Ohio splits its approach to ERP

When Ohio officials began looking for an enterprise resource planning system six years ago, they had a pretty good idea of what they wanted.

They wanted to replace the state's motley array of decaying, fragmented administrative systems with a sleek statewide system that would integrate business processes for accounting, purchasing and procurement, human resources, payroll, and capital improvements.

But none of the ERP packages that they looked at could handle the capital improvement piece ' things such as field collaboration, drawings, electronic bidding capability and everything else involved in a construction project, said Fred Holcomb, fiscal officer of Ohio's Office of the State Architect. 'The construction industry is very specialized.'

So state officials pulled out that section of the request for proposals and competed it separately.

Then last month, Ohio announced an enterprise agreement valued at $3.5 million with Skire. Ohio will make Skire's Unifier software available to all state agencies, colleges and universities. Unifier will integrate with the state's PeopleSoft ERP system, the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System. Implemented in phases, OAKS is replacing the state's old administrative systems.

Unifier automates forms, paperwork, bidding documents, change orders, cost tracking, schedules and other information pertaining to construction projects. Users will include architects and construction managers.

The Web browser-based software will provide 'one software solution on all state-administered construction projects,' said Sateez Kadivar, vice president of business operations at Skire. 'Before, people kept a lot of this information in e-mails, and it was outdated.'

The Unifier software will reside on the state's servers. It lets users make changes on the fly, in a drag-and-drop environment, Kadivar said. 'They can control their own destiny.'

Unifier will be able to handle change orders, drawings and cradle-to-grave construction management, Holcomb said.

The pact with Skire extends to all of Ohio's state colleges and universities, including Ohio State University, which is the country's largest single campus, with a fall 2006 enrollment of 51,818 students.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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