Collaboration Leads to Improved Compass Reporting

April 11, 2011

One of the biggest challenges across campus during the implementation of Compass has been the unwieldy way the new financial tool performs reporting.

At the recent Employee Town Hall, Executive Vice President for Finance Mike Mandl reported that the one IT-related topic discussed was the need to improve reporting for Compass. Thus far, it had been a challenge because Emory did not have the appropriate tools available to build user-friendly reports. While the Business Intelligence project will eventually revamp Compass reporting, an interim solution was needed to bridge the gap.

Considering some quick fixes for the problem, John Notarantonio and David Miller in UTS Enterprise Applications began brainstorming options similar to the Remedy reporting used for the UTS Healthcheck. These reports had been well-received, so an emphasis was placed on doing the same kind of reporting for Compass.

In early December, Notarantonio and Miller, along with Edie Murphree, vice president of finance; Belva White, associate vice president and controller; and Steve Hall, director of financial projects, moved forward to implement a new reporting tool for the Compass data. The finance department, in conjunction with a campus reporting focus group, has worked together to design and create a reporting tool called Financial Online Reporting Services (FORS).

Since that time, the focus group has conducted roadshows of the reporting tool to positive reviews. The Business Officers Forum attendees actually clapped at the end of the presentation!

FORS was also presented to a group of front-line users, who were later surveyed. After spending only one afternoon on FORS, they gave the system high marks for responsiveness and ease of use. In answer to the question, "How effective will this solution be at meeting your overall reporting needs?" the average score was 4.7, with 5 being the highest.

The overall goal of FORS is to provide user-friendly reporting. Says Murphree, "I am very excited about this effort from the focus group and the feedback and suggestions we have received from campus users. These reports will begin to lay the foundation for the look and feel of the reports in the new data warehouse."

In preparation for go-live, the focus group has reviewed the final version of the tool and planned the service launch checklist, which included go-live activities such as training, documentation and support. The tool is rolling out in two phases: first to 200 high-level users on March 31, and then to the 5,200 remaining users, scheduled for April 18.

We are already beginning to receive work reduction estimates from excited users in acceptance testing. One department reports they will save about two days of report generation and formatting work per month (24 days per year), while managing just 100 projects. It is hard to quickly determine if every department will experience similar productivity gains, but if they do the savings could be quite large.

Emory has more than 22,000 projects in the new FORS system. About 80 percent have current year activity and likely require monthly monitoring.

The speed with which the project has evolved is very impressive, going from putting a charter together in December to a promising product at the end of March. Through real collaboration, we have quickly addressed the call for improvement and we are excited that this solution will provide great benefit to our Compass community.

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University Service Desk at 404-727-7777, Monday - Friday 7 am - 6 pm.