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MU to continue Accenture contract

By Jenn Smola
On April 24, 2012

Though Miami University's plan to restructure Information Technology (IT) Services through a partnership with the consulting firm Accenture has saved only half the original $3.7 million savings estimate, the university still plans to carry out its agreement with the firm and continue restructuring.

According to David Creamer, vice president for finance and business services, the decision to keep Academic Institutional Technology Services (AITS) separate from Central IT and Administrative IT will decrease the number of dollars the university originally planned on saving with the help of Accenture.

"There was some reduction in savings in the IT piece for not proceeding with the academic change," Creamer said.

Creamer said the university originally expected to save a total of $3.2 million on the low end and $3.7 million on the high end with the agreement, but that number has since shrunk.

"There's still about $1.8 million in cost reductions that [Accenture] expect[s] to achieve for the Oxford campus," Creamer said.

Accenture cost $3 million to bring in.

This is not the first contract Miami has had with Accenture. According to Rebecca Luzadis, chair of University Senate's Fiscal Priorities and Budget Planning Committee, Miami had a contract with Accenture to work with its purchasing department to prioritize strategic sourcing.

With that contract, Miami was able to opt out of the contract early and save money, Creamer and Luzadis said.

Creamer said the university had received all the benefits and support necessary to carry on without Accenture. According to Creamer, by making this decision, Miami was able to spend only $595,000 on the project as opposed to the $1.465 million it would have cost in total.

According to Luzadis, Miami employees had already learned so much from Accenture the university felt it could continue without the firm's assistance.

"That was cost-saving for us that was really fortunate," Luzadis said.

While the same type of opt-out opportunity exists in Miami's contract with Accenture to restructure IT, Creamer said the university is not considering changing any plans with Accenture despite the recent decrease in estimated savings.

"There is no consideration of any significant changes in the IT contract," Creamer said.

First-year Liz Burby said while the intrinsic value of the agreement is still present, Miami could have handled the situation differently and cut costs in a different way.

"I feel like they could have figured this out in a much better way," Burby said.

While the university will not save the original $3.2 million estimated with the IT restructuring, Miami officials still think the changes and savings will be worth it.

Cathy McVey, senior director of strategic communication, said with the decision to leave AITS out of the restructuring process, the focus of the project has shifted, but the changes will still be valuable in the long run.

"I think we're making very thoughtful choices," McVey said. "We've kind of refocused what we're looking at."

According to Luzadis, bringing in a firm like Accenture does not mean every suggestion is carried out.

"We know that sometimes we won't choose to implement their recommendations," Luzadis said.

While Miami will not save the $3.2 million they hoped for, McVey said the savings would still be worth it.

"We're not going to reach the high end savings we originally had hoped for, but we will save," McVey said.

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