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Tuesday, June 1, 2004
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Oracle system continues to grow after first year

By Bethany Miller

The technology involved in the way Ohio University functions continues to advance and to grow as the systems used to manage the massive amount of numbers and information entering and exiting the University change with the times.

Just more than a year old, the Oracle Financial Management System (FMS), which replaced the old College and University Financial System (CUFS), has already made work easier for many faculty and staff. The Enterprise Project was developed to replace the old individual systems with new, integrated modules that allow employees to enter data once and to share information throughout the University. Following the implementation of the Oracle Human Resources and Payroll modules in July 2001, FMS was launched in April 2003.

Now with more than 1000 users, the system is in its third stage, which entails making enhancements based on user feedback. Joyice Childs, manager of training and communication for the Enterprise Project and the finance division, says the implementation of FMS was a great success, but issues concerning development still continue to arise.

"If you build a house, no matter how well designed, when you move in, you'll see things that need changed and finished," Childs says, "and this financial system is like that."

Vice President for Administration and Finance Gary North says even though FMS is still in the process of being implemented because of these enhancements, the system is already "more recent, user friendly and a lot more powerful" than the old system.

"Oracle is easier to use and reports are more understandable," North says. "We will be able to grow with it and realize its robustness."

Bob Marinellie, budget officer for the College of Health and Human Services and user of the system, agrees the change from the "archaic" CUFS to FMS is a positive one.

"Overall, Oracle has shown that the University is being progressive toward the use of technology and in delivering technology to users," Marinellie says. "(Oracle) is easy for anyone to use. More people have access to information than they ever did in the past."

But the new system has not gone without criticism. Some faculty and staff have taken issue with the new accounting system; however, Associate Vice President of Regional Higher Education Steve Flaherty, an FMS user, says the system is very complicated and is confusing only to those who do not obtain adequate training. Through training and with time, more employees will become comfortable with the new system.

Assistant Vice President for Finance Shelley Ruff agrees. "The ones who are most critical are the ones furthest away from the system," she says.

Training for the system is a continuous process. With the constantly growing system, new functionality is always being added. Concerning the future of the system, Ruff has an extensive and ever-growing task list for next year. She says the system is more than worth all the effort and the greatest benefits are yet to be realized.

Information through technology is "our life's blood at finance," Ruff says. "Oracle is a solid infrastructure that will allow us to strengthen our information delivery to our customers. It is our backbone for future advancements."

For more information about the Oracle Financial Management System or future projects or to sign up for training, visit www.finance.ohiou.edu/ebs/.

Bethany Miller is a student writer for University Communications and Marketing.

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