MIT selected the SAP financial software partly because SAP is an
integrated system. This means that once information is entered, it is
available throughout the system-thus facilitating faster and smoother
processing of transactions and information.
For example, if a department needs to buy a large ventilation fan
for a building, the purchase is researched, as it is now, and the most
appropriate vendor is selected. With SAP, the next step is to enter the
purchase order, which automatically commits the necessary funds. At this
point, all of the offices that need to know about this purchase will
have the information.
It will no longer be necessary to produce and transmit paper
copies of the purchase order and invoice for use by various
administrative departments, or to have them enter the information into
their own computer systems. Once the fan is received, the department
notes that fact in SAP, and Accounts Payable pays the invoice without
further approvals or paperwork. The Central Accounting Office can do the
calculation for overhead charges. The Property Office receives word
through the system that the fan has arrived and can tag it and begin
tracking for depreciation. And in Physical Plant, a preventive
maintenance schedule for the fan can be set up so that the history of
this piece of equipment can be easily tracked.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 11, 1996.