SkyVU: Ready for Landing?
Last night I witnessed firsthand the commitment and partnership of school and college business officers with countless university leaders in IT, finance and administration. They were updating each other on the status of planning for SkyVU, the initiative to transition the university to a new “ERP” (enterprise resource plan). Since February 2016, tremendous efforts have been put forth to bring the new Oracle Cloud business software system on line for all of our financial and HR transactions. On January 3, 2018, we officially make the move. With this date rapidly approaching and many system transitions beginning at the end of November, I want to highlight some of the changes that will directly impact faculty and staff in Academic Affairs.
First, though, it is important to reflect on WHY this important change is occurring. Today Vanderbilt’s financial, administrative and research management infrastructure is fragmented across many systems that have been modified over and over again across the past decades. While the systems have served us well, they have significant limitations and simply must be replaced. The separation from VU Medical Center also required both institutions to have separate financial software systems. The Oracle Cloud solution was carefully assessed and is one that will meet our needs as a premier academic institution.
This change will surely introduce a few short-term bumps and some initial uncertainty; but, I am certain it will bring substantial dividends to the university in the long term. I am sure you have heard such claims before. The reality is that much of the software we are currently operating with was first implemented in the 1980s! We must align our systems with our needs. Although the initial transition will require extra efforts to learn Oracle Cloud, within a few short months, the overall administrative burden for faculty and staff will be lessened and transformed. Collaboration across units will be easier and business processes more efficient, providing all of us with more time to make important contributions that advance discovery and learning at Vanderbilt.
Below I summarize a few key points to keep in mind. I also encourage you to visit the SkyVU website for complete details regarding all aspects of the transition:
- The Oracle Cloud is a one-stop shop and will be accessed via Vanderbilt’s homepage by logging in with your VUnet ID. Available modules will vary based on the systems and privileges that each individual is granted.
- C2HR will be phased out December 1. Beginning January 3, faculty and staff will access their personal information in Oracle Cloud. Faculty and staff will be able to view their pay and, if applicable, their PTO balances in Oracle Cloud (historical pay prior to 2018 will remain in C2HR). Access the Personal Info Quick Guide for more details.
- Travel and Expense Reports – Concur Travel and World Travel will continue to be used for booking travel. Expenses, however, will be managed through Oracle Expense, which will provide seamless integration with our finance and HR systems. The Oracle Expense product has fewer steps, fewer expense types and a more user-friendly interface (all while still being able to split expenses across funding sources). Although Concur Expense will be phased out in December, booking through Concur Travel will continue to ensure that the university is able to provide assistance in the event of a crisis overseas or domestically, and also ensures compliance with export control. See the SkyVU Quick Reference Guide for more information on Oracle Cloud Expense.
- Center Numbers – Today we use center numbers to account for our financial transactions in the general ledger. Beginning in January, center numbers will be rolled into either a chart of accounts string (e.g., operational funds) or a project (e.g., grants and faculty funds). Click here for more.
- More on Projects – Projects will be used to manage externally sponsored grants, internally designated faculty funds, gifts and endowment distributions, CORES and capital projects. The two types that will be used most frequently by faculty will be the grant projects and the faculty fund projects.
- Grants – Will be assigned an award number and can have multiple associated projects to enable tracking the sponsored grants and contracts.
- Faculty Funds – Will be assigned a project number to track internally designated funds such as faculty start-up funds, general research funds, TIPs, Research Scholar funds, etc.
- Faculty will be able to access their projects in the system and see summary financial information and basic demographics about each of their grant projects and faculty fund projects. Local departmental, school or college administrators who support the faculty will be able to pull detailed transaction and financial data from the system for reports, and will also provide consultation on how to interpret the reports to ensure faculty have good information on their budget and committed and actual cost amounts at any point in time.
- Effort Reporting – Beginning in March 2018, Vanderbilt will begin using the new ecrt® tool to certify grant-reporting effort. All faculty members working on federal grants will certify all of their own effort on a quarterly basis. In addition, principal investigators will certify all non-faculty effort for individuals paid off their federal grants on a quarterly basis. This will simplify the effort reporting process and result in less administrative time devoted to the effort process. Faculty will continue to certify their effort on federal grants in ePAC through December 31, 2017.
I understand that the learning new systems will require effort and for that I thank you for your partnership. I also ask that you support each other in this process. Please be patient with your colleagues AND let the SkyVU team know what challenges you are facing. If appropriate, please also make time for trainings and tutorials and share what you learn with others. The extra effort on the front end will help us all transition and make for a “smooth landing.” Click here for a list of key dates during the SkyVU transition.
Be assured, as with any major change, we are committed to making refinements as we go. Again, I encourage you to spend time on the SkyVU website to learn more and share feedback with the SkyVU team.
Together we can make this change a success and ensure Vanderbilt is positioned for continued excellence!
Susan R. Wente