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Forging a digital MIT

Letter from Vice President for Finance Israel Ruiz on updates to administrative systems

To the members of the MIT community,

Reflecting on the economic challenges of the past two years, I am struck by how readily each member of the MIT community embraced the need to adapt to a new future. To me, this readiness was a testament to the uniquely innovative, collaborative and problem-solving spirit of the MIT community. It is what makes us great, and it is what will ensure that MIT remains strong and continues to pursue with resolve its mission to best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

The Institute-wide Planning Task Force was the centerpiece of efforts across campus to conceive of new ways to operate and advance the MIT mission. A significant theme emerging from the Task Force effort is the overall need for MIT to modernize its administrative systems and processes and to work toward a largely digital MIT. The emergence of this theme dovetails with efforts in the Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF), in close collaboration with the MIT community and key administrative offices, to act on an ambitious agenda of process modernization to better meet the needs of the community in an increasingly global world. Together, we are forging a digital evolution.

During the upcoming months of 2010 and into 2011, we will begin to realize the benefits of our work and of the Task Force, with the launch of new VPF processes and digital systems. I would like to share with you some of these exciting initiatives and invite you to click on the links below to learn more:


VPF is working with Human Resources (HR), Information Services and Technology (IS&T), and representatives from departments, labs, and centers (DLCs) to significantly enhance the HR/Payroll services we provide to the MIT community.

In the first of several HR/Payroll digital initiatives, all faculty, staff, and students will be able to receive electronic paystubs in place of paper paystubs beginning in late June. This new digital process means members of the MIT community will have easy access to current and past paystubs (24 months) through the Money Matters tab in SAPweb Employee Self Service. Union staff members will be able to opt in to the entirely paperless process through this system. Looking ahead, we are working to provide access to electronic W2s for 2010 tax reporting as well.

Appointment Process Redesign
The Appointment Process Redesign project will transform the way the Institute manages HR/Payroll transactions for faculty and staff, and automate the processing of nearly all of the 17,000 paper-based HR/Payroll transactions processed manually today. The new system is being offered in a pilot program and will be made available Institute-wide in the fall of 2010.


Modernization Project
After a successful pilot program with a cross-section of MIT travelers, VPF is now implementing the Travel Modernization Project in phases across the Institute. This project will dramatically improve the experience for travelers and the staff who support them in handling 30,000 business trips per year. Our new travel tools and services include the availability of an MIT travel credit card, an online booking tool for arranging trips with the opportunity to benefit from newly negotiated MIT contracts with travel providers, electronic expense reporting to replace the existing paper-based system, and a direct-deposit feature for reimbursements.

Non-Travel Reimbursement

SAPweb Request for Payment (RFP)
We are now piloting an online service to process and reimburse via direct deposit non-travel reimbursements and payments. This service will replace 50,000 paper forms currently processed each year, such as those reimbursements for small out-of-pocket expenses and honoraria. The new SAPweb Request for Payment (RFP) service will be available to the MIT-wide community in July. As of Jan. 1, 2011, VPF will transition fully to this digital process for reimbursement requests.


Evolution of the Cashier Function
The MIT Cashier function will take a major step forward on June 30, 2010, with the adoption of more efficient and more secure methods of processing cash and the closing of the Cashier's Window in NE49. Under the redesigned process, DLCs that currently accept or distribute cash will be able to process cash and checks through convenient on-campus banking locations serviced by Bank of America. VPF is working to transition the affected DLCs now to ensure we are all ready to take this step on June 30.

A Foundation for the Future

Energized by MIT's innovative spirit and fueled by the momentum from the Task Force, our work does not end with the adoption of these new tools and services. VPF is evaluating options for electronic invoicing and payables, and we will talk more with you about options for electronic goods receipt in lieu of distributing and signing paper invoices. We will also simplify and expedite the requisition-purchase order and sole-source justification processes for procuring goods and services. We are looking at opportunities to streamline our processes within Property and Budget and to continue automation within HR/Payroll. We also remain supportive of community-wide efforts to improve financial reporting and forecasting.

Providing the highest quality user experience is of the utmost importance in all VPF process redesigns, and we will continue to align our organization and refine all of our processes and systems to achieve outstanding service to the community. User advisory groups play a critical role in gathering and incorporating community feedback, and we will work continually to balance the need for simplicity and efficiency with providing meaningful choice.

As we progress through the coming year, I want to assure you that we will work closely with all those affected by these new tools and services – including students and our colleagues in Student Activities – to assure that we fully support their needs during the transition. I also want to express my appreciation to all those across the MIT community who have participated in user advisory groups and pilot programs and have supported our efforts to evolve our services. Our experience with the Task Force and VPF process modernization efforts assures me that through collaborative innovation we can realize new, more effective ways to operate and advance the MIT mission. I would very much welcome your questions and feedback. You may either email me directly or submit your thoughts through the VPF web site.

Israel Ruiz
Vice President for Finance

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