March 19,1998

Concordia saves money through joint purchase

by Barbara Black

By combining its purchasing power with that of McGill University, Concordia has made a substantial saving in its acquisition of financial information systems software.

The new system, called SCT Banner 2000, has been bought from Systems and Computer Technology Corp., based in Philadelphia, for about $3 million, with an option to buy a student information system at a preferred rate from SCT when needed.

The entire deal, which saw McGill acquiring new financial and student information systems from SCT, was for $14 million over a five-year implementation period.

Rector Frederick Lowy hailed the cooperative venture as advantageous for everybody. "The new system gives us the financial tools for the future," he said. "Our two institutions will continue to work together on projects of mutual benefit, while pursuing our own institutional goals." Chief Financial Officer Larry English said, "A long period of consultation went into this decision. This system will ensure that the people making decisions have the information they need. It will result in better central control, planning, monitoring and analysis of our resources, and make it easier to integrate financial information into the World Wide Web."

The new system replaces CUFS (Concordia University Financial System), which had been in place for eight years, and has a history of problems related to use and access. Larry Tansey, Manager of Processes, Systems and Policies, says all this will change for the better.

"CUFS was really '60s technology," Tansey said. "With this new system, everyone at Concordia will have much better access to information. Researchers will be able to track their grant money, for example, and managers can find out whether cheques have cleared."

English, Tansey and others had been looking for a new financial system for Concordia for some time. Canada Consultants, a firm hired several years ago to help the University cut costs, had identified instances of waste, and there had been complaints that CUFS was hard to access. Last fall, Concordia and McGill combined purchasing departments under Concordia's Director of Purchasing, Joe Capano. McGill was looking for a new student information system, and invited English to sit in on discussions. The result, negotiated by Capano, was a contract with SCT that created savings for both universities of close to 50 per cent of the normal price. In addition, the new systems are Y2K-compliant; that is, they won't break down when faced with the numerals 2000 for the new millennium.

Concordia and McGill will set up project teams to ensure that the two universities adjust to each other and the new technology. Phase One of implementation should be complete by January 1999, so that the system can handle the general ledger, purchasing, accounts payable and grant management. Full deployment of the system throughout the University should be complete by January 2000.

Concordia and McGill have been exploring cooperative ventures in administrative service areas for the past year. (See CTR, "Board gets progress report," December 4, 1997.)

Copyright 1998 Thursday Report
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