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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

'What Does Project ENABLE Mean to Me?'

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 13 - November 17, 1994

(Note: This is the second of a series of articles designed to inform the university community about a major initiative that is an integral part of Virginia Tech's restructuring commitment and is currently under way within the university. Subsequent articles will focus on different aspects of Project ENABLE and provide progress reports as the project is implemented.)

The first article in this series described Project ENABLE's primary objective--to provide a multi-faceted response designed to address pressures being placed on higher education to improve productivity and increase accountability.

Project ENABLE focuses on Virginia Tech's administrative information systems as well as its paper-based processes. The goals of the project include enhancing the quality of services provided to the university community, increasing efficiency and productivity of the university's resources, and improving the collective work environment.

More specifically, the Project ENABLE initiative involves two aggressive undertakings. The first undertaking is a fast-tracked replacement of the university's major administrative computing systems with state-of-the-art, distributed computing systems. The second undertaking, concurrent and complementary to the first, is the redesign of the fundamental business processes underlying the administrative functions targeted for replacement computing systems.

Project ENABLE will touch everyone in the Virginia Tech community. As with any new experience, it is natural for people to be concerned and anxious about what is going to happen. Indeed, it is entirely appropriate for all of us to want an answer to the question "What does Project ENABLE mean to me?" So, what are the expectations for Project Enable?

Expectations that have been articulated for Project ENABLE are ambitious. Implementation of new administrative computing systems and redesigned business processes is expected to dramatically improve the quality of Virginia Tech's administrative services and minimize costs of these services. Several examples of anticipated improvements include:

* enabling students to register and pay bills more quickly and conveniently,

* allowing departments to enter directly many personnel, payroll, purchasing, accounting, and student-information transactions, and,

* dramatically increasing computing capabilities at the desktop--information users will be able to more easily interface their personal computing work tools (e.g., spreadsheets, accounting systems, report-writers, etc.) to university databases.

What do these expectations really mean to each of us individually? How will they affect us personally? For one thing, we will all experience change--lots of it. As all of us participate in restructuring Virginia Tech, we will see dramatic changes in the way we work, in the tools we use, and in the way we provide and access services.

Technological advances and process redesign will make it possible to replace convoluted, time-consuming, frustrating processes with streamlined, efficient, effective systems.

The degree of success in restructuring Virginia Tech will be a function of the level of cooperation and support of every member of the Virginia Tech community. Consequently, the need for all of us to be involved will be intense during the course of Project Enable. Whether it be direct involvement as a cooperative member of a Project ENABLE team, or indirect involvement by providing moral support and demonstrating patience, involvement will be an ongoing facet of the Project ENABLE endeavor.

Undoubtedly, all of this change, support, cooperation, patience, and involvement will be demanding. It will probably even be frustrating at times. Change--adjusting to new ways--is always difficult and challenging.

However, the final thing we should all anticipate from Project ENABLE is that streamlined processes and state-of-the-art computing technology will create an environment characterized by dramatic improvement. Not only will the quality and quantity of services provided to the university community be enhanced, the quality of the work environment itself will be improved.

There should be relief to the overpowering workloads that have been common during the past several years. Work processes will be integrated and coordinated, which should result in closer, more cooperative and positive interpersonal working relationships for all of us. And, because of the ability to provide high-quality, efficient service, there will be the opportunity for each of us to enjoy the satisfaction of "doing the best job possible." After all, that is what Project ENABLE is all about: enabling Virginia Tech--and all of its people--to be its best!

(The next installment in this series of articles will summarize the distributed computing (client-server) environment and ideas behind business process redesign that will be used in Project ENABLE.)

Additional information and news about Project ENABLE are currently available electronically by accessing, through MOSAIC, the Virginia Tech Home Page. To do so, under the file menu, open URL (http://www.vt.edu). The VT Home Page will come up. Select "University Initiatives," then select "Project ENABLE: the Administrative Systems Initiative." This will bring you to the Project Enable Home Page.