What is SAP?
SAP is a multinational software coporation headquarted in Walldorf, Germany. The name 'SAP' stands for Systems, Applications, and Products in data processing. At the University of Mississippi, the SAP ERP system (or just 'SAP' for short) supports the data used by various university offices, departments, and services.
SAP's vision is to help the world run better and improve people's lives. This is our enduring cause; our higher purpose.
Our customers look to us to help them Run Simple – to seamlessly connect people and technology, real-time. We help them re-imagine business and life to drive meaningful impact globally. With SAP HANA as the great simplifier, our customers are creating breakthroughs that solve complex, intractable problems.
Students interact with SAP data through the myOleMiss portal when they create their class schedules, update their contact information, etc. Faculty and advisors use myOleMiss to record grades and track student progress. And all employees can use it to review payroll and other employment information.
Visit SAP Support Some employees also have access to the SAP GUI, a graphical user interface that allows them to manage and review data in ways not available through the myOleMiss portal. This access requires authorization by their supervisors and special training on the parts of the system they will have access to. Refer to SAP Support for more information.
- K. Gates, February 2012
Shortly after Robert C. Khayat became Chancellor of the University of Mississippi in 1995, he initiated a comprehensive review of university business processes. This activity evolved into a major reengineering effort and the replacement of aging mainframe computer systems and software. Since the early 1980s, UM had run its business and academic software applications on homegrown COBOL code using a hierarchical CA-IDMS database and hosted on a succession of IBM and Amdahl mainframes with the MVS operating system. The COBOL and CA-IDMS database implementation was later augmented with Huron Objectstar, a rapid-development application system. While the mainframe platform had served UM well for almost twenty years, the business process review specified that UM would need to modernize its IT infrastructure and move to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in order to fully support the University's mission and future needs.
During this same time period, Carolyn E. Staton was named Provost, Johnny M. Williams was named Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, and Emmette F. (Buster) Hale was named Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology (CIO). These three individuals served as the executive sponsors for the ERP project. It was decided early on that a single ERP product would be selected vs. "best of breed," mostly to exploit the single database feature of an ERP and to avoid the costs associated with maintaining multiple vendor platforms and expertise. UM's original ERP implementation included the Oxford, Southaven, and Tupelo campuses and the Grenada and Booneville sites.
About forty UM employees participated in an ERP selection process that included detailed functional specifications, scripted demonstrations, and a formal evaluation mechanism. Almost all of these employees came from functional areas. In 1997, UM selected SAP as its ERP solution. Shortly afterwards, UM initiated procurements for hardware and consulting services. Sun Microsystems was selected as the hardware vendor, and Oracle was selected as the database platform. SAP Consulting, with Holland Technology as the prime subcontractor, was selected as the implementation partner. Through various mergers and reorganizations, the lead consultants who worked on the original UM SAP project are now associated with LSI Consulting.
UM held a project kick off in 1998, launching the implementation of SAP's financial, plant maintenance, materials management, and human resources modules. The first three went live in 1999, and human resources went live in 2000. These "go lives" were planned with the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem in mind.
At that point, SAP's student system, known then as Campus Management, was still in development, and Arizona State University (ASU) was serving as the pilot university for the U.S. In the early 2000's, ASU withdrew as a pilot, citing other more pressing university priorities, and SAP approached UM about serving in this role. UM agreed, and, thus, the four pilots for the Campus Management module became UM, Newcastle University (Great Britain), KU Leuven (Belgium), and the University of Basel (Switzerland). Although the role of pilot would require a substantial investment of resources and personnel, e.g., "sweat equity," UM embraced this role, viewing it as an important opportunity that would result in direct influence on product functionality. Richard (Rick) Thurlow, longtime manager of UM's legacy student information system, played a critical part in helping SAP developers understand the requirements of typical U.S. university.
UM's Campus Management implementation began in September 2001 with the definition of the academic structure and culminated in May 2003 when UM transitioned to the new platform for everything except transcript processing. The Amdahl mainframe was taken out of commission in December 2003. By then, UM was fully live with SAP for all business and academic functions.
UM has continued to implement new functionality, including a digital imaging system, SAP Adobe Interactive Forms, SAP Process Integration, SAP Netweaver Portal, and SAP Business Information Warehouse. In 2008, UM implemented degree audit within what is now called Student Lifecycle Management (SLcM). The current area of focus is mobility, and UM is serving as a ramp-up customer for Netweaver Gateway.
In 2007, after evaluating student information system options, the UM Medical Center made the decision to partner with the UM Oxford campus to have its student system hosted in SAP. This project had a phased go live beginning in June 2008 and continuing through January 2009. Whereas the other campuses are all hosted in the same SAP client and share configuration, the UM Medical Center is hosted in a separate client allowing for logically separate implementations but still benefitting from running on shared hardware, operating system, and database platforms.
When university leaders began looking at ERP options in 1997, they sought a committed partnership that would carry UM into the next 15-20 years. They set as a goal not only to implement an ERP system but to put in place a flexible, lasting technology infrastructure that would help advance the university's mission for the long term. SAP has met this need superbly as is evidenced by numerous projects that have been implemented throughout the last decade, projects that were unknown at the time the software was selected. Today, UM is able to grow and adapt to the changing world with relative ease due to the vision and investments in technology that began over fifteen years ago.