BU Today

Campus Life

Today, BUworks Answers Your Questions

Live chat with expert panel at 10 a.m.


BUworks, the business project designed to update and streamline the tracking of expenditures and move human resource functions from paper to online, among other things, hit some turbulence when it launched in July. It went down three times, worked too slowly to satisfy many people, and its language could be hard to understand. Many people said it made things harder, not easier, and some found the training more confusing than clarifying.

Since then, much progress has been made on what is the largest business process change initiative in BU’s history. “We are all over this every day,” says Peter Smokowski, vice president for auxiliary services, and a BUworks project executive. “We’ve fixed a very large number of problems and we realize that there’s more ahead of us, but we are on this. It’s people helping people.”

Numbers show that the efforts of the BUworks team and power users across campus are paying off. Help requests have decreased from an initial high of 1,817 tickets in July to 367 in January. People who use the vast new system are clearly adapting, but many still have questions.

So today, at 10 a.m., BU Today will host a live video chat with six BUworks experts, who will answer questions and talk about what lies ahead. Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore (SED’87) will host the conversation.

“It’s safe to say we make progress some days and still have a sense of some frustration,” says Smokowski, who is one of today’s panelists. “That’s the nature of a complex project like this, which takes time and patience.”

Today also marks the launch of the BUworks Community Forum, an online forum where all BUworks users can log in and search for answers. If they don’t find what they need, they can post a question and wait for a colleague’s response. BUworks staff and the Information Services & Technology help desk will scan postings to ensure that questions are correctly answered. Smokowski says the forum was created by the BUworks team in response to user requests for an online environment where they can help each other.

“The forum is intended as a way to help users connect with each other, collaborate, and share knowledge, not as a replacement for the support process, or for submitting a ticket,” says BUworks program sponsor Tracy Schroeder, vice president for information services and technology and one of today’s panelists.

Postings will not go through an approval process, but “if someone writes something that is inappropriate,” Schroeder says, “we will address that and reserve the right to do so.”

Nearly six years has passed since the University began planning BUworks. The first phase went live last summer, moving all budget, payroll, grants, and employee self-service online. The second phase supports reporting on grants, position posting, and improved central procurement services, and should be fully functional in March. The final stage will launch in July and provide improved shopping capabilities and additional central budgeting tools.

The BUworks live chat begins today at 10 a.m. Send questions before or during the event to today@bu.edu.

Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Follow Leslie Friday on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

9 Comments on Today, BUworks Answers Your Questions

  • Old School on 02.28.2012 at 6:48 am

    A community forum should help, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s an attempt to prop up a support system that has continually failed its users.

    • Leonard L. on 02.28.2012 at 10:10 am

      I have the same feeling, but I also acknowledge that they are trying.

  • SOS on 02.28.2012 at 9:56 am

    Project Management 101 – don’t ever implement a major system (let alone two) without doing some sort of parallel testing. And not one senior person in this project knew that? I’m not reassured these are the people to fix the ongoing problems. It’s far from being adequate.

    • Andre on 02.28.2012 at 11:38 am

      SOS, you are 100% correct and the project did 3 rounds of parallel testing for payroll before go-live, and extensive checking of the first weekly and monthly payroll cycles. This is in addition to 3 rounds of Integration Testing and User Acceptance Testing.

  • No one can admit failure on 02.28.2012 at 10:46 am

    SAP is horrible. Should have gone with Peoplesoft. Ask any administrator and you will learn the truth. The rubber will meet the road when its time to balance the books end of June. Not one account I can see shows all the charges. Can’t transfer money between departments. Can’t direct deposit money. Everything is less efficient.

  • User on 02.28.2012 at 11:10 am

    I found this video really helpful — I actually had one of my big questions answered.

  • Morton P. on 02.28.2012 at 11:19 am

    From having used a number of a solutions from Peoplesoft to Oracle to SAP, each one has their pros and cons. Any solution would have its share of growing pains, but good for BU Works for listening to the community to help improve this adjustment period.

    • Ken on 02.29.2012 at 5:17 pm

      Morton P. , thanks for your support! I note that discussions with many other higher ed institutions that use SAP (and PeopleSoft) indicate it takes 2 to 3 years to fully stabilize after an implementation of this size. I also note that we had 26 years to “perfect” the legacy system, and we are only 8 months after implementation. It will only continue to improve.

  • Nancy Santana on 03.01.2012 at 2:36 pm

    We must acknowledge that it takes a community to make something happen. Yes is important to address the flaws, but most important is to acknowledge the hard work and dedication behind the project. Instead on focusing on the negative lets work together to make this work. Lets put on our thinking hats and see what we can come up with to make BUworks successful! GOOD LUCK and keep up the good work!

Post Your Comment

(never shown)