Following 18 months of vital ground-laying work, the
project, a massive effort to re-engineer all the Johns
Hopkins University's and Health System's financial and
administrative processes, has reached the critical
operating model design stage. The five-month period, which
will involve about 100 dedicated staff and extensive Johns
Hopkins community participation, will determine the
ultimate shape and scope of things to come.
A project begun in January 2003, HopkinsOne will
effectively tie together and streamline selected Johns
Hopkins business functions, including purchasing, accounts
payable, payroll, sponsored projects, finance, materials
management and human resources. The integrated Web-based
system will replace a mish-mash of aging financial and
administrative systems that are considered unnecessarily
unwieldy and not cost-efficient.
Stephen Golding, HopkinsOne's executive project
director, said that the implementation of such an
enterprise resource planning system is "an incredibly
complex endeavor," especially given the size of the Johns
Hopkins enterprise. In fact, HopkinsOne will require an
army of personnel. Currently, the project team includes 70
Johns Hopkins staff and 30 outside consultants who work on
the project full time. At its peak in the coming year, the
project will require nearly 250 full-time staff, in
addition to the hundreds of Johns Hopkins faculty and staff
who will participate in various working groups and training
In November 2003, the project set up headquarters in
dedicated space at the university's Mt. Washington campus.
When the space is fully occupied, HopkinsOne will encompass
roughly 45,000 square feet of space in the campus's Davis
To identify a software vendor for the project,
HopkinsOne conducted an elaborate request-for-proposal
process that involved hundreds of Johns Hopkins employees
who participated in product demonstrations. In April,
Hopkins selected SAP, a world leader in developing software
for enterprise resource planning, or ERP. BearingPoint, a
consulting firm, has been selected to be the ERP system's
integrator, in order to help HopkinsOne bridge business
processes and software functionalities.
Golding said that the immense scale of the project
reflects the pressing need to overhaul the existing
business system infrastructure.
"When it comes to education, research and patient
care, Johns Hopkins is at or near the top in all of those
fundamental missions. However, when it comes to business
processes, we are frankly nowhere near the top," said
Golding, executive director for financial affairs at the
School of Medicine. "Our performance has been severely
hampered by a number of factors, not the least of which is
that as we have grown our primary missions, we have not
grown in terms of the technology or in terms of the human
resources support that we need to sustain the business side
The overarching goal of HopkinsOne is to simplify how
business gets done.
As an example, Golding points to procedures in payroll
processing. He said that while Johns Hopkins has made
strides in recent years to improve efficiency, too much of
the current process relies on shuffling paper between
"Someone has to initiate a form, sign off on it, and
then it gets walked to another office to get re-signed some
more. One form might get walked all over campus," he said.
"It could be weeks, even months, before these payroll forms
get processed. Someone might not get their retroactive pay
for months because we are spending all this time moving
these paper forms around."
Similarly, the process for preparing research grant
proposals relies heavily on manual tasks and paperwork.
Support staff are frequently pulled off other jobs to help
faculty meet deadlines, Golding said, and the manual
process creates the potential for errors.
Lynne Lochte, HopkinsOne program director, said that
accounts payable is another area that needs addressing.
"At Johns Hopkins, bills are paid when they are
submitted by the departments. In some instances,
unfortunately, bills do not get submitted until a person
leaves his or her current position, and an invoice is found
in the bottom of a desk drawer," she said. "This can be
costly. Payment discounts are foregone, and Hopkins also
develops a poor reputation with vendors as a slow pay. We
need a system that is up-to-date and automated so that
invoices can be entered into the system when the goods are
received and then paid in a timely manner."
And then there is the intricate quilt of existing
business systems, which as of April 2004 totaled more than
1,000. Golding said that it's expensive to integrate this
number of disparate systems, which lend themselves to the
unnecessary duplication of data.
"Too much information needs to be re-entered into
separate department, divisional systems, which may or may
not talk to each other," he said. "We have run into
numerous occasions where the information is different on
separate systems because it is extracted from different
The new Web-based system will be fully integrated,
with a consistent look and feel throughout the various
applications. The objective is to make business-related
processes more efficient and, where applicable,
standardized. The project's scope will not include student
information systems or patient and clinical billing,
although the ERP system will interface heavily with these
systems. The only Hopkins institutions not affected by the
planned changes are the Applied Physics Laboratory and
Howard County General Hospital, both of which have already
developed their own integrated administrative systems.
Golding said that HopkinsOne is not just about
installing new software and hardware but will require Johns
Hopkins to adopt a fundamental change in the way it does
"SAP will provide us with a tool that will enable us
to do what we need to do more efficiently and effectively,
but we are going to have to make some pretty significant
business process changes to do it," he said. "You can't
just buy the software, put it in and don't do the other,
which is to train and educate people."
In May, HopkinsOne officials embarked on the operating
model design phase of the project, which will end in
September. To that end, HopkinsOne staff will conduct more
than 60 workshops in the coming months to look at specific
functional areas, such as recruiting, budgets and
"More or less, we'll be meeting with hundreds of users
to determine how we do a process now and how we think we
can do it better," Lochte said.
Following the operating model design phase, a
blueprint phase will take place between October 2004 and
All core components of the new ERP system are
scheduled to go live in July 2006.
The final product? Golding said that it would likely
be a single, configurable portal through which users can
access all business functions.
The system's first users will be the thousands of
Hopkins staff with administrative functions — those
who use human resources, purchasing, finance, supply chain
and sponsored-research systems. Sometime in July 2007, the
broader Johns Hopkins population will be able to access W-2
forms and payroll, benefits enrollment and personal
information through the new system.
Lochte said that the ongoing work of the HopkinsOne
team will be transparent and inclusive, with monthly
progress reported on its Web site,
"Our objective is to keep people informed as we move
forward. We will not be the Wizard behind the curtain
here," Lochte said. "We need to reach out to the user
community to help us and to get involved. This will be
their system, their future. They will decide what it will
The cost of the project through fiscal year 2008 is
$186 million, plus a $14 million contingency. The cost will
be paid one-third by the Johns Hopkins Health System,
one-third by the School of Medicine and one-third by the
remaining divisions of the university.