McMaster ERP project enters next stage

By Sheldon Smart, October 10, 2012

McMaster has officially entered the fit-gap era.

Starting this week, the University’s project to modernize its business processes and replace its current business systems with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system has entered the fit-gap stage. During this stage teams will develop a detailed plan for implementing the new system.

The transition was initiated late last week when McMaster reached an agreement with Deloitte to serve as the system implementation (SI) consultant for the project. As the SI, Deloitte will help configure and, in limited areas, customize the PeopleSoft ERP software that was selected earlier this year.

“After extensive review, it was clear that Deloitte was the best possible partner for McMaster in this project,” said John Kearney, chief information officer. “Deloitte has extensive experience implementing ERP systems at universities in Ontario and across North America. I’m confident they can repeat that success at McMaster.”

"Deloitte is excited to be embarking on this significant journey in a spirit of partnership with McMaster. We look forward to helping McMaster realize their goals as part of this initiative," said Brian McKenna, consulting partner with Deloitte.

McMaster has already done substantial work to prepare for the fit-gap stage. In August, McMaster staff developed business process maps to document the current state of McMaster’s systems. The University has also begun assembling implementation teams to work alongside the Deloitte consultants on each of the five major modules: student administration, finance, research administration, human resources and business intelligence.

During the fit-gap stage subject matter experts from across campus will work with the implementation teams to comprehensively match the University’s current business processes with the software’s capabilities. Over the course of more than 170 workshops, members of the McMaster community will review various aspects of the new system in detail.  With more than 170 workshops in just four months, one challenge the University will face is “workshop syndrome.” People in workshops won’t be at their desks doing their day-to-day assignments. As a result, staff, faculty and student may notice occasional reduced service levels in fields that are contributing significant numbers of staff to workshops, such as human resources, student registration, finance and accounting, research services, and technology services.

At the completion of the fit-gap stage, the implementation teams will have a detailed understanding of how the PeopleSoft software “fits” the University’s needs and where there are “gaps.” The teams will then propose a detailed plan for implementing the new system, as well as outlining what steps need to be taken to resolve gaps.

Beginning in 2013, the teams will begin the multi-year process of implementing the new ERP system and replacing the current patchwork of distinct business systems. This project will enhance student service; provide better support to researchers; give staff better tools to do their jobs, especially financial administration; and deliver dramatically better business intelligence to guide University planning.