Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is the term for a system that manages the internal and external resources of an organization utilizing a single software system and a single database. In higher-education institutions, standard ERP applications typically include student and academic information, financial aid, human resources, financial management, admission and institutional advancement.

What is the cost of the project?

The estimated cost is $6 million, spread out over four years (2012–2015). That $6 million covers the cost of the software, training, consulting fees, hardware and salaries for temporary employees who will assume portions of the day-to-day workload of our implementation team. The project and its ongoing operating costs will be funded entirely by College funds.

Why do we need to invest in it?

Over the past few years, technology investments have improved the College’s infrastructure and service capabilities, but administrative database integration has not improved. A survey we conducted of 53 peer institutions found only three with systems as old as ours (and none using our current system). Furthermore, the 2009 Accreditation Report we received from our accrediting body, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, highly recommended we prioritize replacing our current ERP with a more robust and advanced system. Last winter, the College completed a comprehensive assessment of its systems with consulting partner Grant Thornton and concluded the following:

  • Departments duplicate work, create redundant local systems and manually provide analysis that should be integrated and more easily created
  • Simply placing a new set of reporting “dashboard” tools over top of the existing system is not a prudent undertaking because of its age and other limitations

Based on these findings, the College’s Senior Management and IT Governance committees endorsed the findings of the assessment and prioritized replacing the current system.

How long will it take?

The project began in earnest this calendar year and will run through 2015, though we expect the majority of the “heavy lifting” will be completed by the end of the 2013–14 academic year.

How did we choose the vendor?

Requests for proposals were issued to six companies in June 2011. Three vendors came to campus for interviews and demonstrations in September 2011. The implementation team discussed the options at length and, after checking references, recommended SunGard Higher Education. Selection criteria included the culture of our campus, the culture of the vendor, product match, technological limitations and total cost. A persuasive factor was the fact that more than half of our peer institutions are SunGard customers.

Where can I find information about how the new system functions?

For FAQs about specific functional areas, please visit the Training and Documentation section and look within the appropriate sub-section.