9/05/2012 Chris Karlesky

F&M's Project BOOST Reaches Milestone During Busy Summer

Just six months into a comprehensive, two-year project to streamline Franklin & Marshall's internal computing resources and information management, Project BOOST reached its first important landmark.

BOOST, short for Building on Opportunities for Streamlined Technology, is F&M's Enterprise Resource Planning Project that launched in January to upgrade software systems managing student and academic information, human resources, finances and admission. The finance module—part of software titled Banner—went live July 1, giving the College a more flexible accounting structure.

College Registrar and Associate Director of Institutional Research Chris Alexander said the finance project was the result of a dedicated system configuration effort.

"For our finance team, what easily could have been a yearlong project was completed in six months," said Alexander, a leader of the Project BOOST implementation team. "They made it happen within time and budget, working intensely and foregoing vacations."

Approximately 50 members of the College's professional staff have contributed time and expertise to Project BOOST, including members of the offices of business, human resources, registrar, information technology services, advancement, admission, financial aid and communications. The majority of the project's work will be completed by the end of the 2013-14 academic year. Key objectives for the project are enhancing strategic decision-making, reporting and forecasting; reducing paper and redundant data entry; and preserving the security and integrity of data.

In addition to the introduction of Banner this summer, Project BOOST reached a milestone at the end of June in the Office of Admission with the introduction of the admission system Slate. Slate drastically reduces the use of paper and enables traveling staff members to access data via mobile devices.

"Rather than working through piles of applications, the [admission] deans will have the ability to read material on mobile devices," Alexander said.

Alexander said the next major BOOST milestone is Jan. 1, 2013, when the new human resources and payroll system will be implemented. Over the summer, the BOOST team laid the foundation for a flexible and efficient way to classify positions and administer benefits and payroll deductions.

A replacement for myDiplomat, the College's Web portal, is also in the pipeline of Project BOOST.

"It's been interesting to see such a wide representation of people at F&M participating in the project," Alexander said. "And we'll look for input from many different members of the community as we continue with all phases of the project."

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