Financial Systems Services

In September 2002, Financial Systems Services (FSS) put in place a new organizational framework to better fulfill their core purpose of providing outstanding service around high-impact, SAP-based, integrated business solutions that enable MIT administrators to carry out the mission of the Institute.

FSS leadership devoted considerable time and effort over the summer of 2002 to designing an organization that is structured for optimal flexibility in meeting the changing demands of users, technology, and Institute priorities; is characterized by efficient scalability of operations, and is establishing itself as a key player in making decisions on major business processes. This was achieved by instituting a performance management systems with emphasis on clear expectations and accountability, developing a project methodology, and communicating value-added by taking on initiatives like the implementation of budgeting in SAP.

FSS director Wayne Turner leads a new management team, which includes an associate director and six group/project leaders. The structure consists of seven teams grouped by functional or affinity skills. The teams are: Community Outreach, Financial, Human Resources/Payroll, Learning and Documentation, Logistics, Technical Services/Quality Assurance, and Web Services. In addition, peer groups were created to foster cross-team collaboration, communication, and professional development.

Being of service is the most important core value within FSS. As the new organizational structure evolves, FSS client managers will offer our clients a single entry point into the FSS organization. The client manager concept will be developed and piloted in FY2004.


HR-Payroll Project

The Human Resources (HR) phase of the HR-Payroll Project will be implemented in late August 2003. The incremental steps building towards this milestone have resulted in several improved policies and new services for the MIT community. These services are part of the ongoing collaborative work among the FSS HR-Payroll Project, Human Resources, Controller's Accounting Office (CAO), and Information Systems (IS) to improve MIT business processes and services.

Policy recommendations put forth by the Policy Advisory Group, a leadership committee assisting with the HR-Payroll Project, resulted in significant improvements to the Vacation and Bereavement Leave policies that went into effect November 1, 2002. Policy recommendations made by an HR-Payroll Project Business Process Redesign (BPR) Team resulted in several improvements to Tuition Assistance Plan policies that went into effect January 1, 2003.

New web-based employee self-service (ESS) tools were delivered in August 2002 that allow faculty and staff who work on campus to view their MIT benefits and to update office and home address and contact information online. In addition, new hires were given the ability to select their benefit choices on the web using ESS. In May 2003, ESS tools were made available that allow eligible employees to manage their tuition assistance benefit online.

The HR Contact Database was implemented in November 2002. The Contact Database replaces a database used internally by HR to keep track of contacts in the departments, labs, and centers (DLCs). HR works with DLC contacts to answer questions and to route paperwork related to personnel actions and letters. The Contact Database utilizes the Roles Database to provide a central place where authorized users in the DLCs can view and update this information.

In January 2003, the HR Department implemented many improvements to the New Hire and Applicant Tracking processes based on recommendations made by several HR-Payroll Project BPR teams. These improvements include a new Employee Orientation program and enhancements to WebHire, a web-based job requisition and candidate management recruitment solution.

The Employee Payroll phase of the HR-Payroll Project began in May 2003 with the formation of the Payroll BPR Planning team. This team is responsible for planning and managing the work of the Payroll BPR teams.

The SAP Pension Payroll module will be delivered to the Controller's Accounting Office in December 2003. This implementation will integrate Pension Payroll and Human Resources data. Specifically, this refers to Benefits integration, which will relieve the Pension Payroll system of maintaining the payroll deductions and rates of the health plans and insurance plans.

The Graduate Aid Simplification Team (GAST) is a BPR team of the HR-Payroll Project. The team, co-led by the Community Outreach team lead of FSS, includes staff from the CAO-Payroll Office, Student Services Information Technology (SSIT), HR, and an academic department administrator. It is charged to recommend a clear and consistent method for making graduate student awards and appointments that is integrated with SAP HR-Payroll.

The Graduate Aid Curriculum Development (GACD) Team, a sub-team of GAST, developed and piloted standardized training and education in business policy, best practice, and technical systems for administrators involved in the graduate aid process. The team, which includes staff members from FSS, Provost's Office, HR, and SSIT, also produced a comprehensive Graduate Aid Reference Guide to supplement the material presented in the Graduate Aid Curriculum. The standardized training and reference materials provide administrators with relevant and detailed information about all aspects of the Institute's graduate aid process. The GACD team leader of FSS worked with project managers and programmers from SSIT in their discovery effort to determine the feasibility of developing a web-based data entry tool for processing graduate awards and appointments. Development of the web-based tool is now underway, with a projected delivery of spring 2004.

The Graduate Research Assistant (RA)Tuition Team, also a sub-team of GAST, working with staff from CAO, the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Provost's Office and SSIT, is looking to develop a method to remove the tuition component of Graduate RA appointments from the payroll system. It is anticipated that a workable solution would provide significant cost-savings by reducing the amount of labor required to enter data for graduate research assistant appointments, to reconcile the accounting, and to generate reports.

