Indiana University

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Last modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013

IU saves nearly $20 million with open source financial system

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April 18, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University has saved nearly $20 million by joining with other universities to reduce administrative costs for essential financial software systems.

The Kuali Financial System is open source software that was created to fit the needs of colleges and universities. By definition, open source software is free to use, distribute and modify, meaning IU avoids the costs of licensing expensive commercial systems that often cost tens of millions of dollars to buy and install. IU fully implemented and transitioned to the Kuali System in February.

"These major savings are a result of Indiana University identifying and pursuing opportunities, designed specifically for the precise needs of higher education, that have enabled us to manage our administrative functions more effectively, efficiently and at a lower cost," IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. "In successfully implementing the Kuali Financial System and transitioning away from more expensive, less dependable third-party financial management, we've also freed up more university resources for our core missions of teaching, learning and research."

The Kuali Financial System gives IU faculty and administration one common place to monitor and approve purchases, research grants, human resources transactions, compliance and other administrative tasks that used to require reams of paper. Thanks to Kuali Financial System, IU will route, approve and act on more than 3 million electronic documents this year.

IU has long championed the use of open source software as a means for greater efficiency in higher education. In 2005, IU invested with other universities and a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in a seed project aimed at developing community-based, business-oriented software tools to meet the unique needs of higher education institutions. That seed investment grew into the Kuali Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the development of open source administrative software for the higher education community. The Kuali Foundation now has 70 university and corporate members in support of eight software systems.

"The Kuali Financial System is just another example of IU's continued mission to be on the leading edge of using technology to streamline functional operations," said MaryFrances McCourt, interim vice president and chief financial officer at IU. "In addition, Kuali open source allowed us to benefit from best-in-class processing and ideas across the higher education industry."

Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and chief information officer is a strong supporter of open source software and efficient university collaborations. He co-founded Kuali and serves as chair of the foundation board.

"As a Kelley School of Business professor, I saw the great economic opportunity to reduce some of the large costs of essential software systems," Wheeler said. "IU has been at the forefront of taking advantage of these systems that cost less to install because they are of, by and for the needs of higher education."

Fifteen colleges and universities are expected to be migrated to the Kuali Financial System by the end of 2013. These include Cornell University, Michigan State University, University of Hawaii, University of Arizona and University of California, Irvine. IU has used parts of Kuali Financial System for four years and successfully transitioned completely to the new system in February. Kuali Financial System replaces IU's Financial Information System and Electronic Procurement and Invoicing Center, both in place since the 1990s.

In addition to Kuali Financial System, IU is currently using or developing the same Kuali approach for its research administration, mobile, library and other systems. IU has been the recipient of over $8.5 million in Mellon Foundation grants for these initiatives.

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