IU debuts new financial software

Open source program might save IU millions

IU plans to save millions of dollars in licensing fees and implementation costs by participating in a program to develop a free, new financial software for universities. \nThe project was the best option to replace IU's aging financial system, said Brad Wheeler, associate vice president for research and academic computing. Wheeler said the software will manage University business such as budgeting, tracking expenses, purchasing and more. \nThe software is being developed by a partnership that includes IU, the University of Hawaii, the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and the RSmart Group, a company that would like to sell support services to universities that install the free software, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. \nThe plan to develop the software is called the Kuali Project, and according to its Web site, the software will not only save money, it will also save headaches. \n"IU evaluated many options for replacing its aging financial system," Wheeler said. "This option of developing the software with partners, based on our existing IU financial system, will save IU millions of dollars in licensing fees and implementation costs."\nAccording to www.KualiProject.org, the software will be much easier for IU to implement, improve and fix because it features an open source code. It will be made specifically for universities and it will be adaptable. \nIn an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education John G. Robinson, chairman of the RSmart Group, described systems currently being sold by Oracle and PeopleSoft as, "big, expensive and complicated." He said part of the reason for this is that the financial software these companies sell is also sold to businesses, and therefore is not tuned to meet the specific needs of a university. \nThe main feature that will make the software easier for universities to use is its architecture. Because the software is being developed as a series of components that work together to create a comprehensive financial software package, universities can pick which components they need instead of getting the whole package. \nWheeler also anticpates fewer problems with the financial officers' switch to Kuali in 2006 than with the recent University-wide switch to PeopleSoft.\n"Since its design is based on the existing IU financial system, we anticipate a familiar experience for the users when it is rolled out," he said.\nAnother innovative part of the software is its open source code. This code will give research professionals across the country the ability to "engage in continuous improvement and innovation" of the software. \n"Kuali and other open source projects represent a new model for software development among universities," Wheeler said.\n-- Contact staff writer Mike Wilson at mhwilson@indiana.edu.

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