For the first time in over a decade, Yale’s administrative software system, which controls the University’s core financial and human resources systems, will be replaced.
In July 2015, Workday@Yale — a cloud-based platform for financial management and human capital management applications — will begin to gradually replace Yale’s current system, Oracle E-Business, which was installed over a dozen years ago. Though discussions to upgrade Yale’s system in 2008 were shelved by the financial crisis, the University formally selected Workday as its replacement in fall 2012 and has worked over the past two years to adapt the software to Yale. Still, with only a few months remaining until the formal launch, which will include the initial release of Yale’s human resources and payroll platform, all faculty interviewed remained either ambivalent or unaware of the changes to come.
“Yale’s transition from Oracle to Workday is a major step towards providing the University community with a contemporary and easy-to-use tool to support the administrative work of the University,” said Nancy Creel-Gross, assistant vice president for human resources operations and program lead for Workday@Yale, said.
“Our existing Oracle platform is at the end of [its] life, and this transition will serve to move us from this older technology to a very modern technology platform,” she said.
Creel-Gross said the benefits of the new system will include a simpler and more streamlined process for managing individual employees’ information, payrolls and benefits. In addition, Workday’s cloud-based online storage capacity means Yale no longer needs to build and maintain computer data centers to run the software, she added.
Vice President for Finance and Business Operations Shauna King, who serves as executive sponsor for the implementation phase of the project, said several peer institutions have similarly adopted Workday systems, including Brown University, the University of Southern California, Cornell University and Georgetown University. The platform is broadly considered the best choice for complex and large institutions like Yale, she added.
“[Workday@Yale leaders] have made a deliberate effort to engage literally hundreds of people from throughout campus in the design, testing and user acceptance of Yale’s new systems,” King said. “With much work yet to finish, we are well-positioned to be successful with this important effort.”
Over the past year, the University has set up a new website specifically designed to introduce the new platform and address concerns or questions. Further, the implementation team has sent out monthly e-newsletters to faculty with updates and has arranged a series of “community meetings” designed to familiarize faculty with the transition.
This outreach effort stands in stark contrast to the 2012 implementation of Shared Services, a financial management and transactional processing service platform, which many faculty criticized at the time for being executed without sufficient consultation.
Despite the broad-range impact of the new platform, faculty interviewed said they were either under-informed or skeptical about the transition to the new platform.
Of the six professors interviewed, which include two directors of undergraduate studies, only three said they were aware of the coming changes regarding Workday@Yale. One faculty member said many staff members were wary about the new system and other platforms that have been recently introduced by the Yale administration.
“Department staff in more than one office are apprehensive about the system,” Latin professor Christina Kraus said. “Shared services and other recent ‘improvements’ such as CourseLeaf have been unreliable, stressful and generally disliked.”
Kraus added that the recent complicated office software even caused the retirement of two senior administrative assistants in the Classics Department.
Though the software changes may present challenges to some faculty, others claimed that the new developments have caused little disruption within Yale’s academic departments.
“To my knowledge, this has had zero impact on me and I think on our department as well,” Archaeology Director of Undergraduate Studies William Honeychurch wrote in an email. “To be frank I barely even know what it is.”
But King and Creel-Gross said the Workday@Yale team has pushed for wide community involvement, by including over 350 administrative staff members in several meetings for feedback solicitation.
Though the first stage of the launch was previously scheduled for April, Creel-Gross said the University now plans to end the current fiscal year with Oracle.