The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 17th

UNC pairs with N.C. State on technology

Collaboration could greatly cut costs

Larry Conrad is once again knocking down technological barriers between rival universities.

Conrad, the vice chancellor for information technology, is reviving an old partnership with Marc Hoit, vice chancellor for information technology at N.C. State University, on a collaboration between the two schools’ new information technology programs.

The collaboration will share support staff and business practices, could save hundreds of thousands of dollars and might allow UNC to benefit from N.C. State’s experience with new software.

The shared software will manage significant aspects of life at the two schools, including financial reporting and human resources.

Conrad and Hoit have experience with intercollegiate partnerships as vice chancellors for information technology at Florida State University and the University of Florida, respectively, where they worked together on a similar collaboration that also used PeopleSoft, the new technology being implemented at UNC.

“These are very complex systems; they’re very complex to implement,” Conrad said.

But he’s not worried about working with Hoit.

“Frankly, we trust each other,” Conrad added.

The two universities are collaborating on the financial and human resource portions of their programs while keeping the student services components separate.

The partnership comes at a convenient time for both schools. UNC is just beginning to implement the PeopleSoft software as ConnectCarolina, a new integrated administrative system.

N.C. State has been using PeopleSoft for almost 12 years, and is updating to the newest version of the software.

Conrad said both sides will benefit from the collaboration by contributing what each side is most prepared to give.

“They’re going to invest more people, we’re going to invest more money,” Conrad said.

Conrad said UNC has been saving money to implement PeopleSoft since 2007, while N.C. State already has a staff in place managing its PeopleSoft software.

UNC will save money by not having to hire extra technical support, which instead will be shared with N.C. State.

Conrad added that savings will likely amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars but could reach as high as $1 million.

Hoit said the collaboration allows the universities to work together to resolve issues that might come up with the new technology, but the number of colleges within the universities will create difficulties as well.

UNC has 17 different schools and colleges. N.C. State has 12.

“It does make it harder because we now have to build a system that works for all of them together,” Hoit said.

Neither Conrad nor Hoit said they could think of any disadvantages of sharing practices and technical support. The project continues a tradition of collaborations between the universities’ financial systems that first occurred in the 1970s.

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