The data game

The UAE University wanted to streamline its administrative systems to improve service delivery. It chose Sungard - a vendor familiar to academic institutions. Sherief Younis finds out if it shed some light on the situation.

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By  Sherief Younis Published  April 1, 2007

Universities and technological institutions in the region have recognised that IT has a pivotal role to play in education and the UAE University in Al Ain is no different. Data organisation and accurate replication was both laborious and increasingly problematic.

It needed a system to streamline its unregulated HR data and allow details to be electronically viewed and retrieved. Under its old Sungard student information version 6.0, data on the same accounts had to be entered separately into different systems. Such duplication was not only time consuming, but increased the potential for human error.

"We had several databases that contained similar data. For example, when I got hired, my details would be added to the HR database, payroll database and the finance database. Having three databases was a problem because information could be misspelled or entered incorrectly. The data would be all wrong. The benefit of having one suite of software means the data only has to be entered once; so when I'm hired as an employee, all my particulars are entered once and they don't have to be replicated," explains Abdul Nasser, chief financial planning officer at the UAE University.

As part of its integrated business information system, the university replaced administrative systems with enterprise-wide software, consisting of Sungard's Banner software, student information systems, human resources and finance, and Luminis portal. As it was already a Sungard user, it upgraded its HR and finance systems to the latest SunGard offering and went live early last year.

"Before we implemented the Banner HR, we had to upgrade Sungard's student information system from the older 6.0 version of the system. We had made a lot of modifications to the version so the software didn't really look like a Sungard product. In April 2006 we went live with version 7.0 of their student information system," says Nasser.

Although the univeristy upgraded its Sungard solution, it went through a comprehensive selection process to determine which system could best meet its demand - turning down Oracle and Peoplesoft in favour of Sungard's expertise in education.

"When we were considering the ERP software there was a big process where different vendors put forth a proposal and brought their products to the table, but Sungard was mainly chosen for their presence in the region," he says.

As a result of consolidating all the university's information into a single location, the enhanced transparency enabled university staff to track purchases and make more efficient transactions than before.

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