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President Kaler highlights The Upgrade in State of the University Address

April 3, 2015
A photograph of University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler

During his annual State of the University Address on Thursday, President Eric Kaler highlighted our continuing focus on Operational Excellence and discussed The Upgrade. 

In his remarks delivered to students, faculty and staff in Coffman Memorial Union Theater, he offered words of support, encouragement and thanks as we approach the "cutover" to our new PeopleSoft systems. 

Here is an excerpt:

Op-ex and the Upgrade

As we turn the Strategic Plan into creative action, we must be mindful that while this is primarily a place for teaching and learning, it’s also one of the state’s largest work places, with more than 25,000 employees system wide. Advancing operational excellence has been a cornerstone of my administration. It’s not something that always tends to excite the faculty or interest students, but it will impact your lives, and I believe for the better. We want this University to run smoothly, efficiently, and at a lower cost so that we can invest more in our mission.

As you know, we’ve reallocated  $39 million over the past two years from administrative functions to core mission activities, to stem the growth of cost of attendance, and to meet inflationary pressures. I’ve committed to a similar redirection of funds for the next four years for a total of $90 million over six years. I am sometimes asked: “Why $90 million?”

Fifteen million dollars a year represents about 1% of our total state $1.5 billion worth of state appropriation and tuition revenue combined. So, over six years, we will reallocate about 6 percent,  which feels both aggressive and achievable.  Such reallocations mean adjustments to how we work, and, come next week, you will be experiencing something that will improve efficiency, but that also will affect your daily lives. April 10 begins a transition period of about two weeks for our Enterprise Systems Upgrade. Fasten your seatbelts.

Let me tell you about the Upgrade, what it means for you, and why we’re engaged in the most complex technical upgrade in the history of this University. Simply put, our business processes are outdated and need to be more efficient, and the platform they are running on is so old it is being retired by the vendor. So, starting on April 20, when the new system goes live and you fire up your devices, things will begin to look and operate differently. How you request vacation days, get reimbursed for travel, or download classroom lists is going to change. Please, learn about the Upgrade. Don't be surprised. Each of your departments has a Readiness Checklist and other information to help this transition go smoothly. 

Change is hard, particularly when we’re all busy and when many of us are naturally cynical about big system implementations. I ask you to be flexible and patient, and thank the hundreds of our colleagues who have spent the past 18 months designing this to make us a better place to work.