Ignite brings Baylor’s financial, HR systems to the cloud

MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist

By McKenna Middleton | Opinion Editor

Baylor’s financial and human resources systems are in the initial stages of a major overhaul. Becky King, Enterprise Resource Planning project director and associate vice president of Information Technologies, said the older Enterprise Resource Planning software needs a major update to be able to support projects like Illuminate, Baylor’s five-year strategic plan.

This initiative, called Ignite, will only affect the university’s old Enterprise Resource Planning systems, which include processes such as financial management, budget planning, human resources and payroll.

“What sparked it is that the university has a lot of plans — important plans —Illuminate being the picture of those plans. And our processes and the systems that the administrative side of the house had in place to support their work are very antiquated, they’re very old,” King said. “The human resources system that we’re using was installed in the early ’90s.”

The proposed implementation of a human resources and financial cloud-based system was approved unanimously at the Board of Regents meeting on May 11, the same meeting in which the Illuminate five-year strategic plan was approved by the board.

The cloud-based system will allow more administrative processes to be integrated, since they are coming from one vendor: Oracle.

The Ignite project team is working alongside the Huron Consulting Group, which has helped other institutions with projects like this. Huron provides the university with a step-based process and methodology for bringing the Oracle cloud system to Baylor. The team is in the beginning phase of the two-year project.

“We’re in it for the marathon, not the sprint. It’s going to be over two years, but we have a really good group of people, very knowledgeable, very committed to making improvements for the campus,” King said.

Mark Mastin, Enterprise Resource Planning change management lead and senior director for IT, is leading a team that will help acclimate the university to the new cloud-based system.

“I think one of the key strategies for communicating this is, right now it’s communication to campus, but it’s very basic information as we’re planning in that initiate phase — a lot of planning. But as the project moves forward, the circle of people on campus that have more detailed information will just continue to grow,” Mastin said.

Mastin said the only students who notice the change will likely be student workers who will have a new way of inputting time cards and checking pay stubs.

“As far as students are concerned where they’re registering for classes, checking their grades, that is going to be the same,” Mastin said. “If a student is not a campus employee, there will probably be some aspect of this that they see, but I’m not really sure what that would be.”

Though Ignite will not affect student systems like Bearweb or Canvas, the initiative will still bring plenty of change.

“It’s not only a new system that people are going to have to learn, there’s also going to be processes that are changing as we build the system. So in some cases, people are going to have to learn new processes,” Mastin said. “It’s going to touch some people more than others, but just the size of the impact is really big, so that’s something we will continue to work through.”

King said the cloud-based system offers advantages such as easier disaster recovery since all the data will be in the cloud instead of on on-campus computers.

“The cloud [Enterprise Resource Planning] ERPs are relatively new — for Oracle and their competitors,” King said. “The cloud systems are built on standard best practices, so it’s not as important anymore that Baylor have 15 steps in a process, because that’s the way Baylor has always done it. It’s more important that we are doing this the best way, the most efficient way to achieve an outcome.”

King said she hopes this change will ultimately bring more efficiency to the university.

“Improving the processes in the university hopefully allows people and other resources to be applied to other value-added things, to support Illuminate and other things,” King said.