Lincoln Laboratory

FSS supported the installation of SAP at Lincoln Laboratory with several full- and part-time staff. This large project is coming to fruition during 2003, with Lincoln Laboratory beginning to use SAP for HR in May 2003, for purchasing in September 2003, and for accounting, inventory, plant maintenance, property management, and time collection in October 2003. After the initial implementation is complete, FSS in collaboration with the Lincoln Fiscal Office (a unit of the Controller's Accounting Office), will provide ongoing support for SAP in the areas of accounting, property management, and time collection. FSS can leverage its knowledge from the campus SAP implementation to support these areas at Lincoln Laboratory, thereby reducing the total cost of SAP operations for the Institute.

Environmental, Health, and Safety Management Project

The Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) management system is being designed by an Ad Hoc EHS Subcommittee of senior faculty and administrators, which is cochaired by the vice president for research and the managing director for environmental programs, and is supported by working committees and project teams including staff from the departments, labs, and centers (DLCs), the Environmental Programs Office (EPO), and the EHS Office. A number of significant accomplishments were achieved during FY2003:

Over the next two to three years, technology will play an increasingly important role in the EHS Management System, enabling members of the EHS Office, DLCs, and end users to implement various aspects of the management system in a labor and cost efficient manner.

Sponsored Billing

In January 2003, a new MIT solution for billing sponsors was implemented in SAP on campus. The program runs seven times faster than its predecessor, allowing CAO to produce and mail bills to sponsors five to six days earlier than had previously been possible. It has the added benefit of being much simpler to maintain. The program also will be included in the Lincoln Laboratory SAP implementation planned for October 2003.

This program replaced a transaction that was being desupported by SAP. It was developed to address requirements gaps at Lincoln Laboratory and campus for cost reimbursable billing. MIT was invited to present this solution at the Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG) in May 2003, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

SAP R/3 Infrastructure Update

In January 2003, FSS and IS' R/3 Administration group began preparations for the application of SAP support packs to the R/3 environments. (SAP support packs are collections of individual corrections and patches for SAP products. The periodic application of these support packs keeps an SAP R/3 environment up to date with SAP's environment recommendations). The support packs were applied to the production environment in late April 2003.

A requirement that was different from MIT's previous support pack application was to minimize the time it took to complete the project. It was determined that testing would be limited to critical Institute business functions. These critical business functions were determined by leveraging a risk assessment exercise that the FSS Quality Assurance group performed the previous year.

This was a collaborative effort between FSS and IS. Central office staff performed many test exercises and the MIT community was informed through email communications, MIT web page updates, and Tech Talk articles.

This effort was a success on multiple fronts, including cross-departmental team building, effective communications, and the ability to leverage an existing work product—the FSS-QA Risk Assessment—to shorten overall test requirements, therefore reducing the amount of time required to test and gain additional infrastructure update process efficiencies.

SAPBUD Project

In June 2003, a project was kicked off that will replace the existing NIMBUS budgeting tool that the Office of Budget and Financial Planning (OBFP) and the community use to produce budgets at MIT.

This project will use a phased implementation model and address the following business processes and areas: Budget Development; Submission and Verification; Budget Data Management and Reporting; and Planning and Forecasting Tools.

The core project team includes FSS and OBFP staff members, and they have identified several areas and efforts where other MIT administrative and departmental staff will be involved. The Phase I pilot is scheduled for January 2004 and will encompass the replacement of the NIMBUS web functions, including budget development, submission, and verification. The Phase II pilot is scheduled for July 2004 and will target the replacement of the NIMBUS transaction database and calculation engine, including budget data management and reporting.

In an effort to involve the DLC community early in the process, FSS business consultants are working with the core project team to identify opportunities to gather community input on the budgeting and planning process at MIT.

Plant Maintenance

The FSS Logistics Team and the Department of Facilities are collaborating on a discovery effort to determine if SAP's Plant Maintenance module could play a role at MIT. Currently, the Department of Facilities uses a product called Maximo for work order creation and notification. To gain efficiencies in planning and product life cycle management, Facilities needs to either enhance their Maximo implementation or look to SAP Plant Maintenance for the functionality while also taking advantage of the integration with the SAP financial and HR modules.

The discovery effort is co-led by FSS and Facilities. The discovery effort will begin in September 2003 and continue for three months. Deliverables will include business process mapping, gap analysis, cost/benefit study, and a project plan for implementation.

Future Goals

In carrying out our core purpose of providing outstanding service around integrated business solutions, we strive to remain in alignment with Institute objectives. Generally speaking, our goals for the future have to do with increasing the return on the investment that MIT has made in its SAP enterprise resource planning software. The Institute purchased SAP in order to have a single enterprise system supporting all of its core business processes—including financials, payroll, human resources, materials management and facilities/maintenance management. The implementations of the finance, materials management, and human resource/payroll modules of SAP are just the first steps in achieving the Institute's objective.

Expanding our customers' use of SAP going forward will mean real progress in the gradual migration to one-stop shopping. Judicious investment in the near term will significantly improve customers' administrative systems experience in the future. That is an experience that currently involves having to work with nearly a dozen different systems.

With most of the key modules now stabilized, we need to continue with the evolution of SAP functionality. In that regard, it is important to keep in mind what SAP brings to the table. As one of the leading providers of business application software, SAP is able to provide the Institute with the expectation of sustainability.

Wayne Turner

More information about Financial Systems Services can be found on the web at


return to top
Table of Contents