CMU Takes a Lead Role in Sap Technology Among Universities


Frank Andera, (517) 774-3554


MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Central Michigan University is taking a national lead in preparing students to use one of the newest and most sophisticated business software products in the world: SAP.

SAP stands for Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing, and CMU is one of just five universities in the United States to have signed an alliance with the German-based company that created it, said Frank Andera, head of the business information systems department at CMU and director of the university's SAP alliance program.

That union places the university in the company of "one of the most leading-edge software companies in the world with providing enterprise resource planning, or ERP, software," he said.

"Not only is the university converting to SAP for its financial and human resource functions, but the recognition that CMU is teaching its undergraduate and graduate business students about ERP and giving them first-hand experience with the SAP software has caused a flood of inquiries from companies from all over the country," Andera said. "Many of these companies have never recruited here before."

Among other universities to have implemented SAP's financial components are Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As for corporations that utilize the software, The Dow Chemical Co., Dow Corning Corp., Microsoft, General Motors, Eastman Kodak, AT&T, Reebok International and Texas Instruments are all SAP customers.

SAP uses a group of software programs that can bring all of a business' functions into a single database.

"Before, companies literally had many different software packages and numerous databases supporting each unique function of the company," Andera said.

"Manufacturing had its own software and database, personnel had its own software and database, logistics had its own software and database, order processing and shipping had its own software and database, and the list could go on and on."

With SAP, decision makers at all levels have only one system to deal with, he said. The data is captured only once and is available to these people immediately.

"Just imagine for a moment a large corporation like Dow Chemical," Andera said. "Dow operates in 113 countries, 37 languages and 53 currencies and has 185 sales offices, 750 shipping sites, 183 manufacturing sites, and 446 reporting entities. SAP software is capable of linking all of these units together under one system and one database."

SAP America, a subsidiary of the international firm, has helped CMU develop a program that reaches across several disciplines to teach the innovative technology to a host of students.

Currently SAP R/3 technology is used in 10 business-related classes on campus, and a graduate-level course is offered through CMU's off-campus degree programs for adult learners.

Business faculty from departments such as accounting, information systems, management, marketing, logistics and human resources received extensive training last summer. Curriculum development took place during the fall semester, and the software was implemented in select courses this spring.

"Thousands of companies and institutions from around the world are using ERP software," Andera said. "And because CMU was one of the first of five universities in the United States to provide this software and training database to its students, we are in a unique and valued position for placement of our graduates into business opportunities."

CMU has not limited its instruction of SAP technology to its main campus in Mount Pleasant. Three professors teach related courses through CMU's off-campus College of Extended Learning sites in metro Detroit and Falls Church, Va. The college has integrated SAP into its master of science administration degree program.

"A unique accomplishment for CMU this semester is a World Wide Web course offered through the College of Extended Learning called SAP Enterprise Software. This course is basically an introduction to ERP concepts. One student enrolled in this web course resides in France," Andera said.

As CMU positions itself as a leader among universities that make SAP a part of the curriculum, students have taken the lead in forming the first student-driven user association in the United States, Andera added.

The SAP University Alliance Student User Group includes students from a variety of disciplines within the university's College of Business Administration.


Nikita Murray
Office of Public Relations & Marketing
(517) 774-3197

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