As part of a upgrade to its accounting system, The University of Alabama purchased Banner SCT software to address the University's student, financial aid, finance, and HR requirements. As implementation of the new software began, it became evident that there were interface challenges with the existing facilities management software, FacilityFocus ® , in use by the Facilities Department since 2000. As a result, The University of Alabama engaged Draper & Associates to conduct a diagnostic Review of Business Processes that interfaced the Financial Affairs Division with the Facilities Department.
The Draper Approach
Draper & Associates performed a review, evaluated, and made recommendations on the following:
- General assessment of current manual and automated processes relative to FacilityFocus and Banner systems with a focus on identifying opportunities to increase efficiencies through process improvement, data capture and reliability, reporting, system usability and system integration.
- Specific focus on reporting requirements internal and external to the Facilities Department and capability of existing systems to support those requirements.
- Use of scanning and bar coding for Banner/FacilityFocus tracking of fixed assets function.
- Opportunities to streamline accounting functions within FacilityFocus, specifically looking to data entry redundancy within the Purchasing module and providing financial roll-up of purchases at the project level.
- Practices to standardize and create a more customer-centric billing front-end (including labor, P-card charges, purchased materials, central stores counter releases).
- Explore technologies to assist Facilities in real-time updates of inventory and spatial information (i.e. as-builts, space classification and assignment, etc.) with goal of improving communications and data accessibility with field personnel.
- Review of FCA function with current ISES database. Provide short-term and long-term strategy for data updates for current capital and maintenance projects, reporting and eventual migration to Maximus' FCA module set to be released in Spring 2006. Also look at communication procedures for updating interested parties as information is added and/or updated.
The work performed during this Diagnostic Review and Evaluation focused on current practices, identified alternatives, and provided options and recommendations to realize greater efficiencies and economies while achieving the goals and objectives of the Financial Affairs Division and the Facilities Department.
This diagnostic Review entailed a combination of fact-finding and analysis directed at the objectives delineated above. The fact-finding activities involved included review of pertinent documents/data as well as interviews of appropriate campus executive(s) responsible for facilities management, staff presently assigned to facilities management, appropriate staff within the Facilities and Financial Affairs Departments, as well as with customer/constituent and staff from other areas of the University.
This combination of fact-finding and analytical activities, along with Draper & Associates' prior experience in conducting similar evaluations of business processes and other programmatic areas within the higher education environment, was used to:
- Conduct a comprehensive and integrated diagnostic assessment of the present business processes/practices at the University of Alabama 's Facilities Department - as it relates to the FacilityFocus, Banner and other pertinent software programs.
- Analyze requirements, resources, policies, and practices in the information services/management functional area.
- Evaluate the use of existing and/or new technologies to assist the Facilities Department in gaining strategic and operational efficiencies in support of key business goals and objectives.
- Analyze the appropriateness of specific activities performed by the proponent staff, as well as their centrality to the mission of the University.
- Assess the accuracy and usefulness of data being currently captured within existing systems.
- Develop an attainable and measurable set of specific recommendations for process improvement within the Financial Affairs Division and the Facilities Department.
From these activities emerged a listing of fifty (50) specific recommendations supported by the data collection and analysis conducted. The recommendations were organized into three timeframe categories: Short-Term (less than 30 days), Medium Term (31 - 90 days), and Long Term (greater than 90 days). Each recommendation was further categorized into one of the five broad focus areas: Strategic, Organizational Structure, Process, Financial, and Systems. Finally, each recommendation was designated as either a Process/Procedure or Technology type recommendation and included the functional area responsible for each.