Volume 12, Number 6 November 5, 2004

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Start of financial system put back to ensure it runs smoothly

By Colleen MacPherson

To satisfy a commitment that the University’s new financial information system be running smoothly before it is implemented across campus, the “go live” date for UniFi has been pushed back to May 1 next year from Nov. 1.

Bob Elliott

Bob Elliott

Bob Elliott, UniFi (University Financial Information System) project manager in the Financial Services Division (FSD), said some technical difficulties with the system that was purchased along with PAWS and SI!, as well as the loss of key members of the implementation team led to the decision to delay. The delay will also ensure the project meets one of its guiding principles, he said, and that is “we not make any changes once the system is implemented.”

The new system will handle all the accounting and reporting needs of the University and will be used by an estimated 200 people who currently manage accounts outside the Financial Services Division (FSD). UniFi will manage accounts payable and receivable, purchasing, budget management, endowment management, research and project accounting, and fixed assets.

Throughout the $1.8-million implementation phase that started about a year ago, Elliott and his seven-member team have consulted various users in order to develop prototypes for different applications. In December, prototype demonstrations will be held on campus to solicit more feedback, Elliott said.

“One reason we’re proceeding this way is we want to understand more fully the impact on the campus community and we want to continue to refine the product.”

UniFi’s big advantage over the current system will be access to information, he said. Now, instead of waiting for month-end printed reports, users can “see where you’re at any time with respect to the accounts you’re managing and individual transactions like purchase requisitions.”

Using this example, the new system will allow for tracking of the requisition from the purchase order through receiving to invoice payment and cheque issuance. Constant real-time access to information “make it (UniFi) more efficient and more effective in managing our financial resources”.

Elliott explained that “best practices” were incorporated in UniFi during its development, and those best practices “will be transferred to the way we do business here at the University”. Part of that process will be training sessions for users. A training schedule will be announced by the end of January.

After implementation, FSD will provide ongoing training and consulting for UniFi users “to make sure we get the most we can out of the system,” he said. FSD staff will also work with users to “eliminate any duplicate or shadow systems people may be keeping to help them with their accounts”.

Elliott said his team is well aware of the difficulties that arise with major change “so we’ll proceed carefully and wisely, thinking about the users and what this change means to them.”

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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