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McMaster University


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - General Topics

What is Mosaic?

Many of McMaster's underlying business systems rely on old and outdated technology and were designed for a smaller, simpler university. Further, the business processes that are embedded in these systems are also outdated. This project is an opportunity both to modernize McMaster's business processes and the underlying technology. In addition, the project will expand the capabilities of McMaster's administrative units, providing many additional features.

This project will replace more than 20 distinct business systems with a single integrated  system that will allow different parts of the university to work together seamlessly with less duplication of effort.

What parts of the University will be affected?

This project contains five major components:

  1. Student Administration: functions such as admissions, class registration, degree audit and financial aid
  2. Finance: the business accounting systems which enable the University to manage revenues and expenditures, pay its bills and budget
  3. Research Administration: the pre-award systems that support researchers grant applications through to post-award and research account management
  4. Human Resources: the systems that help track employee time, manage payroll and benefits
  5. Business Intelligence: the data analysis systems that provide information for University planning and to meet reporting requirements to governments and other groups

Why now?

Several of the university's systems are at the end of their useful life. For example, the core student registration system was built in the 1980s using mainframe technology. While McMaster has made incremental improvements to many systems, the institution has reached the limit of what can be done.  It is difficult to find the expertise to maintain decades old systems and no amount of tinkering will enable these systems to match the performance of modern systems. McMaster faces some junctures where the University either needs to invest heavily in current systems or replace them.

The University also faces increasing demands for services that cannot be met with current systems. Governments and funders are demanding greater accountability and transparency regarding our finances and the university needs a system that can meet these increasingly stringent standards. Prospective students, current students and alumni all expect greater access to their information and self-service capabilities. Our researchers expect better tools to apply for and manage their research grants.

Why not sooner?

Frankly, these projects are hard to do and expensive. As long as the institution could "make do" there was significant incentive to avoid that risk; however, McMaster has reached the point where it must do something.

Have other universities done this?

McMaster lags its peer institutions in this regard. It is the only major University in Canada that doesn't have an ERP type system as a foundation for its administrative systems. The benefit of going last is that McMaster can learn from the experience of other institutions. The project team has extensively consulted with our peer institutions to learn their recommendations.

How will faculty, students and staff participate in this process?

Involving the McMaster community is a core value for the project team. More than 500 people have attended information sessions about the project. The project's Fit-Gap workshops drew in approximately 300 subject-matter experts from across the university. More than 200 staff, faculty and students attended the software vendor demos and helped the project steering committee as it chose a software vendor. Each section of the project has an implementation team and a further project advisory group made of people from the McMaster community who will be impacted by the new system. There will be additional opportunities for involvement through the Design and Build Stage.

How long will it take?

The project team is still determining a final timeline, but it is safe to say it will take several years to implement Mosaic. Initial estimates project the first part will be implemented in 2013 with most of the remaining parts launching in 2014 and 2015. (see the Project Timeline for details)

How will McMaster prepare people for the transition?

As an institution, McMaster is committed to education and we will demonstrate that in this project with numerous training opportunities for system users before the systems launch.  The project team is also developing a plan for post-launch systems training and sustainment.  The project will have a proactive change management plan to help in the transition.

Is this really a wise expenditure?

The cost of not changing is actually more expensive.

  • Cost to maintain the mainframe
  • Cost of maintaining more than 20 systems
  • Cost of stopgap measures that are used to cover over deficiencies in the current systems

As an institution McMaster needs systems that meet the increasing regulatory requirements it faces. McMaster also needs the expanded functionality. For example, researchers need better tools to manage research accounts, the student registration system needs more capacity and flexibility, and finance needs a system that meets current accounting requirements without cumbersome work-arounds.

When and how can I get training on the new system?

Training will be provided as close as possible to the time when people are expected to begin using the new system.  Recognizing that different groups across the University have different needs and constraints (e.g., busy periods), the team will tailor the delivery and types of training methods, when possible, to meet these diverse needs. The training team anticipates delivering training in a number of different forms, including classroom and online options. A training plan is currently being developed and details will be posted as information becomes available.

How will the Mosaic team communicate with the McMaster community throughout the project?

The Mosaic team will use a number of different channels to communicate with the McMaster community throughout the project and gather feedback. Examples of communication vehicles that will be used include articles in the McMaster Daily News and McMaster Update, outreach meetings, surveys, open houses, printed materials, e-newsletters, etc.

Who will be affected by this change?

Mosaic will impact the entire McMaster community, including faculty, staff and students. The level of impact will vary considerably, but everyone will, in some way, be touched by the new system.

What is Deloitte’s role in this?

After a rigorous bidding process, Deloitte was selected as the system implementation (SI) consultant for the project. As the SI, Deloitte will help McMaster configure and, in limited areas, customize the PeopleSoft ERP software that was selected in May 2012. Deloitte has extensive experience implementing ERP systems at universities in Ontario and across North America.