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New Financial Management System Launched

Northwestern's new financial management system was launched Dec. 8.

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December 9, 2008
Northwestern University's new financial management system was launched Dec. 8. The initiative, dubbed Project Café (an acronym for Comprehensive Access to the Financials for the Enterprise), has been in the works since 2004.

Project Café is replacing CUFS with an integrated, web-based financial management solution to help streamline business processes at Northwestern. While CUFS has served the University for nearly a quarter century, the data integration, grants management, and business processes now required in higher education have necessitated the move to a more modern system.

The new system will leverage the technology of The NUPortal (https://nuportal.northwestern.edu) to deliver access to PeopleSoft Financials (NUFinancials), Cognos Reporting, FAMIS facilities management system, InfoEd research administration, and iBuyNU, Northwestern's online marketplace of preferred vendors. These applications introduce electronic transaction processing, on-demand reporting, online service requests, and a web-based shopping experience.

Some key differences in the new system are:
• CUFS account numbers will be replaced by "chart strings"
• many more business functions will be done electronically
• transaction approvals will route differently
• report formats will be different
• some policies and procedures will change

Administrative staff have been preparing for these changes by attending training and transition workshops since January. Along with hands-on training, Project Café offers auditorium demo sessions and online copies of its training materials for users to download at their convenience. There is also a dedicated, three-tiered Help Desk structure available to assist users with Café-related questions at 1-HELP, option 2.

Community input and participation have been a hallmark of the project from its inception. The project team has worked closely with key individuals from central administration and deans' offices, along with "Local Readiness Team Leads" from the schools and units, to help gather feedback from the community about system design and to help disseminate information to affected areas. In so doing, the team intends to create a robust, user-friendly system that will meet the University's needs well into the future.

For more information about Project Café, visit their web site at http://cafe.northwestern.edu
Topics: University