Starting this summer, Washington University in St. Louis will begin a multiyear effort to replace its aging human resources, finance and student information systems with a single, integrated system. When complete, faculty and staff will have improved access to the information needed to make daily and strategic decisions that advance the university’s teaching, research and patient care mission. A new student system will be implemented in the second phase of the project.
The new program, called MyDay, is designed to modernize how the university collects, manages, analyzes and reports the large amounts of data and information used to operate the university.
While replacing the systems is an important component of MyDay, there are other critical opportunities including creating greater consistency among the processes used to collect and access operational data, and reducing the number of disparate administrative systems across the university. MyDay also encompasses a number of supporting projects to ensure effective security, data integration and an improved user experience.
“MyDay is about developing new and more modern ways of managing and using the data needed to advance a complex organization like ours,” said Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration and lead sponsor for MyDay. “Our staff and faculty drive our mission, and we want to give them easier access to information to make strategic decisions. We also want to further support the important contributions they make each day to the operational excellence of the university.”
Washington University is a complex place. Annually, more than 15,000 faculty and staff teach nearly 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students; care for more than a million patients; and oversee a complicated and sizable budget, including the university’s endowment.
That all adds up to a vast amount of data to collect, manage, report and analyze. The university’s current administrative systems, such as Human Resources Management System (HRMS), Financial Information System (FIS) and Student Information System (SIS), are not able to meet current needs. Many were designed and implemented at a time when the university was much smaller. In addition, these systems — along with the more than 200 different software applications that have been developed over the years by the university’s various schools and departments — do not “talk” to each other, making it difficult to access and ensure accuracy of information.
“Our current systems are at the end of their lives. They were developed during a different time when we were a simpler institution,” Webber said. “MyDay will improve our collective ability to answer questions like: Where do I stand with research funding? How much does it cost to run an academic program? How have students with a particular academic profile performed? We don’t have the systems or processes to do this in an easy or consistent way.”
Because MyDay also emphasizes standardizing and streamlining processes — like faculty and staff recruitment and onboarding, expense reporting, time management and course registration — the change will impact everyone at the university in some way.
“For some, the change will involve whole new ways of working, and for others the change may simply be an easier way to complete current administrative tasks like reporting time or registering for classes,” Webber added.
Washington University’s schools also are supportive of the program as it will help advance their various academic programs and units.
“MyDay will help the Danforth Campus schools turn data into knowledge in order to more easily answer the basic questions about research, teaching and service that make the campus tick,” said Dennis Martin, associate dean for faculty in Arts & Sciences.
Rick Stanton, associate vice chancellor for administration and finance at the School of Medicine, agrees.
“The Medical Campus sits at the crossroads of academics, biomedical research and health-care delivery,” Stanton said. “It operates in a dynamic and fluid environment where needed changes are measured in weeks and months. The old systems — built around semesters and years — are no longer adequate. Having modern systems capable of working across missions, lines of activity, programs and locations is essential to the ability of faculty and departments to meet their real-world challenges. For all the change that this will cause, MyDay provides the essential foundation for us to be a data-driven, responsive organization that thrives in the years ahead.”
Workday platform selected
For the past two years, an executive sponsor committee, a program lead team, a 24-person selection committee and numerous subject matter experts from across the Danforth and Medical campuses assessed the university’s needs and evaluated the current systems available on the market.
The selection committee unanimously selected Workday, a leading provider of higher education cloud-based administration systems, to provide Washington University with the new platform that will replace the university’s human resources, finance and student administrative systems. The executive committee of the university’s Board of Trustees approved the project March 1.
“Workday is a market leader in this area and offers systems that we believe will meet our needs well into the future,” said John Gohsman, vice chancellor and chief information officer. “Workday’s systems are also in use at institutions of equal complexity to Washington University, including Yale and the University of Southern California. In addition, the selection committee was very impressed with the easy, friendly experience Workday systems create for the people who use them.”
“This is a once-in-a-generation project — one that will help all of us support and advance Washington University’s mission well into the future,” Gohsman added. “It is also going to be a very challenging project, and it will take several years to fully realize our vision.”
The university’s human resources and finance systems will be replaced first, an effort that will take place over a two-year period. Implementation of a new student system will follow.
“Our goal is to implement both human resources and financial systems at once, with the student system soon thereafter,” added Martin, who also represents the Danforth Campus schools on the program’s executive committee. “The human resources and financial systems on the market today are more advanced than student information systems. By focusing on these systems first, we will be able to take advantage of more robust tools and applications being developed for student systems.”
Learn more at upcoming town halls
A series of town halls are planned to help the university community learn more about the MyDay program and the planning efforts that will take place over the next few months:
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday, March 12
Cori Auditorium, Medical Campus; Presenter: Rick Stanton
Open to all faculty, staff and students
2-3 p.m. Wednesday, March 14
North Campus Café; Presenter: Amy Kweskin, chief financial officer
Open to all faculty, staff and students
10-11 a.m. Tuesday, March 20 (rescheduled)
Anheuser-Busch Conference Room, West Campus Library. Presenter: Legail Chandler, vice chancellor for human resources
Open to all faculty, staff and students
In addition, Webber will share information about the MyDay program as part of the regular Danforth Staff Council Town Hall from 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, in Hillman Hall’s Clark-Fox Forum. To register for the Danforth Staff Council Town Hall, which is open to all staff on the Danforth Campus, visit the Staff Council website.
Additional opportunities to learn more are being planned for faculty and students, as well as for staff who are unable to attend the town halls.
To learn more and to sign up for updates, ask questions or request a presentation to your school, division or department, visit myday.wustl.edu.