About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 21, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 26
Need for HopkinsOne Highlighted in Town Hall Meetings

By Jeanne Johnson

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 HopkinsOne, 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 people."

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.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |