WSU inks contract for new database system

9:41:03 AM CDT - Thursday, April 08, 2004

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

With the signing of a contract last week with SunGard SCT Inc., WSU is starting a three-year, multimillion-dollar effort to install a single, coordinated database systemto handle all university functions and business.

WSU is joining the ranks of such businesses as Boeing and Raytheon by implementing an enterprise resource planning, or ERP, system. At WSU, the new system has been dubbed WSU Information Network, or WIN.

WIN will integrate all the university's functions, such as human resources, payroll, accounting and financial processes, student records, financial aid and affiliated corporations into a single database.
Up until now, different databases have been used in those various functions. By combining the now-separate systems, the university will streamline the way it functions, making it easier for students, faculty and staff.

"Today we enter so many pieces of information two or three times," says WIN project manager David Alexander. With the new system, information will be entered only once, which will help reduce errors, as well.

Under the current system, for example, financial data and student data is kept on separate systems. When a student enrolls in a class, the information on how much they should be charged isn't immediately shared with the student accounts receivable system, Alexander notes.

WIN will be Web-based, allowing anyone to conduct university business from any Internet connection. By the time the system is fully implemented in 2007, users will be able to handle all university business over the Web.

In addition to enrolling and registering online as they already can, students will be able to pay for classes online. Employees will have access to more detailed and accurate information, as well, making for a better work flow, according to Alexander.

Since 2000, WSU officials have been studying how to use technology to increase access to WSU and efficiency in its operations. While officials decided to use an ERP program, implementation was put off until now because of budget considerations.

The $11.8 million project will be funded by a $5 per credit hour allocation from tuition fees and some shifting of other university funds.

A project team, comprising Alexander, Lois Tatro from administration and finance, Kevin Crabtree from financial aid, and Gary Ott from university computing and telecommunications, will coordinate the WIN implementation. With the help of SunGard SCT, the team will work with university departments develop a project plan and timeline in the next two months.

WIN will be phased in using five major modules, starting in June, and will be fully functional in 2007. The modules are financial/accounting, human resources/payroll, student records, financial aid, and advancement.

All the existing data will have to be converted into the new system and extensive testing will be done to verify data accuracy. Extensive training is planned to help employees use WIN.

The complex computer system will use Sun Microsystems servers, IBM storage equipment and Oracle databases. WSU will purchase an Oracle campus license so faculty and staff can develop other applications using Oracle without additional software costs, Alexander notes.

SCT, the company that developed the system being installed, was purchased in January by SunGard, which is led by WSU alumnus James Mann who was the keynote speaker for WSU's Business Week in March

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