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December 5, 2012
By Claudene Wharton
The University has initiated actions to revise its finance and human resources systems as part of the iNtegrate project initiated by NSHE six years ago. The goal of the project is to replace all central automated administrative systems with more current technologies that will facilitate greater efficiency, expedite processes and integrate administrative systems across NSHE campuses for data maintenance and retrieval. The initiative to replace finance and human resources systems is the second phase of the iNtegrate project.
The first phase of the project, which replaced the automated student systems, is now complete. Students enter the system through a portal, MyNEVADA, and the system allows for much more detailed tracking of student data, as well as more efficient communication between the University and each student.
"It is a complex and powerful information system, so it took a while to get everyone up to speed," said Melisa Choroszy, associate vice president of enrollment services at the University. "But, its communications abilities are phenomenal - that is the biggest improvement. It is available 24/7 and is a one-stop shop."
The system allows students to plan, register, track their progress, look at grades, check on their financial aid and more, all through one portal. And, administrators communicate with students through the same system, posting notices to inform students if they are missing documents or if it is time for them to register, for example. Faculty members use the system too, maintaining class rosters, posting grades and more.
Choroszy said the system provides much more information regarding student characteristics and trends. Data on class and program demand provide valuable information when planning course offerings, for example.
The second phase of the project is focused on the replacement of existing finance and human resource systems.
"The iNtegrate project presents the opportunity to update both our business processes and our technologies," said Ron Zurek, the University's vice president of administration and finance. "This implementation will allow us to expedite some of the work we do, increase our level of service to the campus community and further improve information sharing across the NSHE campuses."
As part of this second phase, a common chart of accounts - a list of the accounts defining each class of items for which funds are spent or received - has been developed to use systemwide throughout NSHE.
A business-consulting group, Huron Consulting Group, is meeting with various administrators, faculty and staff to identify and review current processes being used. They will then make recommendations for "best practices" in these business functions to be used systemwide.
"This should lead to some immediate increased efficiencies, and then to the design of a new system," said Tim McFarling, assistant vice president of human resources at the University. "These best practices will drive what is needed in a new system."
McFarling said many business processes can be improved, while remaining compliant with state and federal regulations. New software and technologies are desperately needed to better service faculty, staff and ultimately students, he said.
"The existing Human Resource Management System has limitations," he explained. "The vendor isn't really supporting the system anymore, which limits our ability to respond to employee needs and management information requests."
Tom Judy, associate vice president of business and finance at the University is also looking forward to new software and systems.
"I was able to see some new systems being offered by potential vendors at a conference recently," he said. "I was very impressed. What we need is some of these state-of-the-art systems."
Judy and McFarling said a new system will facilitate greater efficiencies in processes such as recruitment, purchasing, grants and contracts, travel, payroll, benefit administration, inventory control and budget development and tracking. They look forward to being able to make greater use of things such as electronic signatures to speed up some processes. They also recognize that developing and choosing one set of practices and software to be used across NSHE will require a lot of collaboration and some compromise, as well as a few years to attain full implementation and reap the benefits. But in the long run, they acknowledge that it will be well worth the time and effort.
"We need to revamp, and this is a real opportunity to develop a system which will better support our employee base," McFarling said.
"We very much appreciate the support of all who have been involved in this, including those who have supported the system implementation and the end-users," said Zurek.
Anticipated Timeline - Phase Two