WebFOCUS, a cloud-based, centrally supported business reporting platform launched last year at Colorado State University, is already in use by colleges, departments and units across campus, and will become the only tool available for required reporting at the end of the fiscal year – June 30, 2019.
“We’ve seen strong adoption, and the transition has been very smooth,” said John Walker, manager of the Information Systems Data Warehouse team. “We only have a few dozen users who have yet to make the switch from eThority.”
The eThority platform has been used for over a decade to create accounting/finance and HR reports at the college level, with technical support provided by the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, which originally purchased the tool. However, as the financial reporting needs of the university’s $2.1 billion budget have grown, so has the need for a tool that is not only supported centrally by Information Services, but also integrates the student component missing from eThority.
“The transition to WebFOCUS has really been a campus-wide initiative,” said Walker, who scheduled sessions on the new tool to a capacity crowd at this year’s Professional Development Institute. “CVMBS has been partnering with us on the rollout, and our team of Power Users, who helped create and refine the reports available, included representatives from seven of the eight colleges as well as some of our larger administrative units: Student Affairs, Registrar’s Office, Business and Financial Services, the University Budget Office, Admissions, Office of International Programs, Graduate School, and Athletics. We’ve developed something that will really support central collaboration among colleges, and accountants in all departments have been developing reports they can share.”
Even the selection of the new tool was driven by the wants and needs of users. The selection committee included representatives from Information Systems, Purchasing, Athletics, CVMBS and the College of Business, and received input from many campus stakeholders after RFP vendor presentations, according to Walker. WebFOCUS was unanimously selected as the preferred tool, and has been available to campus since July 2018.
Get trained on WebFOCUS
It’s vitally important for everyone who will be creating financial or HR reports for the end of this fiscal year to start using WebFOCUS as soon as possible – eThority will be turned off on June 30. And the first step to using WebFOCUS is to complete the two-hour training required to gain access to the platform.
Live training classes will be scheduled two days a week in the Campus Technology Center in Morgan Library starting in March. The core class can also be completed online through a series of 12 self-paced videos available 24/7.
Classes will be offered through June, so everyone can be ready before those fiscal year end reports are due. In addition, Power Users have been trained to assist at the department and college level. There also are ongoing Open Labs and drop-in trainings available for those who have competed training, and if you have a report you need converted, bring it in for assistance.
More information and access to training videos – class registration will open in March – available at the Information Systems website.
Based on input from the Power Users, the transition team started by replacing 20 of the most-used shared financial reports in eThority with WebFOCUS reports. They also added nine HR reports and nine student grades reports. This effort was spearheaded by CVMBS.
“It’s the same information, just in a different format,” Walker said, a process that is nearly complete. “The standard set of reports meets the needs of 70 to 80 percent of users on campus.”
One of the advantages of WebFOCUS is improved data security. As a result, some users may find they no longer have access to certain information, and anyone who will be creating or running reports in WebFOCUS will need a license for access. Licenses are available for $125 each through the RamTech Office in Lory Student Center in person or by downloading the special order form online at RamTech.
WebFOCUS can also evolve and expand to meet the reporting needs of the entire CSU System. Once it is fully implemented, Information Systems and fiscal personnel will no longer need to drive to Pueblo to work on reports for that campus, for example, a great leap forward in improving efficiency.
Walker said that Information Systems will continue to work on refining WebFOCUS. The next big step is to integrate the campus accounts related to research. The team is working with the Office of the Vice President of Research to create reports that meet their needs and better leverage CSU’s grant dollars.