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CAPSA and its implementation: Notice

25 September 2000

At their meeting on 25 September 2000, the Council, recognizing the widespread concern in the University, received a report on CAPSA and its implementation from the Chairman of the Project Steering Committee. In his report, Professor Longair outlined the need for and history of the project, leading to its approval in 1998 and revision in 1999, and informed the Council of the current performance and functional problems following 'go live' on 1 August 2000.

The Council know that there have been, and continue to be, significant difficulties in the implementation of CAPSA. They are however clear that the University's previous financial systems had to be replaced as a matter of urgency to meet the requirements of external regulatory bodies and of the University's auditors and internal management needs. A modern integrated financial accounting system such as CAPSA is essential in the University. Whilst significant improvements have been achieved since 1 August 2000, there are still substantial operational difficulties as a result of poor performance and of functional difficulties with the software. The project team, which consists of representatives of the Finance and Management Information Services Divisions and of academic institutions, is working with KPMG, who have provided project management and other support, and with the software suppliers, ORACLE, to resolve the problems. The Project Steering Committee is meeting frequently to review progress. ORACLE have themselves committed 24 hour, seven day a week support at no cost to the University.

The Council understands that the implementation of a modern, integrated, industry standard commitment accounting system requires a very different approach to financial management and accountancy from that previously adopted by the University over many years, particularly in the areas of authorization and funds checking. Inevitably the detailed procedures and, indeed, some of the necessary skills are new to those working in the CAPSA environment but the adoption of these procedures is essential if the University is to achieve its aim of fostering best practice in its financial affairs. Further and enhanced training courses will be provided at a range of levels to help all those who need to use the system. For the moment however, the main effort is being put into addressing underlying performance problems and ensuring that the remaining major functional problems are resolved as soon as possible.

In accordance with agreed University practice for the procurement of major capital items, the Audit Committee will, in due course, review the CAPSA project. For the time being, the Council emphasize that the priority must be to complete the implementation to the required standards of performance and functionality. They recognize, and are grateful for, the enormous efforts, which are being made by staff in all institutions, and in the CAPSA project team, to remedy the present deficiencies.

At their meeting, the Council were advised that a request had been received, signed by eleven members of the Regent House, for a Discussion on a topic of concern, namely CAPSA and its implementation (see the Registrary's Notice on p. 2). The topic has been scheduled for Discussion on Tuesday, 10 October 2000, when the Council have asked Professor Longair to give an abbreviated version of his report to the Council by way of background to other remarks.

The Council fully understand the difficulties that have been caused to all institutions in the University. The distress caused to many dedicated staff is of great concern to the Council and to those implementing the project. It is likely that the present financial year will be much more difficult in these terms than usual. The Council have asked the Steering Committee to ensure that institutions are kept fully informed and up to date about further developments. The Council reiterate their gratitude to all staff for their efforts to complete the implementation successfully.

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Cambridge University Reporter, 4 October 2000
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.