UM to Implement SAP Grants Management

Researchers will be able to track and access grants through portal

OXFORD, Miss. – As the University of Mississippi continues to experience tremendous growth, good stewardship of fiscal resources remains essential to fulfilling the university’s mission. Financial management of sponsored research funding is no exception, as the university remains committed to being one of the world’s great research universities.

To provide enhanced oversight of research funding, the university is implementing an additional component of its SAP enterprise resource planning system, SAP Grants Management. Grants Management will help ensure that external sponsored project funding is managed according to the sponsoring agency’s guidelines; provide accurate and timely reporting to sponsors, researchers and university administrators; and reduce operational costs by eliminating manual, paper-based processes for planning, managing and reporting sponsored program activities.

“From an institutional perspective, the new Grants Management system allows us to embed spending rules and legal and financial conditions under which grant funds may be accessed,” said Alice Clark, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “Additionally, it will track and store data and allow for specialized reports that would otherwise be created manually.”

The project, which is co-sponsored by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, is being led by staff members in the Office of Information Technology and the Accounting Office. The university will benefit from this project for years to come, said Larry Sparks, vice chancellor for administration and finance.

“Two of the major expected impacts of the Grants Management implementation are increased record-keeping efficiencies from both central accounting and research perspectives, and reducing our compliance risks associated with external awards,” Sparks said.

SAP Grants Management was not available when the university implemented SAP 13 years ago. This puts the UM project in the unique situation of implementing SAP Grants Management into a live SAP ERP system.

While the uniqueness of the university’s project does present its own set of challenges, the project team has met each challenge head-on and arrived at creative solutions for each of them, said Al Ling, director of business applications and ERP support and co-project lead.

“Anytime you are implementing something like SAP Grants Management into a live system with 13 years’ worth of financial data, you will face issues that you do not normally encounter during an initial ERP implementation,” Ling said. “We have benefitted immensely from our consulting partner’s experience with SAP GM at renowned research universities such as Johns Hopkins, Boston University and The Broad Institute, as that experience has led to creative solutions as we approach our first major milestone event of the project.”

Three major go-live events will mark the project, which kicked off in May. The first, taking place Oct. 27, is the introduction of new account assignment elements that will be required for all financial postings once Grants Management is launched. Due to the nature of the work being performed, the ERP system will be unavailable to campus users for this go-live, which is why a Sunday date was selected.

Noting that minimal impact to the UM user community was the major overall goal for this first go-live, Ling said, “As we were crafting the conversion plan, our goal was to make this go-live as seamless as possible for the UM user community. Based on our test results, we have achieved that goal.”

The remaining two go-live events will take place in 2014 and 2015. The first, on July 1, 2014, will be the official go-live of the SAP GM system, making all features available to users. The second go-live, on Jan. 1, 2015, will allow researchers to input their “certification of effort” for each grant received.

For more information on the new grants management program, contact the Office of Accounting at 915-6538.