THE CLIENT CHALLENGE
The University of Minnesota (UMN) is a major, top-tier, public research university located in Minnesota, with a main campus in Minneapolis-St. Paul serving 50,000 students, as well as four more campuses across the state. It is known for its innovative curriculum, research opportunities and engagement within the community.
All of the university’s Finance, Human Resources, and Campus (i.e., classes and grading) business functions have run for years on the PeopleSoft platform. To remain compliant with federal requirements and enhance functionality, accessibility and security, however, university leaders recognized the need for significant and ambitious changes. All university systems would be upgraded from Oracle PeopleSoft 8.9 to 9.0/9.2. Reporting functions would need to integrate more than 700 external systems. And, a new enterprise portal would be launched. A systems integrator was identified and work began.
BEFORE NORTH HIGHLAND:
- SIGNIFICANTLY BEHIND SCHEDULE
- SIGNIFICANTLY OVERBUDGET
- INAPPROPRIATELY STAFFED
- POORLY INFORMED BY INACCURATE REPORTS
- AT ODDS WITH SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR
Eleven months later, UMN was struggling; the program was significantly behind schedule and on track to be deeply over-budget. If the project continued on this track, organizational productivity and expenses would suffer dramatically. More significantly, if the university could not support the new version of PeopleSoft, it would not be able to effectively interface with federal agencies. The damage would likely have been considered newsworthy enough to create significant negative publicity. A UMN executive committee including the Vice Presidents of Technology, Finance, Human Resources, the Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Vice Provost – all supported by the University President – realized that they needed a new approach and reached out to North Highland for leadership and support in “righting the ship.”
North Highland quickly assembled a team that would work directly with UMN’s senior leadership, including the Board of Regents and the President, to provide program leadership, establish sound program management and help UMN deliver the $83.5 million PeopleSoft upgrade and deployment.
The team restructured processes, re-established a budget management approach, assessed and modified staffing, renegotiated vendor contracts, and established project governance best practices. Structured metrics were applied to assess progress, remove waste, and establish a consistent reporting approach. The team also took over management of more than 300 staff members and contractors involved in the project implementation.
Specific deliverables included:
- A new project plan, including a full system risk assessment with implemented issues log, which better matched university needs with in-house and contract talent to meet scheduling and budgetary goals
- Elimination of 10,000+ person-hours of non-value added meetings
- An executive, real-time dashboard to accurately track estimates against goals, open application critical defects, work progress and completion.
On April 20th, 2015, the university deployed the system to more than 100,000 University users. The new system impacted every faculty member, staff member and student – yet the actual transition to the new system was unusually rapid, seamless and uncomplicated; the university’s 700 external systems re-connected to the new system without issue – a major feat. University President Eric Kaler recognized North Highland's Executive Program Director for transition guidance, which he called, "unprecedented in scope, collaboration and success."
Since the implementation, the university has moved from paper to electronic payroll management for more than 37,000 faculty and staff. Thousands of transcripts have been processed. The Financial Accounting department’s records are current, accurate and easily reported. And the North Highland team continues to receive praise for its leadership and contributions to making this program a success.