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New financial system continues progress toward July 1 go-live

By Alice Pepin

Soehardi Wangsabesari
University financial system user, Soehardi "Hardi" Wangsabesari.

From Brief, March 26, 2008

Update: Enterprise Financial System (EFS) went live on all University of Minnesota campuses on July 1. Preparing financial employees to properly use the new system was a major focus throughout the project?s implementation. More than 2,800 financial users have undergone training and on July 1, logged into the new financial system. The new program enhances the quality and quantity of information employees can get from financial reports.

"The support and enthusiasm for the new system shown by employees has been impressive," says Michael Volna, controller and EFS project cosponsor, along with Steve Cawley, CIO. "This has been a stressful time for them, taking classes and learning a new system, and we hope their coworkers appreciate what they are going through and will give them encouragement."

After two-and-a-half years of gathering customer input, developing an application software, and taking care of a host of other nitty-gritty details, the Enterprise Financial System [EFS] team members are now testing a new system that will replace the U's CUFS and Financial Forms Nirvana systems. About 2,800 University employees across the state will undergo training this March to master the system, which is scheduled to launch July 1.

"The EFS project will be delivered on time and within the $50 million budget, including contingency," says Michael Volna, University associate vice president and controller." Volna is cosponsoring the project along with Steve Cawley, the University's chief information officer.

CUFS, as it is more commonly known, or the College and University Financial System, was originally installed in 1991 and hasn't been supported by the vendor since 1994. Financial Forms Nirvana, which was created to supplement the shortcomings of CUFS, will also be replaced, along with a number of other systems. And some redundant and supplemental systems will be reduced or eliminated. Data from all these systems will be converted to the new one before launch date.

Thirty training courses, including online courses, will be offered over the next three months. An employee's role with the new system will determine the training he or she gets, but all employees will be required to take an assessment in order to gain access to the related training module.

"While attending training and learning the new system will be a stressful time for employees, immediate payoffs include more accessible, comprehensive, and accurate information," says Volna. "We'll better serve the University by providing a more strategic approach to how we make critical decisions and conduct business, such as purchasing."

Overall the University will benefit from more flexibility in gathering data for increasingly complex and demanding internal and external reporting requirements. An overarching goal for the system is to ensure that each financial business process, and by extension, the financial system as a whole, supports a strong internal control environment.

"The new financial system plays a vital role in helping the University to reach its strategic positioning goals in administrative services. Its flexibility and enhanced capabilities will enable the University to remain accountable, competitive, and compliant," says University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks. "Financial employees will have new and improved tools to do their jobs, and our customers will receive improved service."

All University employees will be affected in some way by the new financial system. At minimum, their account numbers will change because CUFS is going away, and at most, the way employees receive financial services.

Despite the forthcoming changes, many University employees are eagerly awaiting the new system.

"I am genuinely enthusiastic and believe the key to a successful implementation of the financial system lies in the readiness of its users to embrace and execute the change," sayas Soehardi "Hardi" Wangsabesari, an accountant in the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health. "Those who are having a difficult time accepting change and are skeptical about the new system can best prepare themselves by getting educated and reading important project information." To learn more about the new financial system, visit the EFS Web site, which contains comprehensive, detailed information on all aspects of the project, along with links to training.

A Go-Live Kit provides login and access information, as well as job aids.

If you have questions about the Web site, e-mail, and if you have questions about the training courses, e-mail