University ready to ‘go live’

The media got a sneak peek of the university’s new online and automated system that will create a virtually “paperless environment” and a new way of doing business on campus.

Forty-five FAMU faculty and staff gave a tour of the Enterprise Resource Planning systems facility and their work, which has been underway for nearly a year, Wednesday. The ERP will integrate the business transactions of all FAMU departments into a single computer system that will serve all departments’ needs. Currently, FAMU operates off a system that generates vast amounts of paper documents.

Beverly Barrington, FAMU’s ERP project coordinator, said the first phase of ERP will “go live” in February 2004 with students being able to apply for financial aid online.

The first phase will provide students self-service for many requests that require a paper form or face-to-face transaction. It will result in less paper, lines and phone calls, Barrington said.

The possibility of job reduction has become an issue for some FAMU employees. Clydie Hubbard, a member of ERP human resources team, said although layoffs are not foreseen, many employees would experience a change in how their jobs are done.

“I don’t think that people will be in jeopardy of losing jobs, but people will have to learn new job skills,” she said.

Each state university has had to learn new skills after becoming individual business entities.

With the disbandment of the State University System in 2001, all Florida universities became public corporations rather than state agencies. Now, each university is responsible for its own business and process system.

Along with Florida State University and the University of Florida, FAMU formed a co-op to share the expense of operating the ERP system. The system will operate off PeopleSoft software, an online business management software, used by national companies such as Ford Motor Company and Hewlett-Packard.

Norman Johnson, a SBI professor and chairman of the ERP Change Management Committee, said after four months of intensive ERP staff training, the next challenge would be bringing the training back to FAMU.

“It’s like marching out to take a bridge,” he said. “Now we are marching back home with ERP.”

He added because the training took place with existing FAMU staffers, the transition would be much quicker. After the ERP system is online, some of the staff will return to campus and the rest will stay on with ERP. Part of the training for students, faculty and department heads will include learning new ERP-specific terminology.

Under the new system, students will have to learn to refer to student accounts as student financials and faculty members will have to refer to FAMU account numbers as project ID’s.

The FAMU ERP team has constructed a website,, to keep faculty and students abreast of new terminology, changes, updates and critical dates.

In a recent ERP newsletter, the final “go live” date is Jan. 1, 2006. At that time the new system will be fully operational.