Date of last assessment: October 2001
The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) is dedicated to experimental and theoretical research in elementary particle physics and in those fields that make use of its synchrotron radiation facilities, including biology, chemistry, geology, material science and electrical engineering. This includes the development of new techniques in particle acceleration and detection, and of synchrotron radiation sources and associated instrumentation. The Center is operated as a national user facility for the Department of Energy by Stanford University.
The Business Application Support (BAS) functional area at SLAC provides computing services to the Business Services Division and Human Resources Department. We are responsible for software development and maintenance of the PeopleSoftâ applications and consultation to customers with their computer-related tasks.
Our areas of support include Human Resources, Payroll, Affirmative Action, Travel, Property Control, Stores Inventory, Purchasing, Financial Reporting, General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Budgets, and Labor Distribution. During this review period, BAS consisted of 9 Software Developers, 2 PeopleSoft® System Administrators and a Manager.
The Business Information System (BIS) and “The Gateway to SLAC Resources”, our web-based information delivery systems, are managed in close coordination with the BAS Group, our Accounting staff and many others who contribute to its success. The BIS function consists of 1 web developer and a Manager.
Identification of Self-Assessment Report Staff
Names, titles, affiliations of participants
Clarice Rinard, Manager, Business Application Support of SLAC Computing Services (SCS)
Ziba Mahdavi, Manager, Business Information System (BSD)
Douglas P. Kreitz, Assistant Director for Business Services (BSD)
Scope of Self-Assessment
Discussion of Individual Objectives
Accomplishments/Project Goal Status for FY 2002:
Business Information System (BIS) –
Launch a major marketing campaign to advertise the new BIS and the Gateway To SLAC Resources.
The publicity campaign was launched, complete with a large banner encouraging staff to look to the “Gateway” for information. In addition, an article appeared in the “SLAC Bulletin Board” to make people aware of the services available. As our statistics show, we continue to increase the use of these resources. We plan to continue our awareness campaign into FY 2003.
Obtain customer satisfaction information through focus groups and survey/feedback to ensure we are meeting customer needs.
We were unable to do a formal customer satisfaction effort this fiscal year due to manpower constraints and a focus on improving systems we were already aware needed improvements. Overall, the anecdotal customer feedback we have received on the many improvements we made this year are encouraging. This goal has again been set for FY 2003.
We plan to have a workable and efficient Financial Data Warehouse in place on or before the end of FY 2002.
We made major progress toward a successful Financial Data Warehouse during the first six months of FY 2002. This included enlisting the services of an outside consulting firm to do much of the initial design and needs assessment for moving forward. The final report was produced from this first major step and we were prepared to move to “Phase II” (the implementation phase) immediately following this.
Although all systems were “go” from a technical point-of-view, the budget for this project was drastically cut mid-year such that full implementation has been postponed until FY 2004 at the earliest (pending budgetary conditions for SLAC).
Much more preparatory work continued actively on this project throughout FY 2002 and into FY 2003 in spite of the budget cut. Many decisions on the best data model, and other critical management decisions for the ultimate Financial Data Warehouse are being discussed and finalized during this hiatus in implementation of the formal warehouse. This ongoing work will ultimately shorten the implementation time once resources are re-allocated to fund the final warehouse.
Business Applications Support (BAS) –
Complete the “make-or-buy” decision in FY 2002 for the on-line time and effort reporting system, set final goals and timetables for implementing the automated system.
Due to resource shortages and budgetary constraints, we were unable to move forward on this initiative in FY 2002. Our major focus on upgrades to PeopleSoft and the excellent improvements we have made in other critical operating systems (see below) has made this a lower priority. Given the expected restricted budget for FY2003, we will not pursue this further until all, more critical, systems are improved and upgraded. In essence, we have made the decision to focus our resources on areas where the payoff in efficiency and productivity are more promising.
Complete the upgrade of the Human Resources Module in PeopleSoft® to Release 8
The upgrade process to HR release 8 continued successfully through FY 2002. This new module will be in production November 13, 2002.
Implement a “Memo Reqs” capability to modify a Purchase Order via a requisition rather than a memo
The BAS staff completed the planning and programming tasks on this project as well. This new capability will be in production on November 1, 2002.
Implement PeopleSoft® “Workflow” capability in Purchasing
The “Workflow” capability was completed in early FY 2002 and is working well.
Implement Analytical Reporting Facility (ARF) and Cost Report programs to run behind the firewall
This project was successfully completed, tested, and put into place during FY 2002.
