Reporter 418, 6 April 1998


The management information revolution starts here

The University has embarked on a major programme to replace and enhance its main management information systems. In part this was triggered by the need to address Year 2000 issues but, more importantly, it was a recognition that we needed to support central and local administrative functions in a more advanced way to avoid duplication of effort and provide more flexible and sophisticated information to support teaching, research and management.

First off the starting blocks are the finance system and the human resources and payroll system, both contracted with a company called SAP. A new student records system is currently being tendered. The teams are in place, working really hard to meet very tight deadlines.

The new systems will be introduced in a phased programme so don't expect everything to be completed from Day 1. We take a view that the investment is for the medium term, and that it will enable us to think carefully about how we do things, what the right balance is between central and local functions, issues of data ownership and so on. So there will be a transition period and we will want to work across the University on best implementation, and how to link with and/or gradually replace existing local systems to best effect.

Most Departments, Services and Schools have nominated contact(s) to be involved in the projects and to be focal points for communication through briefings, demonstrations and so on. Can I urge those areas which have not yet identified a contact to do so as soon as possible, so that engagement with the programme can be from its earliest stages.

Lynne Brindley University Librarian and Dean of Information Strategy

Our man in the MAIS

A computer expert from the private sector has been recruited as Programme Director for the University’s MAIS (Management and Administration Information Systems) project.

Peter Bollands, 40, has a background in computer applications development and implementation spanning almost two decades. For the last six-and-a-half years he worked for the Burton Group in Leeds, where he managed a multi-million pound project to put PC technology and communications links into the company’s 1,500 stores.

Born in Guisborough, North Yorkshire, Peter Bollands studied Maths at Oriel College, Oxford University.

The team

The MAIS project is being overseen by a steering group chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for IT, Professor Chris Taylor.

Finance aspects are being co-ordinated by John Lillywhite (Head of Finance Control), with colleagues Tim Brannon responsible for purchasing; Kevin Gleeson for sales (anything requiring an external invoice); Richard Reeves for financial accounting and John Willis for management accounting (financial analysis and reporting). Judith Hardy is co-ordinating for human resources.

The MAIS office is on level 11 of the E C Stoner Building, Room 11.75. The office administrator is Beverley Marczycha on ext 6010; she will be happy to answer queries or refer you to the appropriate person.

You can also email mais@leeds.ac.uk and its website is at: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/mais

All you ever wanted to know ...

“This is really impressive – how soon can we have it up and running?”

One of the comments made by a departmental representative at the recent seminars on the new Management and Information Systems (MAIS) indicates how well the project is being received.

Significant progress has been made over the last few weeks as the four-year project gets under way. The MAIS office is operational and its team in place (see box for contacts); seminars for departmental contacts have been held – and pilot departments have been selected to test the new systems. A website has been launched (http://www.leeds.ac.uk/mais) to keep the campus fully briefed.

Mechanical Engineering, the School of Social Sciences and Law, Biochemistry and Transport Studies are among those who will be starting to use the new purchasing system over the next few months.

Plans to replace the current finance, personnel/ payroll and students systems were outlined in Reporter 413. Following our report, and at recent briefings, departments have been asking for more information. Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions.

Q Who will use the system?
A Eventually, it will be University-wide, although initially access will be available under appropriate security restrictions to a limited number of users in each department.

Q What is the minimum machine spec for running SAP and will the networks allow access?
A The minimum spec is for a PC 486/8MB with windows 3.1. The capacity, however, depends on usage and the higher the spec of machine the better. We are about to survey machines available to prospective users to assess their needs and to consider other aspects such as networking.

Q Will departments be inputting data to the system?
A Yes - the aim is to enter data only once in the organisation at the point where this is best done. Inputting will be phased in over the first year of operation and will be based on the success of pilot projects. Certain departments, service departments and central administration units are to test different aspects of the system before it is rolled out across campus.

Q How will departments be involved in the implementation process?
A A representative group from departments and services will continue to be involved in workshops and consultation sessions. Comprehensive testing of the system will be carried out by prospective users and those involved will be given details as soon as they become available.

Q Will training be provided?
A Yes – this is a key element to the success of the project.

Q When will people be able to see the system working?
A The first prototype of the system for finance will be completed in mid April and the human resources design by the end of April. We hope to demonstrate prototypes in late April/early May.

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