Craig Hofferbert has worked on some pretty big
software projects, including one at T. Rowe Price to
combine customer statements on various investments and
another for The Baltimore Sun to handle all of its
circulation. "We built that one from scratch," he said.
But Hofferbert said nothing he's worked on can compare
HopkinsOne, the multiyear effort to modernize and
upgrade Johns Hopkins' business systems, including such
areas as finance, human resources, payroll, purchasing and
"I tell my staff, If we were only implementing a
payroll system for the university and health system, that
would be a huge project," said Hofferbert, the IT
development project manager. "This is massive."
Last week, the work of Hofferbert's team of
programmers and that of dozens of experts in various areas
such as finance and payroll began undergoing serious
evaluation as HopkinsOne staff kicked off the first phase
of so-called integration testing.
The experts — called functional experts within
HopkinsOne — have designed and configured individual
"modules" for their particular areas. They've tested those
alone, but now the question is how well they work together
in the integrated system.
In the testing room in Mt. Washington, more than 60
people crowded in for the kickoff, as Sam's Club-sized
boxes of candies and snacks stood by for emergency fuel.
"As I look out across the room, I see a lot of people
who have been with the project for three years, as I have
been," said Jayne Spence, the testing project manager.
"Reaching today is quite a milestone."
Cele DiGiacomo, HopkinsOne project director for
information technology, agreed. "I think it's a pretty big
deal," she said. "If you look at the project from its
inception, it's taken us three or four years to get to this
point. It is a significant milestone — a lot of
blood, sweat and tears."
The HopkinsOne project is using software developed by
SAP, a German firm that is one of the world's leading
business systems software companies, with more than 12
million users and over 100,000 installations. Among them
are a number of higher education institutions, including
Duke University and Baylor College of Medicine.
To reach this point of testing, the Hopkins-One
project staff — half of whose members came from
elsewhere at Johns Hopkins — spent thousands of hours
with university and health system employees to document
business processes and design how Hopkins will use the new
At one point early on in the testing, Debbie Jackson,
the supply chain purchasing team lead, worked through a
business scenario involving a staff member making an online
purchase from within the system.
"We know what we blueprinted and what we designed,"
she said. "Now we see how it all works together."
In her example, Jackson included a vendor that was not
approved, so when the user pushes the button to make the
purchase, the system should say no — and that's what
happened. "The purchase didn't go through, [and] that's
what we wanted in this scenario," she said.
The functional experts configured most of the system,
probably more than 80 percent, using default abilities
within the software. But when the configurations wouldn't
do the trick, they called on Hofferbert's team of
programmers to create special system "objects." These
objects — pieces of computer code — are part of
what's being tested.
And now HopkinsOne staff await the testing results. As
in any software deployment, they expect to encounter
problems, but the point is to identify those and correct
"This is really going to give us a feel of how far
we've come," said Hofferbert.
Between now and the end of March, when this cycle of
testing is scheduled to end, the teams will be running
through hundreds of processes that involve thousands of
individual steps, and each step will be carefully
documented and given either a pass or a fail, Spence said.
Through two and a half days of testing last week, 469
of the nearly 3,000 steps had been tested, and 98 percent
had passed. "It's a good start," Spence said, acknowledging
that there is still a long way to go. "We're excited to get