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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University January 8, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 16
HopkinsOne Goes Live for 11,000 Users

Showing off the vests being worn by the SWAT Team are Charlene Moore Hayes, vp for human resources, and James McGill, senior vp for finance and administration.
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Jan. 1 marks start of full-tme use of new business systems

By Jeanne Johnson

On Jan. 2, Kyalowa Monga, a biomedical repair technician, and his colleagues in Bayview Medical Center's Clinical Engineering Department wanted to order replacement light bulbs for a portable X-ray machine, but Monga kept running into roadblocks. He was trying to navigate the shopping cart feature in the new SAP software being used by HopkinsOne, the largest technological business systems project in Johns Hopkins' history.

At one point, Monga had six puzzled people gathered around him, trying to figure it all out. As it turned out, he hadn't walked through his first-time setup process, so without the right settings, he wasn't getting the information he needed to complete the process. By noon, he had completed setup, selected his vendor and ordered the right light bulbs.

They were delivered the next day.

That experience was typical for the several thousand users who have begun using the system, which had a "mini" go-live on Dec. 26 for some university employees and a Jan. 1 go-live for all Johns Hopkins employees who will access the new system to make purchases, run financial reports, file expense reports and track human resources activity, among other business-related functions.

"There's a steep learning curve any time that you learn a new system," said Ron Werthman, vice president for finance, treasurer and chief financial officer of the health system and hospital. "We've had some issues, but they're mostly user settings or workflow issues. The functionality works as expected. Considering the size and scope of this project, I think it's going reasonably well."

Ultimately, some 11,000 Johns Hopkins staff will use the new integrated SAP software.

Many employees worked long hours to prepare for the HopkinsOne launch and transition to a new system. For example, Mike Mohn, director of the health system's Material Distribution Center, began work at 6 a.m. on Jan. 1 and didn't stop until 25 hours later. After catching a few hours of sleep, he was back on the job.

HopkinsOne staff logged similar hours to get ready for the big launch and were ready early Tuesday morning to handle the inevitable questions, concerns and issues.

There were a few.

People didn't know how to print from SAP. Some didn't understand how to do first-day settings or how to log on to the system. Others mistakenly used the "back" button on their Internet browser instead of the controls within the system itself. Some travel expense reports were being mistakenly routed, and users were being timed out of the travel transaction. For a time, shopping cart users got an error message when they tried to log on.

As the issues came in, HopkinsOne project staff and so-called SWAT Team support members in the field worked to solve them.

"Being part of SWAT has been a fun collaboration," said Tina Cole, a training specialist with the university's Financial Information Technology Training Office and someone who lived through the CUFS financial system implementation about 10 years ago. "Everybody is so energized. Everybody is stepping up to the plate." Asked to compare this implementation with CUFS, Cole said, "This one is way bigger. It is chaotic, but it's organized chaos."

To help users, the HopkinsOne project established a command center on the Mount Washington campus and recruited nearly 400 Johns Hopkins employees and HopkinsOne project staff to fan out across the institutions to provide hands-on help to supplement the command center support.

"We're processing payroll and ISRs [internal service requests] and using the shopping cart. So far, so good," Werthman said, adding that "from its inception to its actualization, we've been working on this project for four years now, and it's been a real team effort. I'd like to thank everyone for their time, energy and overall support of the whole process, but we still have work to do."

Werthman pointed out that initially some aspects of the new system may seem more complex or cumbersome, "but the beauty of it is that it's an integrated system, so once you put in the information, it populates all fields. It does not require redundant data entry. It just takes time to learn."

James McGill, the university's senior vice president for finance and administration, said the HopkinsOne project team and the end-user community ought to be congratulated for working so hard and so well to bring this implementation together. "The rollout of any new system, much less one of this magnitude, has glitches that have to be fixed," McGill said. "The users have been excellent in drawing them to the attention of those people who are getting them fixed."

As HopkinsOne Executive Director Steve Golding put it in a message to staff, "Keep up the good work, hang in there and know that you are part of a truly unprecedented achievement at Johns Hopkins that will have huge benefits for many years to come."


Some Hopkinsone Milestones

First call to the help desk was at 7:21 a.m. on Dec. 26, an authorization problem fixed by 8:10 a.m.

First employee time entered in the new system was 10 a.m. on Dec. 26.

First paychecks (nearly 900) were printed on Tuesday, Jan. 2, for Jan. 5 payroll.

First item ordered was for a calendar from Office Depot, at 9:36 a.m. on Jan. 1.


How to get help

1. Visit the HopkinsOne Support Web site

2. Find a SWAT member near you: deployment/swat%20locations.htm

Glenn Small, Denise Terry and Leslie Miller contributed to this article.


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