The University of Missouri-Rolla has been selected to host one of five SAP University Competency Centers in the nation. As a competency center, UMR is an applications service provider for SAP to 15 other universities.
Germany-based SAP is the largest Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) company in the world. SAP’s clients are mainly big corporations that have complex accounting and supply chain needs.
The trend in big business is toward re-engineering organizations by installing ERP software and training employees to use it. Companies are spending millions of dollars in order to install the software, which helps employees follow products through supply chains, improve inventory practices, streamline accounting functions, and generally increase efficiency and cooperation at all levels of a business.
“The amount of money associated with these installations is fantastic,” says Dr. Ray Kluczny, professor and chair of business administration at UMR. “With what we have, we could be operating a Fortune 500 company.”
SAP is funding the competency center at UMR, where 14 servers have been dedicated to run the donated software.
“You can’t just go down to Best Buy and get this technology and install it,” says Brian Buege, director of networks and computing systems at UMR. “But if you go to work in the information technology field, you have to know this stuff. With this partnership, students will already be trained when they go out in the work force.”
SAP and another ERP company, PeopleSoft, offer similar software.
“PeopleSoft began more as a human resources system, while SAP began more as a comprehensive manufacturing system,” Kluczny says. “Today, SAP dominates the market for ERP systems. But Oracle has purchased PeopleSoft and is looking to be more competitive.”
Though knowledge of these systems is useful in many disciplines, the partnership between SAP and UMR is expected to make ERP training an integral part of the curriculum in UMR’s School of Management and Information Systems.
“We are now able to offer an undergraduate emphasis area and a graduate certificate in Enterprise Resource Planning,” Kluczny says.
The SAP Competency Center at UMR will manage the software and provide remote access to other universities, including the University of Missouri-Columbia, Kansas State University, Western Michigan University, Southeast Missouri State University, Northern Michigan University, University of Delaware, Stetson University, Alfred University, Northern Arizona University, Charleston South University, Alabama State University, Arizona State University, Temple University and Wichita State University.
Dr. Sundar Srinivasan will be the new director of UMR’s competency center, which is being managed jointly by the School of Management and Information Systems and UMR’s information technology department. The center was previously located in Columbia, Mo., where it was operated by the University of Missouri System. Srinivasan will work with existing faculty and staff at UMR to expose as many students as possible to SAP.
“The center provides faculty and students at UMR and elsewhere with access to state-of-the-art enterprise applications,” Srinivasan says. “This will enhance teaching and research in business, computing and engineering disciplines.”