BASIS Steering committee
Susan Unger, and
W. David Wimberly
BASIS II project file
BASIS II status
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
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.
This was a detailed discussion with Accounts Payable regarding
current credit memo processing and problems.
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.
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
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:
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.
This meeting was conducted with representatives from the
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.
This meeting was held with Physical Plant representatives
their department's requirements as they related to BASIS II.
This was one of the few times we have been surprised.
expected BASIS II to include development of an inventory control
system for their warehouse to replace the APS IC module recently
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
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:
- promote discussion of the topics
within the Computing Services project team,
- require us to further research the topics
(the Arkansas State Accounting Procedures Manual has been very useful),
- provide our users the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings
as soon as possible,
- document our activities and understandings
(if for no other reason, just in case that Mack truck finds one of us),
- and serve as reference resources
for the team as we progress through the project.
Other activities which took place during March included:
- The TARGET proposal was reviewed again, and changes were
made so that the document is more appropriate for presentation to
the general university community.
This is Revision 2 of the document,
which I believe will be shared with selected individuals from
user offices for review and comment.
- A listserv has
been setup for the project, BASISII@uafsysb.
This will provide an e-mail forum for the discussion of project
a convenient means of keeping interested parties informed of activities.
After some discussion regarding who should be allowed on the list,
I have assumed that it will require a referal from someone on the BASIS
steering committee or Colleen Briney or William Rains.
- Kathryn Cantrell, our technical representative, has been making
good progress on the development and testing of a new model program
that incorporates many new functions.
One of these is the ability to suspend one activity, go to
another screen and complete some action there, and return to
where you started.
This and other models she will be developing will be the
foundation for our future programs.
We plan for many of these to be program generated, another project
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:
- 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
One alternative would be to let the Physical Plant programming resource
develop the inventory system integrated with BASIS
using Natural and Adabas.
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The following
items were listed last month and are still considered major
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.
The general interviews and walk-throughs with various offices have
Computing Services team with necessary background
information and defined the general system requirements.
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:
- Reviewing our notes and meeting summaries to identify questions and
issues that we left unanswered and initiate discussions to address
Specifically, those major issues previously identified will be
further investigated and alternatives analyzed.
- 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.
- Documenting the overall system at a high level including many
of the basic requirements.
- Analyzing and documenting the data requirements for requisitions,
purchase orders, and their supporting tables.
- Meeting with departmental representatives regarding some of
the basic concepts we plan to incorporate into our system and
soliciting their opinions and feedback.
- Continuing development and testing of the NSM application framework
implementation of these for an existing application.
- 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