Oracle Finance Update

It has now been over three months since we first went live in Oracle and we wanted to take a moment to share our progress.  We have continued to climb the steep learning curve from our Banner system which we molded to fit our needs over 15 years.  We are gaining in our understanding of the Oracle Finance platform and increasing our adoption every day and we acknowledge that the transition has not been easy for many.  Thank you for your continued patience and support as we work through the issues.    

We have automated many of our existing processes that were pen and paper or outdated and have created strong dependency on workflows — the rules that Oracle uses to route approvals. These new processes along with more advanced cloud technology will ultimately improve our efficiency, our financial stewardship, and our ability to maintain pace with technological advances.

Nevertheless, we have not been immune to our fair share of growing pains in particular around the following areas:

Expenses, Invoices & PO’s: While workflows ultimately improve efficiency, we have encountered workflow issues impacting expenses, invoices & PO’s.  Most recently, many individuals were unable to submit expense reports because of beginning-of-fiscal year changes in reporting structures.  We have identified the root cause and are reviewing actions to avoid future issues.  

Reporting: Oracle is a powerful tool but it is only as good as the data we are able to pull out of it.  We plan to use PowerBI as our long-term reporting tool, but in the short-term we will be relying on the built-in reporting that comes from Oracle.  Unfortunately, we have found that the built-in Oracle tools do not live up to our expectations.  Individuals have had a hard time viewing FY19 budget to actuals or transaction-level detail.  Nevertheless, we hope to better optimize the built-in Oracle tools by late August so that more individuals can see their FY20 budget to actuals and transaction-level detail. 

Realizing that these issues exist, we are taking a number of steps to support our user community.  Beyond the daily calls that Finance and ITS have to address both the short- and long-term needs of end-users, we plan to do the following:

  1. Drop-in Sessions:  We will continue the drop-in sessions we started earlier this year.  The next one will take place Thursday, August 8th, from 3-4:30 pm ET in Davis Family Library room 145 and sessions will be held once a week for the foreseeable future.  Details will be posted on the Oracle Resources page and on the Midd Project Ensemble site.   Please stop by or Zoom (https://middlebury.zoom.us/j/716417365, Meeting ID: 716 417 365 or +1 (646) 876-9923) with your issues so we can assist you.
  2. Change Facilitators and Other Outreach: Finance and ITS will continue to work with our change facilitators to streamline communication and ensure there is a feedback loop on issues that need our attention.
  3. Communication:  Starting this week, we plan to provide frequent updates on the status of the Oracle implementation.  Please look in Midd Points, the Oracle Resources page, and the Midd Project Ensemble site for information

Again, we appreciate all of your patience commitment to our Oracle Finance implementation.  We are confident that over the coming months our Oracle solution will be stabilized and start providing the much needed efficiencies, transparency, and oversight that we need to effectively do our work at Middlebury for the long-term.

Sincerely,

Alberto M. Citarella
Middlebury College
Associate Vice President for Finance and Assistant Treasurer

Vijay Menta
AVP & Chief Information Officer
ITS, Middlebury College

Mike Thomas
VP of Finance and Assistant Treasurer
Office of Finance and Administration