Information Systems Students Help Go-Getters and Lower Shore Clinic
SALISBURY, MD---When the accounting system at Go-Getters, Inc. and Lower Shore Clinic, Inc. crashed last summer, the organizations’ leaders knew they had a problem — one they needed to fix quickly to best continue serving their 2,300 clients with disabilities and medical issues.
It turned out to be an issue that local vendors, who didn’t have experience with the particular software systems, were unable to solve. Faced with implementing a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system — covering much more than accounting — by the end of the year, a Go-Getters board member, Dr. Kathie Wright, had a suggestion: Try Salisbury University.
Wright, an associate professor in the Information and Decision Sciences Department in SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, knew students in her program would be up to the challenge. For eight student “consultants,” the task turned into a senior capstone project, overseen by Laura Anderson with assistance from Dr. Karen Papke-Shields, both department colleagues.
From August to December, the eight information systems majors were involved in every phase of the project, from “discovery” (learning exactly what the client wanted the system to do) to implementation. They included Nicole Bashoor of Bowie, MD; Adam Crouse of Seaford, DE; Melissa Fell of Smithsburg, MD; Doris Handy of Pocomoke City, MD; Kallie Jahn of St. Ingoes, MD; Kevin McBain of Perry Hall, MD; Aarron Moore of Fenwick Island, DE; and Robert Preller of Onley, MD.
This is not the first time Go-Getters and the Lower Shore Clinic have worked with SU students. The organizations have pre-existing relationships with the University’s Nursing and Social Work departments. They also have worked with Dr. Stephen Adams’ M.B.A. class to successfully revamp their website, and have had other business students as interns in their finance department.
“We thought it would be a good match for their skills,” said Go-Getters and Lower Shore Clinic Chief Financial Officer Joyce Schuldt.
Using the training they learned in the classroom, including preparation for a national SAP ERP certification exam, the students tackled different aspects of the new system. Once complete, it will allow real-time reporting, electronic access to medical records, and tracking and management of the 41 properties served by the organizations. It also will have employee management functions, including keeping track of payroll and benefits.
Most importantly, “Multiple people can use it at the same time without its crashing,” said Chief Executive Officer Dimitrios Cavathas.
“It’s been a really great process,” said Schuldt. “I’ve been impressed with the faculty and students we’ve worked with.”
The students’ sentiments were similar. Most said the project reaffirmed much of what they learned in the classroom … with a few curves thrown in for good measure.
“I wouldn’t say it was harder [than classwork], but it was different,” said Fell. “We had to adapt to their systems.”
That required good communication skills, she added — something many of the students said they learned during the four-month assignment. For many, it was their first time performing a “real-world” job in their chosen fields.
Data collection was another big part of the project, as students gathered, input and, in some cases, corrected pre-existing data about everything from patient records to employee information to square footages of the organizations’ properties.
“Good data is the start of everything that makes a company successful,” said Preller.
For some students, the project represented a chance to try new things. Handy, for instance, had worked with business information, but her portion of the assignment, handling employee data, was her first time working with human resources information. Jahn said her experience was even more varied: “I got to have my hand in almost everything.”
Most of the student consultants said they expected the experience they gained from the work for Go-Getters and the Lower Shore Clinic would help them in their careers after graduation. The work was especially useful for some, like Moore, who plans to enter the ERP field after earning his degree.
“The overall project was a comparable experience to what they are going to see with clients outside of college,” said Schuldt. “It was a win-win for all involved.”
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at www.salisbury.edu.