In the Trenches: A Staffer Struggles with ADAPT

As a lab administrator in the chemistry department, Linda E. Ross uses the new financial systems implemented under Project ADAPT often.

But though the system was expected to make her life easier, Ross says that most tasks take her longer than before.

"We're in a whole new world, and there's no map," Ross says.

Just getting started in the web of new systems can be a challenge. The new software puts more than eight different tools on her computer desktop. She must memorize almost as many "passwords" to use the system's various programs.

And to do simple billing procedures, she frequently must use a complicated combination of applications.

"As a lab administrator, I need to know several of the ADAPT programs," she says. "We use up to four distinctly different computer applications for purchasing and reimbursement instead of one or two."

For example, say Ross has to reimburse a foreign post-doctoral fellow who buys a book for the lab.

"Before, we would make out one pink form with stapled receipts and send it to the business office," she says, estimating that the whole process took under five minutes.

Now, Ross needs at least 30 minutes to complete the same task. First she must register the student as a "foreign national vendor" by downloading a Foreign National Information Form from the Project ADAPT website, completing it and faxing it to the central administration's accounts payable department.

"A visiting scholar from England or Germany is treated like a foreign

company," Ross explains.

The next day, the student is officially entered into the system as a vendor. Ross then uses a different application called "Web Voucher" to enter the payment as if she were paying a vendor.

Meanwhile, Ross fills out a paper-based Non-Employee Reimbursement Form---known universally as a NERF and replacing a similar form once know as SNERF by hand.

On this form she must write down a requisition number generated by the Web Voucher program.

Ross then prints out the electronic form, attaches it to the receipts and NERF form. She tracks down the hypothetical foreign-student-book-buyer, who must sign the NERF form, makes a photocopy of the whole packet, and brings it to the chemistry department's business office for approval.