NIWA to take timekeeping on to web

Crown research institute NIWA is deploying Oracle web-based applications to streamline its administration processes.

Crown research institute NIWA is deploying Oracle web-based applications to streamline its administration processes.

NIWA Auckland-based MIS manager Stu Keast says the organisation last week flicked the switch on an Oracle 11i upgrade and over the next two months it will roll out web-based applications for time keeping and expense administration.

“The goal is to eliminate processes that don’t add value to the business,” Keast says. NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) is a $77 million body, which last year made a net profit for the government of $4.7 million.

The new applications — i-Time and i-Expenses — will enable NIWA’s more than 400 scientists to enter timesheets directly into the organisation’s Oracle financials system, and let them record expenses details electronically.

I-Time will free up the equivalent of up to six full-time administrative staff, who will be reassigned to research support jobs. I-Expenses, which relies on electronic purchase card statements sent monthly by National Bank, will cut NIWA’s expense reconciliation process from two weeks of passing paper between administration and research staff to one day, Keast says.

“The system notifies card holders by email that a statement has arrived and they can go to their web page and enter the appropriate details line by line on the statement.” The rules-based system then forwards the statement to the person with the necessary authority for signing off.

A key feature of NIWA’s Oracle implementation is its use of the suite’s project management functionality, Keast says. In the expenses example, once the card holder has recorded the particular project which an expense relates to, that amount is automatically consolidated in the financial reporting for that project.

“Our implementation is pretty rare in terms of using the project suite for billing,” Keast says.

NIWA has been an Oracle user since 1994. The upgrade to 11i and deployment of new applications is a project costing six figures.

“We expect an 18-month payback on the licence fee and development costs,” Keast says.

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