Nov. 17, 2011

Kuali software rollout stretches across campus

by Paula Van Brocklin

Kuali (pronounced ku-WAH-lee). You may have heard about it, or perhaps not. But odds are that sometime in the not-so-distant future, it will impact your work at Iowa State.

So, what is Kuali? Inside Iowa State takes a closer look at the Kuali organization with help from Maury Hope, ISU's associate chief information officer. Look for additional information and updates about Kuali on the chief information officer's website and on

What is Kuali?

Kuali is a community of universities and other organizations using a structured collaborative method to build and sustain open-source software for university administrative systems. Because Kuali software is open source, it's shared freely; there are no software license fees.

The Kuali Foundation, established in 2004, is a nonprofit organization originally comprising six universities and two commercial organizations. Today, there are more than 50 universities (including Iowa State) and 10 commercial businesses involved with Kuali's software development.

How is Iowa State involved with Kuali?

ISU became a member of the Kuali Foundation in 2008, and helped fund the Kuali Rice, Kuali Coeus and Kuali People Management for the Enterprise administrative software projects. Iowa State contributes staff resources to the projects and also pays annual dues.

Why did ISU get involved with Kuali?

Iowa State's involvement with Kuali helps support the university's strategic goals by allowing it to maintain, enhance and expand administrative systems in a cost-effective manner. By working with staff from other universities, Iowa State is able to replace aging information systems with contemporary technologies by leveraging resources from other universities. ISU decided to migrate to the Kuali systems over several years to implement new technologies that match the current budget. The implementation timeline will be longer, but Iowa State's estimated total cost of ownership will be up to 50 percent less than with commercial vendors.

How will Kuali impact most employees?

Administrative systems based on the Kuali technology will be implemented in phases over many years. As the new technology and business processes evolve, each major system will have its own implementation plan. Most employees will have difficulty distinguishing a Kuali system from an ISU-built system using the Kuali tool set. But for those who work with administrative processes everyday, Kuali will change how they accomplish tasks.

What kind of training is planned for employees who need to learn the new Kuali software?

An administrative unit sponsors each major system and that unit will conduct training sessions prior to production. Videos and websites also will be available for self-instruction and reference. Pilot groups across campus are testing some of the new systems. The first major training effort will begin this spring in preparation for the Kuali Financial Systems and Kuali Coeus (Phase 1) implementations in July 2012.

How much money has ISU invested in the Kuali project, and where do those funds come from?

ISU's investment in Kuali is mostly in staff members, who work on system requirements and develop software. At the end of FY11, there were eight full-time staff assigned to Kuali projects. Annual dues to Kuali in FY11 were $75,000. One-time consulting costs in FY11 were $250,000. Since several ISU employees from ITS and administrative units work on Kuali projects, most of the university's costs are reallocated during development and will return to support after implementation.

What are the components of Kuali that ISU will be implementing, and when will they be rolled out?

  • Kuali Rice -- is a suite of integrated software products that allows new applications to be built quickly. Some of the Kuali Rice tools that Iowa State currently uses include workflow, identity management and notification. Kuali Rice was implemented at ISU earlier this year. The most recent installation was a workflow system to handle voucher approvals electronically. Most employees will not access these tools, but they will benefit from their applications to other systems.
  • Kuali Financial Systems (KFS) -- is a modular financial accounting system. ISU has installed the general ledger, chart of accounts and financial transaction components of KFS. Testing of the financial system continues, with full implementation planned for July 2012.
  • Kuali Coeus (KC) -- manages the complexities of research administration, including pre-award, post-award and compliance. KC will be implemented in phases beginning July 2012. The following systems will be impacted by KC after its full release, planned for the end of 2014:
    • LiquidOffice and the Office of Sponsored Programs Administration (OSPA) database will be replaced with KC
    • InfoMaker will be replaced by Cognos as a reporting tool delivered through the university data warehouse (eData)
    • The Conflict of Interest (COI) module will help manage financial conflicts of interest and will replace the current system available in AccessPlus
    • The Institutional Review Board (IRB) module will help the Institutional Review Board and Office for Responsible Research manage human research subjects
    • The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) module will assist the Institutional Review Board and Office for Responsible Research manage animal research subjects
  • Kuali People Management for the Enterprise (KPME) -- is a software system designed for human resources and payroll offices in higher education. It includes tools for human resources administration, payroll, benefits, leave management, time and attendance, and others. The time and attendance module (KPME 1.0) was released in September. Future releases (see below) will be rolled out in phases over the next few years. The first implementation phase will begin in late 2012 with time, attendance and leave management.
    • Phase 2: Electronic core human resources transactions, including personnel and position management transactions, employee activities and demographic data
    • Phase 3: Payroll and financial processing, and benefits administration