially, the ShortCode will be the old legacy account number, when one already exists.

Beginning Aug. 1, either the ShortCode or ChartField combination can be used for procuring goods and services from internal University service units. ShortCodes will be required for all transactions with prime vendors. Prime vendors are trained and ready to accept ShortCodes, just as they now accept contract numbers, according to Virginia Geren, training coordinator with the Financial Physical Resources CPU. A complete list of the University’s prime vendors can be found on the Web at www.umich.edu/~purch/purch/contract/prime.html.

The University’s prime vendors (Boise Cascade, Fisher Scientific, etc.), could not incorporate the ChartField combinations into their own accounting systems. Some University service units, such as University Stores and Mail Services, use systems that don’t accommodate the M-Pathways financial ChartField structure. This resulted in different units using different codes to represent the same set of ChartFields for purchasing goods and services.

“The goal is to consolidate the use of many codes that represent ChartFields into one common code,” says John Lindner, senior core process consultant in the Financial Physical Resources Core Process Unit (CPU) and the ShortCode project lead. “With the ShortCodes, units will still have the flexibility to mix and match their ChartFields to meet their reporting needs. The ShortCode will allow a ChartField combination to be expressed in an abbreviated (short) manner.”

Although ShortCodes already exist for many ChartField combinations used for procuring goods via prime vendors, users will need to get new ShortCodes assigned for those ChartField combinations that don’t have a legacy account associated with them. Units should request new ShortCodes from Financial Operations. The unit’s organization manager is the person authorized to request new ShortCodes. The process for new sponsored grants or contracts will remain the same as it is today (ShortCode gets created when the award is received), and a related cost sharing ShortCode will be created, if appropriate. The form for requesting new ShortCodes can be found on the Web at www.umich.edu/~finops/FormsReports/Forms/.

In July 1998, when M-Pathways implemented the first major financial system upgrade in 25 years, the University’s financial community was introduced to the concept of ChartFields. A ChartField, more accurately defined as a ChartField combination, is a string of characters that describes a specific financial activity within the University. ChartFields are the foundation on which the entire M-Pathways financial system is built.

“ShortCodes cannot be used directly in the M-Pathways Financial system,” Geren cautions. Purchase Orders, requisitions and non-P.O. vouchers, as well as P-Card transactions, will continue to use ChartField combinations only, just as they do today. All financial information in the M-Pathways system continues to be maintained with ChartFields only.

University Stores has a Web site to help ease the transition between Contract Numbers and ShortCodes. Units can look up a current ChartField combination on the Web at www.mstores.umich.edu/shortcode to see if there is a ShortCode and/or Contract Number already associated with it. A ChartField conversion table also is available in the M-Pathways Financial Data Warehouse.

Questions about ShortCodes should be directed to the M-Pathways Help Desk, (734) 936-7000 or mpathwayshelpdesk@umich.edu. There also is more information available on the Web at www.mpathways.umich.edu/fin/shortcodes.html.