Letters – 29 July

Academic shift to ERP

The article on Newcastle University (15 July) prompts a response on broader issues associated with the introduction of enterprise resource planning systems into universities.

Universities are making a shift from a culture based on public administration to one of business management. There are numerous drivers for this change. A diversifying funding base with more income coming from non-government sources; demands for greater transparency and accountability for teaching and research; more diverse clients for teaching in price-sensitive markets and the increasing global competition for contracts.

Universities are responding to these challenges by reorganising their processes of financial, people and student management. Introducing an ERP system is one way these changes can be engineered. This move paralleled a decision to devolve many financial and people management processes to 80 ‘front line’ departments.

SAP will give us greater transparency in the use of funds; better monitoring of research and consultancy contracts; improved pricing and costing techniques; a unified procurement base giving better negotiating power. Our partnership with SAP is far from over.

Together, we are developing IQ Campus, a student management software package, to meet demand from universities.

Professor John Goddard OBE, pro vice-chancellor, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Millennium ‘nonsense’ over PI cover For the last few years the renewal of our PI policy has involved an in-depth analysis of the internal and external risks resulting from the millennium time-bomb. The more cautious will have applauded the insurance companies in their bringing this to our constant attention, although the more pragmatic may say that a lot of time has been wasted, explaining that as a small firm with non-networked systems we should be more concerned with the effect on eastern European missile silo alarm clocks.

Some years on and countless active reviews later we are now informed that our insurers, along with most, simply want to exclude all millennium issues from cover.

Our millennium compliant company secretarial package has yet to be delivered. We are therefore uninsurable for millennium compliance across the board.

That is the little package we have on a stand-alone PC which saves us from writing out forms 288 and 363. The failure of this on 01.01.00 can be likened to the teasmade breaking down – we’d simply switch the kettle on. It seems that the insurers have discussed this with the Institute and all this millennium nonsense of the last five years has been a waste of time as it is now acceptable for us to be uninsured for a risk that they have both educated us to fear.

Are we to be grateful for cover to 30 June 1999 which I am willing to bet was factored into the premium calculations or should we feel that the 1999/2000 policy was the one we really needed.

Mark Jacobs, London W1

A forum for ACCA debate May I respond to AJ Kanczula’s letter (22 July)? The letters to which Mr Kanczula refers were acknowledged by you to be bogus. No one, so far as I am aware, has taken responsibility for the views expressed and you referred to them as an ‘abuse’ of your letters page.

It seems to me illogical, disingenuous and irresponsible to suggest that these letters can reasonably be regarded as representative of the views of genuine ACCA members.

I am naturally concerned at the suggestion that there may be Accounting & Business readers who are reluctant to write to the journal for publication.

I can only encourage readers to write to me and hope they will do so.

John Rogers Prosser, editor, Accounting & Business

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