SLAC Today logo

From the Director of Operations: an IT Migration Project

Imagine a SLAC with electronic timecards, or that one click at your desktop could display your annual budget and expenses to date. With one more click, you could see who has been charging your account. If you are doing work at both Stanford's main campus and SLAC, one common information environment would support all of your business needs. Well, enjoy that image, because plans are underway to make this your reality.

Here are some elements of the challenge. The heart of Human Resources and financial information is the institutional enterprise system. Here at SLAC, our current enterprise systems are outdated, sitting on unreliable hardware platforms with questionable longevity. Many business processes are not fully implemented on these central systems, but rather on systems owned by the individual directorates.

The first step in the path forward is to acquire and install a reliable IT platform. The next step is to implement modern HR and financial enterprise systems that embed SLAC business practices, including Department of Energy requirements. Lab management is continuing to assess the best way to do that. We have looked at fixing what we have, starting over, outsourcing and partnering with Stanford University. This latter option is looking like the best value path forward for SLAC. We forecast an economy of scale that benefits SLAC from this partnership. For HR in particular, this looks obvious, as all SLAC employees are also Stanford employees and are generally-speaking under the same set of HR policies.

We will need to identify and compare how HR and financial business practices are conducted at SLAC versus Stanford. Adopting Stanford business practices will be the default, and exceptions will be made only for DOE requirements or when there is a clear cost/benefit advantage for SLAC to have different processes. We will do this first for HR because it is a much simpler problem, and later for financials. Best guess timeframe: a few months to get the hardware done, and two years to be on new HR and financial enterprise systems.

So the process is moving forward. Stanford has the expertise and is willing to lead the analysis and the project, under Stanford Manager of IT Administrative Systems Ganesh Karkala. As part of the integrated project team, SLAC's technical leader will be Garima Srivastava. The team will include key roles by Scientific Computing and Computing Services, HR, the Business Services Division and a SLAC-wide users group being led by Cindy Lowe.

A lot will be happening. We ask for your patience, as these steps forward will take a while to accomplish and some aspects of our current environment may break while we are trying to fix the whole. We will alert you through SLAC Today of the user group membership and other major milestones as we know them. This kind of project is hard, so we ask for your support everywhere that you can provide it. Thank you.

—Alexander Merola
SLAC Today, March 19, 2009