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7 lessons learned during our ESM Implementation

Professional services are critical to the success of your implementation. And when included, they actually save your institution valuable time and resource costs.

Pima Community College, located in Tuscan, Arizona, embarked on a project to implement Ellucian Spend Management. And along the way, they learned a few lessons. During Ellucian Live 2022, Stephen Chambers, principal analyst, technology at Pima Community College shared seven lessons he and his team learned during evaluation and implementation. Here’s a recap.

 

1. Develop within the environment you’re invested in
Before you even start down the path of implementing a spend management system, you need to find the one that is right for your institution. Ellucian Spend Management is built to work with Ellucian Banner and Ellucian Colleague. Using Ellucian Ethos integration, the solution easily connects with your existing Finance environment, minimizing the amount of dual maintenance and process disruption. This approach also takes advantage of your existing setup so that you can minimize the impact to your existing processes while still reaping the benefits of Ellucian Spend Management.
 
2. Include professional services hours in the contract
While it’s tempting to start removing implementation hours to keep costs in check, Stephen advises against removing professional services assistance. Without these services, your institution will need to rely on raising tickets with Ellucian’s support team, which, while helpful, simply isn’t enough.
 
Professional services are critical to the success of your implementation. And when included, they actually save your institution valuable time and resource costs.
 
3. Include tech-savvy functional – or functional-savvy technical – resources in your configuration discussions
At the start of your implementation, the team will engage in discussions with ESM and Ellucian regarding the system’s configuration. It’s important that these discussions include tech-savvy functional resources and/or functional-savvy technical resources. Why? Because these resources understand both sides of the coin and can provide input into a configuration that a purely functional – or purely technical – resource cannot.
 
Make sure these individuals understand how your Ellucian Banner or Ellucian Colleague Finance system is set up. These inputs will be invaluable as you make decisions about the options available in the Ethos-supported integration provided by the Ellucian Spend Management suite.
 
4. Consider the various data feed integrations
First and foremost, look at the integration with your Ellucian Finance system’s chart of accounts. For Banner, that means the FOAPAL elements. You’ll also want to understand the initial data feed, as well as the ongoing inactivation/activation over time so you can determine the frequency with which you pass information from your Finance system to ESM using the standard Ethos integration provided.
 
Pima CC has activated single sign-on (SSO) for active employees only, which helps maintain access and security. A nightly user feed brings specific users and types of security into ESM. User groups are then maintained exclusively within ESM, which also helps to manage dual maintenance efforts.
 
5. Choose where your workflows will live
When configuring your system, your institution will have the option to decide where various workflows reside. Pima Community Colleges uses the requisition workflows within Banner and breaks them down to a FOAPAL element level to pass over to Ellucian Spend Management. Currently, the majority of workflows remain within their Banner instance, but the team did decide to have a half dozen exclusively in Ellucian Spend Management.
 
6. Only import a subset of suppliers into Ellucian Spend Management
If your institution is like Pima Community College, you have years or even decades’ worth of supplier data living in your Finance system. And it’s likely that much of this data is outdated or inaccurate. Instead of importing all supplier data into Ellucian Spend Management, consider implementing a subset of suppliers based on recent purchasing and payment activity. Your institution can determine the definition of “recent” but regardless of what you decide, you’ll minimize the amount of outdated information that you import into Ellucian Spend Management.
 
Beware of this “gotcha:” one thing that surprised Pima Community College when they imported supplier data was the auto emails. When they imported their suppliers into Ellucian Spend Management, the system auto-generated an email to these suppliers with generic text. Many of Pima CC’s suppliers were surprised by this email, but thankfully agreed to accept these automated emails ongoing. Before you conduct your import, you may want to give your suppliers a heads up so they are aware that an automatic email from your new system will be coming their way.
 
7. Recognize that you’ll have some dual maintenance (and be ok with it!)
When integrating a spend management system with your finance system of record, some dual maintenance is inevitable. But your goal is to reduce the amount of dual maintenance needed. Because Ellucian Spend Management is integrated via Ethos with your Banner or Colleague Finance system, you’ll be able to limit the amount of dual maintenance to fields such as units of measure, locations, auxiliary fields, commodity codes, index codes (if you use them), and tax codes.
 
Ongoing, the team at Pima Community College will continue to monitor their data feeds and Ethos integrations to identify opportunities where they can continue to improve and streamline spend management processes at the college.
 
To learn more about how your institution can improve spend management with Ellucian Spend Management, click here.

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