Posted December 5, 2007

Enterprise project will replace, integrate Temple’s major business functions


The systems we rely on to pay bills, check class schedules, keep track of employee data and store student academic and financial information at Temple are old — some, older than the students using and being served by them.

For example, ISIS, the Integrated Student Information System, is 25 years old. The FMS Financial Management System is 20. HRS, the Human Resources System, is 15.

These critical business operations run on IBM mainframe hardware and use Cobol, an outdated programming language. Numerous systems had to be purchased or built over the past decade in order to allow our students and administrators to do their work online. Various systems don’t talk to each other very well, forcing Computer Services to custom-build interfaces so different products can communicate.

“Truth of the matter is, we’re running old systems on top of obsolete systems,” said Tim O’Rourke, vice president of Computer and Information Services.

The solution: complete overhaul. Over the past five years, Temple has evaluated, planned and, this past week, purchased replacements for almost every major system on campus, from FMS to OWLnet to the Cherry & White directory. Over the next five years, the new systems will be rolled out, bringing everything together into an up-to-date, centralized ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. This initiative, named Enterprise, is a $38 million undertaking that will affect almost every business process across the university.

“When President Hart came on board, she asked us for a five-year strategic technology plan,” O’Rourke said. “It was clear right away that replacing our administrative systems should be our first priority.”

The new integrated system will have three core components: student, finance and human resources. Up first will be a new TUportal and an online purchasing application, projected for late 2008. A new financial, then human resources, system will be followed by admissions, registration and financial aid.

“We will completely replace a new piece of Temple’s systems every six months or so,” O’Rourke said.

Though Computer Services will be leading a lot of the work associated with the improvements, the initiative is universitywide, primarily led by functional user departments. Since the project will affect everyone at Temple in some way, an executive committee of 18 members representing a range of key Temple academic and administrative departments is directing the project.

One of the committee’s early tasks was to select a company to provide the applications that will replace Temple’s old systems. Choosing the right vendor to entrust with a project of this scope and impact was a 12-month process for the committee and Gartner Inc., the firm hired to ensure Temple would get the best product available. After careful research, consideration of the features and site visits to see other universities’ systems, the executive committee chose a company called SunGard Higher Education, whose Banner product is used by more than 1,100 schools, colleges and universities across the country.

Last week, Temple finalized its contract with SunGard, which will provide a tightly integrated suite of applications on a single Oracle database, and students, faculty and staff will use the applications through web-based interfaces via the new TUportal.

Now that the contract is in place, work on the applications can begin. Over the next five years, a lot of work will bring efficiencies, convenience, data security and a great deal of change to Temple’s business processes.

“It was never a matter of if we should replace our outdated systems with an integrated product,” O’Rourke said. “The question was always when. This project is long overdue.”

Enterprise executive committee members

Clay Armbrister (chair), Office of the Executive Vice President

Frank Annunziato, Office of the Controller

James Bausman Jr, Office of Internal Audits

Lisa Staiano-Coico, Office of the Provost

Barbara Dolhansky, Computer Services

Stephanie Gillin, Office of the Provost

Deborah Harnett, Human Resources

Peter Jones, Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies

Susan Karakantas, Financial Affairs

Larry Lemanski, Research and Strategic Initiatives

Vicki Lewis McGarvey, Office of the President

Timothy O’Rourke, Computer Services

Theresa Powell, Student Affairs

Timm Reinhart, Enrollment Management

Robert Reinstein, School of Law

Stuart Sullivan, Institutional Advancement

Karen Turner, School of Communications and Theater

Anthony Wagner, Financial Affairs