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Umoja is making it happen: reform initiative to begin implementation mid-2013

Posted: Wednesday, 17 October 2012, New York | Author: Umoja

Umoja, the Secretariat’s administrative reform initiative that will change how we work, how we conduct our business, and how we manage our resources, will begin its implementation in mid-2013 and conclude in 2016.

Umoja will bring substantial financial and operational benefits to the United Nations. Through the use of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, it will integrate and streamline the business processes that manage financial, human and physical resources. 

Umoja will change the way we do a wide variety of activities from ordering materials and tracking inventory to performing all of our financial activities and managing projects. It will also impact the way we manage our assets, our people-related activities and various other processes.

Why Umoja

Why so much change? Umoja will address major issues that keep the UN from operating at its best. These include a lack of financial visibility for key decision makers; a multitude of systems that are obsolete, duplicative, inefficient, and not integrated; processes that are inconsistent across Missions and other entities; an abundance of areas that are still “paper-based;” and a lack of high-quality employee data across the organization. Importantly, Umoja will also enable the UN to meet the requirements outlined as part of IPSAS, the International Public Sector Accounting Standards initiative.

Umoja Implementation 

Umoja will be implemented in successive releases, Umoja Foundation and Umoja Extension. Each release will include a separate set of system functionality and updated business processes. These releases will be implemented using a phased approach. Missions and other UN entities will be grouped into “clusters,” each of which will receive implementation at a different time.

The Umoja team worked closely with its stakeholders to develop this cluster approach. Over the course of 6 months in 2012, Umoja hosted approximately 20 workshops, including staff from Headquarters (HQ), Offices Away from Headquarters (OAH) and the Field, to consult with the business community in finalizing the schedule of locations and organizations by cluster. The Foundation pilot sites have been identified as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL), where the system is due to go live in the summer of 2013. Umoja Foundation functionality will subsequently be implemented in 4 clusters: starting with the rest of Peacekeeping, then Special Political Missions, and finally the rest of the global Secretariat, concluding with Cluster 4 at the end of 2015. The following diagram outlines the implementation schedule and clusters.

Umoja Foundation and Extension 1 Deployment Schedule

Umoja Foundation is essential to support IPSAS requirements. Foundation functionality includes processes related to finance (funds management and financial accounting), supply chain (real estate, plant maintenance, logistics execution, and procurement), project management, and sales & distribution (third-party procurement services and billing).

Umoja Extension will also be delivered in multiple releases. Extension 1 (UE1) includes human resources and travel functionality. Pilot sites have not been finalized, but this second release of the system is due to go live early in 2014. It will subsequently be implemented in 3 clusters, concluding with Cluster 5 in the summer of 2016.

Umoja Extension 2 (UE2) includes processes with functionality related to budget formulation, force planning, programme management, supply chain planning, warehouse management, conference and event management, full grants management, and commercial activities. More details on these releases will be provided in the future as Umoja’s implementation progresses.

Benefits of Umoja

Once implemented, Umoja will bring substantial benefits to the UN. It will provide:
• Increased operational effectiveness and timeliness
• Streamlined processes
• A common single data source for reporting
• Improved accountability
• Adoption of international leading practices and standards
• Enhanced transparency
• Higher client satisfaction
• Better internal control and auditability features
• Harmonised policies, procedures and systems across the global Secretariat

Umoja will also provide the UN with an extensive decrease in annual operating costs thanks to refined business processes, better information, and reduced manual effort.