July 1, 2013: that’s the date targeted for making the switch to the Finance portion of the ConnectCarolina project. The date was announced at a standing room-only crowd at a ConnectCarolina Finance Town Hall meeting on February 29. The University is replacing many existing financial systems with PeopleSoft as was done in 2010 for student services systems with PeopleSoft’s Campus Solutions.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance Kevin Seitz noted that 488 days remained from Feb. 29 until the targeted go-live date (including weekends and the extra day for Leap Year). While the Town Hall served as the campus kick-off, the project team comprised of ITS personnel and Finance staff has already been working for many months to prepare for the implementation.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney kicked off the Town Hall by explaining that an extensive analysis of how PeopleSoft will meet UNC’s financial system needs (known as fit/gap) was completed on February 1. The project’s Sponsors –Provost Carney, Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone, Vice Chancellor Karol Gray and Vice Chancellor Larry Conrad – then announced several important decisions:
- Finance will go live first, then HR and Payroll a short time later.
- For Finance, the targeted go-live date is July 1, 2013.
- The HR/Payroll go-live date will be determined after its fit/gap analysis is complete this spring.
Sponsors have directed the project to implement PeopleSoft out of the box, or “vanilla.” This means relying on the functionality built into PeopleSoft and changing business processes when necessary rather than modifying the system.
Vice Chancellor Conrad noted that the impetus back in 2004 for the ConnectCarolina project was the age and fragility of the former student systems. The same vulnerability is true for the University’s financial systems and this presents significant financial, regulatory and compliance risks.
Replacing these aging systems with PeopleSoft will bring about fundamental changes to the Finance Division’s business processes, said Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Karol Gray, but she emphasized that decisions have not and will not be made in a silo and the Finance Division is committed to involving users and sharing frequent updates.
That theme was echoed by Seitz, who urged users to get involved with the project. One key way is to connect with department representatives to Campus Working Groups. These groups are comprised of more than 100 campus representatives who are actively engaged in the Finance project, helping to ensure that the PeopleSoft Finance system meets the University’s needs. Campus Working Group members also serve as “ambassadors,” conveying information about the project to their schools and units.
Don Hepp, Senior Director of Finance and Human Resources Applications, who heads up the project noted that there is a great deal of work to complete in those 488 days before the targeted go-live date. This includes configuration – setting up PeopleSoft for the University’s use – as well as data conversion, testing and training.
The Finance Town Hall concluded with a presentation on the new chartfields, which explained the fundamental difference between how FRS handles accounting compared to PeopleSoft. The project team is working with schools and units across campus to help them best take advantage of the flexibility provided by the new chartfield string.