Interface PeopleSoft® and SLAC Institutional Database (SID)
The initial requirement of this project was to eliminate double entry into SID and into PeopleSoft® – this has been successfully accomplished. Additional integration effort will be required as each new function is added to SID. Therefore, this task has changed to an ongoing integration effort, and will be pursued as time and resources permit.
Automate MARS Asset Management and Accounts Receivable phases
The automation of MARS in the Asset Management area was completed in FY 2002. Automation of the MARS Accounts Receivable is well underway and we anticipate completion during FY 2003..
Ongoing Monitoring of Business Information System (BIS) Usage
Data are automatically collected to determine trends in BIS usage. Through this automated data gathering, we are able to better understand the growth in use and contact our users for information on how we can better serve their needs. We continue to see an upward trend in use of the BIS website. This upward trend in usage is a direct reflection of how much users are coming to depend on this feature to obtain critical business information and conduct day-to-day operations such as on-line transactions in travel, property management, and purchasing.
We continue to have valuable information on the number of requests for information as well – this is an indicator of frequency of usage on each visit. We then use this information along with how our customers respond to questions on the usefulness of the information being sought.
When we combine these data, we have a more complete picture of how well the BIS is serving the SLAC community.
Monitoring of the “Gateway to SLAC Resources”
The “Gateway to SLAC Resources” was formally introduced to the SLAC community on February 24, 2002. The chart below captures the usage over the first 6 months of operations. During that time, we had 8,612 visits to the site (average 1,435/month).
We will continue to analyze the usage patterns of this new feature and obtain feedback from users to determine how to enhance and improve this centralized information resource.
Week of 02/24/2002
Week of 08/25/2002
Total # of Visits
Overall user traffic at the BIS web site is averaging 147,775 requests per month which translates to a daily average of 4,925 requests for information. This is a 29.5% increase in customer usage since the FY 2002 reporting period. Feedback from users indicate that the system is being used more widely and continues to be accepted as a rapid means of obtaining the information they need, plus provides an efficient option for conducting business.
The “Gateway to SLAC Resources” is a relatively new feature and we will continue to monitor usage over time. We expect to see a similar increase in usage as members of the SLAC community discover what an excellent place this is for “one-stop-shopping” for key information.
Delivery of accurate, on-line cost information as early in the month as possible --
Throughout FY2002, accurate financial data was available to users by the 5th working day (often sooner) of each month. We continue to do daily validation of the financial data throughout the month and this ensures that we meet this goal. We now have a proven system – it is timely, reliable, and accurate.
Other Notable Accomplishments during FY 2002
We are pleased to report that overall customer satisfaction continues to be high based on feedback we receive from our customers and from continuing reduction of “trouble calls” received. As mentioned above, we are focusing our attention on the improvement in delivery systems and better reporting formats. Customer comments are very important to us, and we have acted upon them quickly.
The BAS/BIS project continues to be conducted with SLAC staff, selecting people with skills and knowledge appropriate for their role and distributing the workload to allow people to concentrate on their areas of specialty. In some cases, we bring in outside consulting, but this is the exception. The advantage of having well-trained in-house staff means we continue to be less dependent on outside consultants as we improve our services.
1) Documentation is available on request
We continue to expand our expertise in using the PeopleSoft® system and in understanding the complexities of delivering data to our customers. Our staff’s dedication has enhanced our productivity and ability to continue to deliver an excellent, and easy-to-access Business Information System to the SLAC community.
Barrier(s) to Improvement
The upgrade efforts and production enhancements continue to delay new functions being introduced (for example: On-line time and effort reporting) however, these postponed projects are in the priority listing and will be acted on when resources are available.
Improvement Action Plan/Goals
Recognized areas of improvement
The BAS staff, in excellent coordination with the financial staff of BSD, continues to successfully deliver accurate and timely information to our users. This success continues to be achieved through much hard work of many in the Accounting area of BSD.
As indicated in this self-assessment, we have added enhancements to the BIS website in response to user feedback. The BIS website, combined with the “Gateway to SLAC Resources”, continues to be a model for using web technology to get the information into the hands of the research and business administration community quickly and accurately. To our knowledge, no other DOE laboratory has such a complete system in full operation.
Goals for FY2003
BIS/”Gateway”/Financial Data Warehouse –
SLAC | BIS |BSD
For Questions or comments, Please contact Ziba Mahdavi, Last Updated 10/04/02