On Jan. 2, Kyalowa Monga, a biomedical repair
technician, and his colleagues in Bayview Medical Center's
Clinical Engineering Department wanted to order replacement
light bulbs for a portable X-ray machine, but Monga kept
running into roadblocks. He was trying to navigate the
shopping cart feature in the new SAP software being used by
the largest technological business systems project in Johns
At one point, Monga had six puzzled people gathered
around him, trying to figure it all out. As it turned out,
he hadn't walked through his first-time setup process, so
without the right settings, he wasn't getting the
information he needed to complete the process. By noon, he
had completed setup, selected his vendor and ordered the
right light bulbs.
They were delivered the next day.
That experience was typical for the several thousand
users who have begun using the system, which had a "mini"
go-live on Dec. 26 for some university employees and a Jan.
1 go-live for all Johns Hopkins employees who will access
the new system to make purchases, run financial reports,
file expense reports and track human resources activity,
among other business-related functions.
"There's a steep learning curve any time that you
learn a new system," said Ron Werthman, vice president for
finance, treasurer and chief financial officer of the
health system and hospital. "We've had some issues, but
they're mostly user settings or workflow issues. The
functionality works as expected. Considering the size and
scope of this project, I think it's going reasonably
Ultimately, some 11,000 Johns Hopkins staff will use
the new integrated SAP software.
Many employees worked long hours to prepare for the
HopkinsOne launch and transition to a new system. For
example, Mike Mohn, director of the health system's
Material Distribution Center, began work at 6 a.m. on Jan.
1 and didn't stop until 25 hours later. After catching a
few hours of sleep, he was back on the job.
HopkinsOne staff logged similar hours to get ready for
the big launch and were ready early Tuesday morning to
handle the inevitable questions, concerns and issues.
There were a few.
People didn't know how to print from SAP. Some didn't
understand how to do first-day settings or how to log on to
the system. Others mistakenly used the "back" button on
their Internet browser instead of the controls within the
system itself. Some travel expense reports were being
mistakenly routed, and users were being timed out of the
travel transaction. For a time, shopping cart users got an
error message when they tried to log on.
As the issues came in, HopkinsOne project staff and
so-called SWAT Team support members in the field worked to
"Being part of SWAT has been a fun collaboration,"
said Tina Cole, a training specialist with the university's
Financial Information Technology Training Office and
someone who lived through the CUFS financial system
implementation about 10 years ago. "Everybody is so
energized. Everybody is stepping up to the plate." Asked to
compare this implementation with CUFS, Cole said, "This one
is way bigger. It is chaotic, but it's organized chaos."
To help users, the HopkinsOne project established a
command center on the Mount Washington campus and recruited
nearly 400 Johns Hopkins employees and HopkinsOne project
staff to fan out across the institutions to provide
hands-on help to supplement the command center support.
"We're processing payroll and ISRs [internal service
requests] and using the shopping cart. So far, so good,"
Werthman said, adding that "from its inception to its
actualization, we've been working on this project for four
years now, and it's been a real team effort. I'd like to
thank everyone for their time, energy and overall support
of the whole process, but we still have work to do."
Werthman pointed out that initially some aspects of
the new system may seem more complex or cumbersome, "but
the beauty of it is that it's an integrated system, so once
you put in the information, it populates all fields. It
does not require redundant data entry. It just takes time
James McGill, the university's senior vice president
for finance and administration, said the HopkinsOne project
team and the end-user community ought to be congratulated
for working so hard and so well to bring this
implementation together. "The rollout of any new system,
much less one of this magnitude, has glitches that have to
be fixed," McGill said. "The users have been excellent in
drawing them to the attention of those people who are
getting them fixed."
As HopkinsOne Executive Director Steve Golding put it
in a message to staff, "Keep up the good work, hang in
there and know that you are part of a truly unprecedented
achievement at Johns Hopkins that will have huge benefits
for many years to come."