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Members of the Umoja project team have embarked on a "world tour" to meet with colleagues at offices away from Headquarters (OAHs) and field missions to wrap up the first major step in Umoja's implementation.

Once in place, the Umoja system will enable more effective management of human, financial and physical resources to support fully the needs of the United Nations. This will have been achieved by reengineering our processes and practices to be more efficient and implementing them on a single, global information system that will replace IMIS and many of the 250 administrative systems scattered across the Secretariat.

As recently announced, Umoja is the name that was selected for the United Nations enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. (Umoja to bring unity to the way we work)

Broadly, the main steps in developing Umoja are:

  • analyzing current administrative processes and needs,
  • designing new and more effective working methods reflecting best practices,
  • developing a single global information management system to support those working methods,
  • testing the solution extensively in real-life scenarios,
  • training staff to use it effectively, and
  • implementing it in all offices and missions.

The analysis phase is now reaching a close. While visiting approximately 20 UN entities in OAHs and field missions during February and March, Umoja staff are completing and validating the documentation of existing processes.

In the course of their travels, the Umoja team members are working with administration managers to ensure that the list of business processes across the four functional areas – finance, human resources, supply chain/logistics/procurement and central support services – is complete; to document systems, processes and databases that have not already been captured; and to seek feedback as to whether processes already recorded elsewhere in the Secretariat match their own. Colleagues in missions and OAHs are also being asked to identify challenges, risks and opportunities for improvement.

Equally important, the visits will add to a Secretariat-wide network of colleagues contributing to and supporting the implementation of Umoja.

It is not possible for Umoja staff to visit every office or mission on this trip, but colleagues in all locations will be invited to review and validate the complete set of processes captured. The team looks forward to meeting with staff in additional offices and missions in upcoming project stages.

The Umoja project is a strategic part of the UN reform initiative and enjoys the support of UN management at the highest levels. The replacement of IMIS and other legacy systems with Umoja presents a rare opportunity for the UN to improve its working methods so that it can carry out its work more efficiently in all major areas of resource management. There is great potential value to be realized by learning from good ideas that have been implemented around the global Secretariat and by harmonizing processes.

The input and participation of experienced staff members in all duty stations and missions is critical to the success of Umoja's implementation. The Umoja team is aiming to build strong relationships for the duration of the project with colleagues throughout the Secretariat. These visits are just one part of a much larger effort to ensure that the design of the system has considered the full spectrum of the Organization's needs as well as best practices in the UN system.

Originally published on iSeek on Friday, 6 March 2009, New York

Blog Posts: Umoja Website
March 2009