Enterprise Systems and Process Renewal Project

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ERP, and what will it do for Ball State? 
What systems does Ball State plan to replace?
How was the vendor chosen?
How much will the ERP project cost?
When will the new system go live?
Why is this a priority now, particularly in a time of economic uncertainty?
What happens to systems support and development in the meantime?
How will ERP affect employees who currently staff these business processes?
How will student services be affected during and after implementation?
How can I be involved in the ERP process?
Where can I learn more about using the new finance system that launched at the start of the 2011–12 fiscal year?

What is ERP, and what will it do for Ball State?
An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a software system and database for processing all institution-wide transactions. In short, an ERP system will allow us to integrate information related to all the university's core functions, such as course registration, grades, financial aid, finance, and human resources. This will allow us to offer improved experiences for our students, parents, prospective students, faculty and staff, and even alumni and donors—nearly everyone who interacts with Ball State. Just as importantly, an ERP system will facilitate planning and decision-making through improved information flow and the availability of real-time data.
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What systems does Ball State plan to replace?
We are working with our implementation partner, SunGard, to deploy components of its Banner system related to finance, student services, financial aid, human resources and payroll, and advancement over an approximately 30-month period.
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How was the vendor chosen?
The rigorous process that led to the selection of SunGard began in March 2010, with more than 400 faculty and staff providing invaluable input into the features our new system should include, using a collaborative Web-based tool called DecisionDirector. That feedback helped to generate a list of requirements and desires used in developing a request for proposal (RFP) to send to vendors.

Respondents to that RFP were invited to campus to show how their systems work in a “real world” environment relevant to the university through scripted demonstrations. Employees from across campus attended—at general sessions, the AJ 175 lecture hall was near capacity—and they provided a significant amount of feedback on how well the vendors met the requirements Ball State had laid out for them.

After much deliberation, the Executive Committee determined in July 2010 that SunGard’s proposal was best for the university and entered contract negotiations. Those negotiations concluded successfully in late August 2010.
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How much will the ERP project cost?
We cannot yet determine the total cost of the project, but clearly it represents a major investment in the university. Costs will include not only software purchases, but implementation services, training of faculty and staff, software hosting, hardware, and maintenance. Most of these costs will be spread over the duration of the project. Some costs will not be "new" but represent reallocations of funds for existing expenses.
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When will the new system go live?
Implementing an ERP solution is not a small endeavor. This is a project that will touch nearly every aspect of university life, and as such, it is important to proceed in a deliberative, careful manner.

The process is likely to take approximately three years, though some portions of the new system will launch sooner than others. An overview of the preliminary implementation schedule is available on this site, and more detail is available on the ERP SharePoint site, a central repository for documents related to the project.
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Why is this a priority now, particularly in a time of economic uncertainty?
A contemporary ERP system is not optional; it is an investment in the future of this institution. Just as a Hoosier homeowner can't choose to wait for a bonus or raise to replace a furnace that breaks in January, we cannot wait for a more financially convenient time to deploy urgently needed improvements to our critical business infrastructure and processes. Our existing systems no longer serve our current, let alone future, needs. Some are no longer supported by the companies that created them, and others simply cannot meet the needs and expectations of our constituents in the age of real-time data, ubiquitous Internet access, and mobile devices. Our current state is a complex network of applications and processes that fail to provide coherent and accessible services to students, faculty, staff, and others. The lack of integration hampers our ability to make well-informed decisions and to be efficient in all that we do, from teaching to research, providing student services to conducting business. Future challenges, financial or otherwise, will be made less severe by acting now.
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What happens to systems support and development in the meantime?
The primary focus will be on ERP implementation rather than enhancements or modifications to existing systems or acquiring new stand-alone systems. The ERP Executive Management Support Team will evaluate requests based on institutional priorities. Our goal is an institution-wide system that will better meet everyone's needs.
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How will ERP affect employees who currently staff these business processes?
As the ERP project enters its later stages, employees will be asked to learn and adopt the more efficient processes made possible by modernized systems. The university will provide training and resources to ease this transition.
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How will student services be affected during and after implementation?
We plan for there to be no interruption of services, though some processes may change. Students will not experience noticeable changes until new systems have been implemented.
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How can I remain informed of the ERP implementation process?
To receive updates on the status of the project, visit the Communications Center and subscribe to the ERP category. An extensive library of project documents is available on the ERP SharePoint site.
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Where can I learn more about using the new finance system that launched at the start of the 2011–12 fiscal year?
Training sessions were held throughout 2011 summer sessions and continue postlaunch. The training materials are available on the ERP SharePoint site. Beginning July 6, the HelpDesk (5-1517) can help users having difficulty accessing the new systems.
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