In an age before voice mail, instant messaging,
e-mails and blogs, there was the town hall meeting —
a forum where communities could gather to discuss issues
face to face. Johns Hopkins employed that time-honored
format at two March 8 meetings regarding
an initiative to streamline and integrate most of the
institutions' administrative and financial systems.
Edward Miller, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of
Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Ron Peterson, president of the
Johns Hopkins Health System, hosted a noon meeting on the
East Baltimore campus. In the afternoon, William R. Brody,
president of The Johns Hopkins University, and James
McGill, university senior vice president for finance and
administration, hosted a meeting on the Homewood campus.
Miller stressed the need for Johns Hopkins to
institute "21st-century business practices and eliminate
duplicative processes that waste talent by having faculty
and staff from the hospital and School of Medicine all
working to process the same piece of paper."
Joining Miller, Steve Golding, executive director of
HopkinsOne, explained that a project of this immensity
represents more than new technology. "It's an initiative to
look at business processes and procedures and determine how
to create a more efficient work force," he said.
"Johns Hopkins' education, research and patient care
are second to none," Golding said, "but we push a lot of
paper around, and we don't do it well." Golding detailed
how the institutions' administrative and financial systems
have "multiple, uncoordinated points of entry," meaning the
same transaction could be re-entered three or four times.
"We have multiple systems to handle the same data," he
said, "and that can cause delays in essential functions,
such as purchasing, hiring or setting up grants."
Golding also outlined several decisions that will
affect the Johns Hopkins community, including having a
single chart of accounts, common pay cycles, a common
sponsored project compliance process and a single approach
to expense reimbursement.
At Homewood, McGill noted that "much of the $186
million cost for HopkinsOne, which will be spread out over
10 years, would have to be spent anyway to upgrade and
maintain legacy systems that no longer meet our needs. Only
13 percent of the cost is for hardware and software," he
said. "A large portion of the cost is devoted to training
and imparting skills, so we're really investing in our own
When a faculty member questioned the feasibility of
the new system, McGill pointed out that other research
universities such as Duke and MIT are currently using the
same SAP software being installed by HopkinsOne. "It was
not a problem-free process," McGill said of those
institutions' introduction of the system, "but we've been
able to learn from the mistakes of others, and we're
determined to do this right."
Currently, Brody said, a lack of timely and accurate
data costs Johns Hopkins money because "problems have to be
fixed at the back end," and a failure to fix problems could
have serious legal repercussions. "We have to do this,"
Brody told faculty and staff, "so help us figure out the
best way and help us to address issues early on."
NOTE: The town hall meeting originally scheduled for
March 15 in Sommer Auditorium at the Bloomberg School of
Public Health will be rescheduled soon.