After two years of research and discussion, Boston University has selected the software to be the digital engine for BUworks, an IT implementation that will simplify and streamline many University business processes, including financials, human resources, and procurement. The enterprise resource planning (ERP) software comes from SAP, one of the world’s largest sellers of business software to universities and research institutions.
“Our existing, home-grown IT solution just wasn’t flexible enough to help us keep pace with the growth of the University,” says Joseph Mercurio, BU executive vice president. “We conducted a rigorous evaluation of software vendors and ultimately selected SAP for the robust functionality of its software, right out of the box.”
Mercurio says SAP won the competition because it would require relatively little customization to meet the University’s needs.
President Robert A. Brown says he is pleased with the choice, which puts the University in good company; SAP software is also used by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and Health System, and Duke University.
The SAP implementation will power BUworks, a complex, multiyear effort to roll many disparate systems into one. Kenneth Weeden, executive director of the project, says it’s important to understand that BUworks is much more than a software implementation project.
“It’s really a business transformation project,” says Weeden. “It has driven an extensive business process analysis across many of the University functions that will be directly affected by the software upgrade. Hundreds of BU employees have been involved in workshops with the BUworks team to help define current processes. Aided by a consulting firm, we have established new, more efficient processes designed along leading practices.”
By consolidating multiple legacy systems onto one single ERP system, he says, BU hopes to ensure maximum transparency across core business functions and provide easy, intuitive, and secure access to information for nearly 8,500 employees. The University will begin implementation of the software in January and will go live with SAP’s financial application by July 2011, followed by the human resources and procurement applications in 2012.
Among the systems to be incorporated in BUworks are Galaxy, Employee Links, Online Turnarounds, and Web Purchase Requisitions. In departments like Human Resources, according to Weeden, BUworks will store all data — job descriptions, performance evaluations, and salary histories, among others — in one easily accessible place.
“It will replace many paper forms with electronic systems,” he says. “So in addition to saving trees, it will make our business processes faster, more accurate, and easier to track.”
Tracy Schroeder, vice president for information systems and technology, says BUworks is a critical step toward the modernization of BU’s enterprise information systems. “It will put us in a position to grow and develop and take advantage of new tools as they become available,” says Schroeder. “It will also allow us to incorporate best practices into our operations.”
Art Jahnke can be reached at email@example.com.