New software causes financial chaos at FSE
There is no clear overview and people will not always be able to make retroactive manual adjustments.
The problems are partially caused by the fact that the new software is using new project codes. There are no clear instructions on the new codes, and people at the faculty aren’t clear on how to use them.
AFAS is either not answering questions on the issue or not answering them satisfactorily. This has led to employees looking for solutions themselves. But reliable sources have told UKrant that there are very few people who actually understand the system, which means they are sharing makeshift solutions.
In principle, the change of the project codes is a simple one. Before the new software, each project came with its own project code. Both projects from the primary flow of funding (money that comes from the university), and from the second and third flows (project money that for example comes from NWO or the EU) each had their own code. These codes functioned as it were account numbers containing the project funds.
In the new system, only money from the first flow of funding has a single code. Everything that’s considered a project now has two: a cost centre and a project code. The cost centre indicates which flow of funding the money comes from, and the project code denotes the specific account.
Anyone who makes an order has to list both the cost centre (usually the second or third flow of funding) as the project code. This is the only way the funds needed for an order can be reimbursed from the correct project.
Inaccessible money flows
The past few weeks it has turned that out the second and third flows of funding (which most of FSE depends on) weren’t accessible within the system. The first money flow, on the other hand, was. As a result, when people ordered something they needed for their project, they referred not to their own account, but to the primary flow.
They also needed just a single code to finish up their orders. Very few people actually use the correct project code, instead using the cost centre. This means that it will be difficult to figure out to which projects the more common orders, which many research groups make, belong.
Because people can still complete their orders, it looks like the system is working as it should. But the real problems occur in the admin department. Business coordinators, the people who manage project finances, now have no financial overview of the projects.
A tool to help with this is still under construction, but the information that the coordinators would normally use is now unavailable. That means they can’t tell professors or project members – who normally go to them with financial questions – what’s going on with the finances of their group.
On top of this, the orders were not input correctly from an administrative point of view, and a manual check is needed to figure everything out. Due to the confusion involving the codes, it remains to be seen how many of the orders recorded will be linked to their corresponding budgets.
This means that project groups at the faculty are in danger of not being able to invoice enough, if any, subsidy funds from their subsidisers, when the faculty is basically run on that money. The risk is that subsidisers can think project groups initially requested more money than they actually needed. In the worst case scenario, this could lead to subsequent subsidies being lower or even being retracted.