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A Big Project Goes Mega
Business Software System Grows New Arm

Almost 2 years ago, the NIH Record reported on the campus' major unseen construction project — the NIH Business System, or NBS, which was conceived to replace a homegrown system called the Administrative Database, a software behemoth that was involved in virtually every business transaction in which NIH engaged. Since then, the NBS has merged with the Enterprise Human Resources and Planning project — that is, it grew a new arm — and the overall effort is now known as the NIH Business and Research Support System.

When we last checked in, NIH was about to choose between two options for modernizing the way in which it conducts administrative processes: buying from the commercial market an enterprise resource planning (ERP) package, or developing a "homegrown" application, such as the current Administrative Database (ADB). Until March 2001, the NBRSS project focused on the feasibility of these options. After extensive study, a decision was made to replace the ADB with an ERP — a single system that will link the NIH administrative and scientific support functions, including some not currently available through ADB.

The Oracle ERP software package chosen to configure the NBS will coordinate financial management, property, travel, service and supply fund, research and development contracts, and acquisition. In a fully integrated ERP system, each business transaction instantly updates data in all related areas. Successful implementation of the NBS will increase the efficiency of NIH business processes, and ultimately enable better administrative support for science.

After Oracle won the ERP sweepstakes, the project entered its second phase — system implementation. This involved representatives of all the institutes and centers, and the Office of the Director, and included a project management team and work teams for each affected area — property, travel, service and supply fund, research and development contracts, and acquisition.

A contractor, KPMG Consulting, provided staff to complement the NIH implementation team with their knowledge and experience.

Until recently, the project has been in the design mode, which included development of models for each business process. Participants have examined current business practices, eliminated those no longer essential, and taken advantage of best practices embedded in the NBRSS software. The result is a "map" of the future business process.

The Enterprise Human Resources and Planning project was initiated by the Department of Health and Human Services to replace its existing human resources (HR) and payroll system (called IMPACT) with a new product based on PeopleSoft's web-based HR management system for the federal government.

The new system will provide a tool for: managers to deploy their workforce strategically; HR staff to carry out their functions efficiently; and DHHS to enhance HR/payroll operations, reduce its dependence on paper and minimize duplicative systems. The PeopleSoft system will eventually handle HR actions for all of NIH's civilian employees.

Currently, the NBS teams have finished the design, review and approvals of the future processes and are forging ahead into the next phase — configuration. This is comprised of two pilot sessions where the Oracle software and NIH workflow procedures will be configured and tested.

Experts will fine-tune the system during these tests. Financial management will be the first module to go live with the new NBS system; its rollout is scheduled for September.

The EHRP team has recently installed a development version of the PeopleSoft product and plans a phased approach for implementing it across the department during the coming year.

To learn more about the NBRSS project as it unfolds, visit

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