University to update administrative systems

| Editor-in-Chief

Washington University will begin a multi-year effort to improve its aging human resources, finance and student information systems this summer.

In the first phase of the project, the University will focus on human resources (HR) and finance, combining two separate systems into an integrated, cloud-based one, called MyDay, which administrators say will create more consistency across programs.

“[Current] systems don’t operate together,” Hank Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration and lead sponsor for MyDay, said. “The trend is toward the integrated, cloud-based systems.”

The systems now in place have been developed internally by Washington University over the past 40 years, with each system built piece by piece.

“[These systems] were never built for the scale of size of institution that we now are,” Webber said. “They are built on systems no longer commonly used or being phased out…There’s an age problem; there’s a technical obsoleteness problem.”

Although updates have occurred over the years, the last major change came around 15 years ago. The transition to MyDay will cost around $68 million, according to Chancellor Mark Wrighton, and the decision to switch was based on a suggestion from an advisory committee convened by John Gohsman, vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer.

While Washington University’s current systems are unique to the University, peer institutions employ MyDay systems, including Yale University, University of Rochester and the University of Southern California.

“What we are doing is completely consistent with the trend at our peers for this—major universities with medical schools,” Webber said. “Our basic view is that our needs here—while they differ a bit—are quite common to Yale University, for example.”

The initial phase of the program will primarily impact University employees. Major changes to student information systems will occur in 2022, according to Webber, although students employed by the University may feel some effects earlier from the changes in HR and finance.

According to Wrighton, the University will work out more details of the student information component after the initial systems have been put into place. The University also will update alumni and development systems somewhere down the line.

“In a couple of years, we will kind of know where we are. Frustrations will have been realized, and we’ll know if we’re doing the project on the budget that we set with the outcomes that we want,” Wrighton said. “We have a good plan; we’re going to get our money’s worth. Access to the information we need when we want it is going to be the outcome.”