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Annals of Reengineering

SAP Rollout Continues

Janet Snover

Following a detailed planning effort, the rollout of SAP to departments, labs, and centers (DLCs) has begun, and financial staff in your areas are being trained for more extensive use of the software.

Though SAP has been MITís "system of record" since September 1996, the software has been used primarily by central offices such as the Controllerís Accounting Office (CAO), Purchasing, and the Office of Sponsored Programs. Staff in DLCs were trained (beginning last August) to use SAP for looking up accounts payable and purchasing information, displaying sponsored billing data, and for generic reports such as an account summary and detailed transaction report. Now, staff in DLCs are becoming more active SAP users.

Major goals for the rollout include the following: give DLCs a tool for directly controlling the authorizations of who can do what in SAP; allow full use of MITís new financial architecture; simplify procurement by DLCs and reduce central "back office" expenses; speed up fiscal year-end closing and increase the visibility of financial data; and reduce central operational costs and multiple administrative systems.

Milestones

The first milestone in the rollout is called Status and Departmental Education. The Management Reporting Project, which is leading the implementation effort, held information sessions in late March to give administrative officers background on the timing and content of the rollout. These sessions were followed in April by a series of "Concept Workshops" on the following topics: Planning Your Departmentís SAP Implementation, Financial Architecture, Purchasing with SAP, and MIT Reporting Strategy. These workshops provided the information that administrative and financial officers needed to help plan how they will use SAP and who are the appropriate people to train.

The second milestone, Extended Reporting, begins in mid-May and is expected to run through mid-July. It will provide tools that assist in departmental budgeting, the Executive Information System (for summary financial data), internal provider billing, manual reservations (for setting aside money that will be spent later), SAP printing and reporting, and the MIT Help Desk.

Phased Offerings is the name of the third milestone, which runs from mid-April through August. Functions here include the MIT credit card, the Data Warehouse, the electronic catalog (ECAT), electronic journal vouchers (internal MIT accounting entries), and purchasing from NECX for computers. Departments will decide when they want to begin using these offerings.

The largest and most complex milestone is number four, called Procurement. Training and "go live" are scheduled to run from September 1 through December 31. This milestone will include change orders to purchase orders, ECAT II, funds availability checking, internal provider requisitioning, the labor distribution system, and contracts (blanket orders) and requisitions in SAP.

The kinds of questions that must be answered in DLCs to prepare for procurement include the following:

Milestone five, from mid-September to the end of 1998, covers many technical and infrastructure issues as well as Phase III planning. Conversion of legacy systems will be a major part of this milestone.

Pilots

The Sloan School of Management and the Administrative Services Organization (ASO) in the School of Engineering have served as pilot sites for SAP. Lessons learned from the first pilot at Sloan resulted in a smoother experience for the ASO. "Itís been a really positive process for us, and I think youíll be pleased with SAP," Elizabeth Cooper, director of the ASO, told administrative officers at the first information session in March. She reported that ASO was having minimal problems, and that she and her staff were rapidly gaining experience in using the software.

Support services

Many MIT staff members and offices are involved in supporting the rollout as it goes forward. Staff in the new School Coordinator positions provide a liaison among Management Reporting, the DLCs, the Accounting Office, Audit Division, and Information Systems. Another important part of the School Coordinatorsí role is to consult with administrative and financial officers to help them analyze their needs. The Coordinators report jointly to Katherine Cochrane, director of the Management Reporting Project, and to Doreen Morris, assistant provost for administration.

Management Reportingís training and documentation team continues to play a key role in the implementation of SAP. They have already trained more than 800 staff members in SAP basic skills and reporting, and have issued documentation in print and on the Web. As with the pilots, user comments about the first phase of training are helping to improve the next set of classes that are being developed. After users have had training in the new functions, they will be able to practice their skills in whatís called the "sandbox" environment before they start doing live work in SAP.

The Help Desk will provide assistance to people with basic questions and replicable problems using SAP. In addition, Information Systems will provide a new business liaison function later in the spring for the deeper technical needs and business issues that arise.

Faculty with questions about the SAP implementation may contact Robert Murray, communications manager for the Project, at 258-7318, e-mail <rmurray@mit.edu>.

Fiscal year closing

Another topic related to finances, which will affect some staff members in your areas, involves changes in the closing procedures for fiscal year 1998. A government-required A-133 audit means that MIT needs to complete the closing of its financial books a month sooner than in prior years. In addition, the Audit Committee of the MIT Corporation requested that the closing be finished earlier so that senior management would have access to the information more quickly.

According to Controller James Morgan, CAO will work closely with departments throughout the process. There will be an early cutoff -- June 26 this year - for internal billing units. Departmental staff are being trained to do journal vouchers electronically in SAP, which will save time and effort. All academic units will be able to carry forward unexpended general funds automatically. (Academic units are areas that report to the five Schools, the Vice President for Research, the Provost and Associate Provosts, the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education, and the Libraries.)

Faculty with questions about the closing may contact Controller James Morgan at x3-2749, e-mail <jlmorgan@mit.edu>.

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