YaleNext reforms already underway

The first batch of reforms under the banner of YaleNext appeared over the summer, and more are on the way this fall.

The multimillion-dollar upgrade of Yale’s internal computer systems — dubbed YaleNext — aims to make the University’s business operations more consistent and efficient. The project’s cost, which was not disclosed, has been scaled back some 60 percent and spread out over a longer timetable because of the recession.

This summer, a new employee services center opened to handle most basic human resources transactions. All employees can call this centralized office on Whitney Avenue, where about a dozen staffers assist them using the same technology as corporate customer service representatives.

“It actually works,” said Anne Murray-Randolph, the new assistant vice president for strategic projects and communications who was brought to Yale last fall to help the administration communicate with the staff on YaleNext.

Most questions can be answered by center staff immediately, and the rest within 24 hours, Murray-Randolph said.

Other efforts over the summer, she said, focused on introducing all the enabling software that lays the groundwork for future reforms, including a new server, a new database and a new expense reporting system.

Under pressure to reduce costs because of the University’s darkening financial forecast, about 30 percent of the 100 or so consultants working on the project have been sent home, Murray-Randolph said.

Meanwhile, the savings from YaleNext are already starting to appear. For example, the new expense-management system is projected to save the University $500,000 a year, Murray-Randolph said. Yale can also save $700,000 by confining all computer purchases to a preset slate of Apple and Dell configurations.

And new budget-modeling software, which will debut this fall, will help administrators avoid many of the difficulties that plagued last year’s stressful budget planning, when mapping budget scenarios using older technology proved time-consuming and imprecise.

The University has also consolidated its software that manages online content into a single system, using a different one than previously planned because it was four times cheaper, Murray-Randolph said. The administration is also in the final stages of testing a new central portal, similar to undergraduates’ YaleStation Web site, due at the end of the month.

Comments

  • AP Styleguide

    under way

  • Shenanigans

    Most of this is stuff I don’t ever encounter and can’t comment on, but I have to call shenanigans on the statement that Yale can save $700k by limiting all purchases to a subset of Apple and Dell computers. As anyone who has looked at the e-portal pages can tell you, the retail prices on the Dell website are cheaper than Yale’s “discount” prices.

    And when someone directly involved in a project expresses something akin to surprise that a big project works, I remain skeptical. Nothing against Anne Murray-Randolph, but I think an independent analysis would be far more telling.

    (Plus – 100 or so consultants? Wow.)

  • The Emperor’s New Clothes

    “It actually works”? Good to know. I thought it worked before. In my 20 years at Yale I have to say I never experienced a single frustration with Benefits. I’m not sure what problem justifies the outlay of cash and outsourcing as it sure didn’t appear on my list of broken things at Yale.

    I’ll echo #2 and propose some financial accountability about the real “savings” before anyone declares success. It’s shocking that we don’t seem to have that transparency any more, even internally. Perhaps it is a feature of the vaunted corporate life that we must line up and learn to embrace.

  • Reality Check

    This article is disappointing on many levels — it seems to serve only as a mouthpiece for Ms. Murry-Randolph and does not deliver any concrete information.

    1) What monies has Ms. Murry-Randolph’s initiatives actually saved the University? Projected savings are notoriously inflated. I agree with the comment above — the configured systems through Dell are ALWAYS more expensive than the systems we can configure/purchase directly through Dell.

    2) The online system that Ms. Murry-Randolph refers that will move all Yale websites into a single platform is the open source Web Content Management System, Drupal. While a wonderful and free CMS designed for single websites, it is not a sustainable long-term enterprise solution. How much will the University be forced to spend in 5 or 10 years to extract it’s hundreds of websites from the jungle of Drupal installations? It is a short-sited solution. Shame on Ms. Murry-Randolph for spinning it like a well-conceived solution that will save Yale money.

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