MEMORANDUM


Table of Contents

MEMORANDUM
  • Progress
  • Major issues
  • Plans

  • MEMORANDUM

    To:

    BASIS Steering committee
    Gerry Bomotti, Gene Buckley, Dick Cottrill, Tom Dorre, David Holmes, David Martinson, Susan Unger, and Bob Zimmerman

    From:

    W. David Wimberly

    Copy:

    Colleen Briney
    William Rains
    BASIS II project file

    Subject:

    BASIS II status

    Progress

    Fact finding meetings and walk-throughs continue to be the primary activities for the project team. Some of the topics of these meetings have become more detailed as specific functional requirements of the system have begun to be addressed. Meetings held during March included:

    3/02, 04 & 11

    These meetings addressed the need for available funds checking and the specific requirements associated with that function. General resolution was reached on the various organizational and expenditure classification levels that are to be used, an approach to allow the encumbrance of inter-departmental purchases, what the requirements are for accounting for encumbrances, and identification of the transactions which are to perform funds checking. The fact that agreement was reached on not storing encumbrances within the general ledger and that funds checking could be performed using data current as of the beginning of the business day alleviates concerns which caused this to be listed as a major issue in last month's report.

    3/09

    This was a detailed discussion with Accounts Payable regarding current credit memo processing and problems.

    3/10

    This meeting was a review of the functions performed by Esther Pittman, the voucher examiner. We found this area, also known as disbursing, to be a very complex and bureaucratic process. Only after subsequent phone calls, meetings and research have we begun to understand Esther's job.

    3/12

    This was an introduction to the state laws and regulations regarding vouchers and a review of how these very unique requirements were met through and around the MSA system. This past approach revolved around MSA Paying Entities and has made it somewhat more difficult to grasp the true vouchering requirements. We feel we now have a good handle on these needs thanks to Financial Affairs' answers to a continual barrage of questions and to a great deal of research and persistence on Paul's and Sandra's part.

    3/13

    We termed this the voucher blue sky meeting where we wiped the slate clean and dreamed about how our ideal system would handle vouchers. Unfortunately the internal auditors shot down the really great idea: eliminate vouchers. Actually the proposal was to not print the voucher document if it did not have to go to Little Rock. Even if we cannot get by with that, many other good ideas were presented and are being considered for our new system.

    3/24

    This meeting was conducted with representatives from the Treasurer's office to review their functions involving accounts payable check processing and travel advances. Many new ideas were proposed that would solve problems and streamline operations for both of these areas. They will, of course, also need approval by Internal Audit.

    3/25

    This meeting was held with Physical Plant representatives to discuss their department's requirements as they related to BASIS II. This was one of the few times we have been surprised. Physical Plant expected BASIS II to include development of an inventory control system for their warehouse to replace the APS IC module recently implemented. See "Major issues" for more on this topic. Their purchasing and receiving needs, outside of the inventory system interface, seem normal as are the majority of their inter-departmental chargebacks. Some construction type work, however, requires the use of dummy internal purchase orders to identify specific encumbrances and allow centralized tracking of the work (charges). This is another issue mentioned under "Major issues".

    3/26 & 27

    We were very fortunate in being able to travel to Little Rock to meet with our associates at the Cooperative Extension Service. They were excellent hosts and have implemented systems and procedures to meet their needs in spite of numerous obstacles. They definitely have some very unique requirements which we needed to know about for our system design (we hope to meet their needs). One of the major benefits I saw in the trip is their realization that they could directly access their data within our system for preparation of their reports. The idea of their programmers coming to Fayetteville for training in Natural was discussed.

