‘Community source’ project helps colleges tackle enterprise systems

Although implementing a community-source ERP would require a significant amount of “people time,” it would allow them to bypass a costly licensing fee, the school’s IT team figured.

“We can make a seven-figure decision, or we can do a tens of millions of dollars decision,” said Voss. “So that was pretty easy.”

But UMD did not join Kuali solely for economic reasons, Voss noted: The chance to transition from its legacy systems to modern financial and administrative systems built specifically for higher education also had appeal.

KFS now helps UMD officials better manage their financial transactions, purchasing and accounts payable, general ledger, and capital asset management, while increasing transparency for faculty.

“We’ve been involved in Kuali for four to five years and saw that KFS was a viable solution that was being implemented at major universities around the country,” said John Farley, assistant vice president for UMD’s Division of Administration and Finance. “For that last four years, we’ve had controllers involved in writing the code. If you’re an investor campus in one of these systems, you have a seat at the table, and we have a lot of input into what Kuali is today—and we’re very proud of that.”

UMD anticipates that the Kuali Financial System will be fully implemented by late summer or early fall. Voss and Farley said the university initially held off on joining the first pilots of KFS, to avoid the early glitches often associated with new technology initiatives.

“We feel very confident about where KFS is today,” said Farley. “Every college needs these systems—they all have these same processes that they need to manage. An individual institution can either pay for this or have a less costly solution that allows them to spend their money on other things.”

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