    Computing Services continues to prepare written summaries documenting these meetings. It always takes several orders of magnitude more time to prepare these summaries than the original meeting required. However, we feel these summaries are important and worthwhile since they:

    Other activities which took place during March included:

    Major issues

    Many of our system concepts are being firmed up as a result of our meetings and the associated research. However, as we explore some of the remote operations new requirements are emerging. Simultaneously, questions are being raised concerning issues we thought we had understood and points on which decisions had been made. These items include:

    1. Physical Plant's warehouse inventory system works very well with the current purchasing system because both are modules of the Advanced Procurement System. The purchasing functions of APS will be replaced by BASIS. Physical Plant's inventory system needs to know what stock items are on order and when items are received. It must also identify items that need to be ordered and should assist in generating the order. Physical Plant fears they will be taking a "step backward" with BASIS unless it includes an integrated inventory system. The next best thing would be to develop interfaces between BASIS and the APS IC system to meet the above needs. Either way, the priority of this work needs to be identified in relation to the purchasing/AP system and the phase 2 General Ledger rewrite. One alternative would be to let the Physical Plant programming resource develop the inventory system integrated with BASIS using Natural and Adabas.

    2. Another problem that emerged and seems to be unique to Physical Plant is the need to treat some of their internal work orders as real purchase orders. This is how special construction orders are handled now with MSA writing dummy checks to Physical Plant. This is also how all inter-department services were handled at one time. However, the approach that has been conceived for inter-departmental orders within the new system does not include this capability. Other alternatives will have to be sought.

    3. There is uncertainty over how to date our expense transactions. We want to move away from the current practice of recognizing the expense based upon the date of the vendor's invoice, since it may be several months or years old when processed. The initial idea was to use the date of the receipt of goods or services and to generate the expense at the time of receipt. This concept has come into question, and further analysis of the requirements and alternatives is now needed.

    4. During our visit at Cooperative Extension Service we came to learn of a significant difference in financial reporting for federal funds versus state funds. We had previously thought the only problem was the different fiscal year, the federal year starting October 1. What we learned, however, is that the federal government wants the expenditure reported during the period the funds were obligated (when the purchase order was cut) and not the date of the expense (when the goods were received or the vendor invoice date we use). This is a major problem since our general ledger expense data is coded with our expense date. We had hoped to eliminate the need for Agri and CES to maintain separate books, but to do so we will have to identify their expenses based upon date of obligation versus date of expense. This will be a major challenge within the constraints of the MSA general ledger system.

    5. The CES cost centers do not define an organizational structure as they do generally for the Fayetteville campus. Instead they define funding sources. The identification of the cost center to be used for a purchase is not made by the unit making the purchase requisition, but is controlled within the central CES office. This means the remote unit, a county office, would not know the cost center to put on their requisition; yet the cost center is the piece of information that we will use with TARGET to determine who approves the transaction. If a cost center is used that is associated with that county with the assumption that the central office will change it later, this contradicts the TARGET premise that the transaction cannot be altered by the reviewers. It is even more complicated because the data a reviewer would be altering is the data that determines the reviewers. This is just one more hitch to be worked out.

    6. The following items were listed last month and are still considered major issues: the viability of departmental receiving, the need for word processing like capabilities for requisition and purchase order entry, the large number of exceptions and special handling requirements, the growing number of interfaces to external systems, and the need for assistance in marketing our system.

    Plans

    The general interviews and walk-throughs with various offices have provided the Computing Services team with necessary background information and defined the general system requirements. In addition, we have begun to address and comprehend the detailed needs of complex issues such as vouchers. Activities for the coming month will build and expand on this base and yield new forms of system documentation. These will include:

    1. Reviewing our notes and meeting summaries to identify questions and issues that we left unanswered and initiate discussions to address them. Specifically, those major issues previously identified will be further investigated and alternatives analyzed.

    2. Presenting our vendor file design for review and comment. This will allow us to begin educating Business Affairs and Financial Affairs representatives in our methods of documenting ADABAS files.

    3. Documenting the overall system at a high level including many of the basic requirements.

    4. Analyzing and documenting the data requirements for requisitions, purchase orders, and their supporting tables.

    5. Meeting with departmental representatives regarding some of the basic concepts we plan to incorporate into our system and soliciting their opinions and feedback.

    6. Continuing development and testing of the NSM application framework enhancements and implementation of these for an existing application.

    7. Developing a screen to allow users to maintain the new user profile parameters that have been defined. These parameters will allow each user to easily customize the Natural environment to suit his personal needs or desires.

    Please feel free to raise any questions or concerns prompted by this report.