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State of Alaska

Department of Administration

Division of Finance

Alaska Department of Administration, Division of Finance
Administration >  Division of Finance > IRIS Portal > Project Info > Project FAQs

IRIS Project

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the questions below to see their corresponding answers.

Human Resource Management (HRM) Module

For more detailed FAQs regarding the Human Resource Management (HRM) module, please click here to be redirected to the IRIS SharePoint site > IRIS HRM FAQs. Please be aware this list is a work-in-progress and the IRIS HRM Project team will be regularly adding FAQs. If you have a question related to IRIS HRM, please email IRIS.Project@alaska.gov.

General Questions

01. What is IRIS?

IRIS stands for Integrated Resource Information System. IRIS consists of three software systems that will replace the State of Alaska’s (SOA) financial (AKSAS) and payroll (AKPAY) systems, and provide functionality for accounting, procurement, debt management, human resource management, and learning management.

The software systems that make up IRIS are being implemented in stages:

  • SymPro - debt management system - live in July of 2012
  • LearnAlaska -learning management system - live in June of 2013
  • IRIS FIN/PROC - financial and procurement system - live in July 2015
  • IRIS HRM – payroll/human resources management system - live in November 2016

02. What is the IRIS Project?

The IRIS Project is a statewide effort to design, configure, and implement the three software solutions which make up IRIS (CGI Advantage, SymPro Debt Manager, and Meridian Global Learning Management). The goal of the IRIS Project is to improve the SOA’s administrative and operational functions through the use of an integrated system.

The IRIS Project consists of three key work effort areas: Business processes, software, and behavior adoption. The IRIS Project has teams of people focusing on each of these types of activities to help the State transition from current operations to how work will be done in IRIS. Click here to view the Project Team organizational chart.

03. What are the benefits of implementing IRIS?

The benefits of implementing IRIS include:

  • Standardization: Standardized accounting rules and financial controls for all SOA agencies means staff trained to use IRIS will be trained to work in any department in the state.
  • Transparency: The establishment and adoption of common accounting rules and consistent controls for all SOA agencies will provide improved government transparency and accountability.
  • Real-Time: Real-time reporting capabilities, meaning data will be updated as the system receives information instead of having to wait for nightly batch runs to occur.
  • Automation: Automated approval processes will help minimize paper processes, eliminate redundant data entry, and help to reduce data errors.
  • Security: By supporting security based on roles and reliable audit capabilities, IRIS will improve security for sensitive information.
  • Recovery: IRIS is designed for rapid system recovery and high system availability, which will minimize downtime and aid speedy recovery.
  • Support: IRIS is supported by a multi-year, renewable contract that provides ongoing technical support and regular software updates, so that IRIS can adapt to changing technology and demands.

04. Is the IRIS effort fully funded?

Yes, the Alaska State Legislature fully funded the IRIS Project through two different Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) which were approved in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Although the implementation date for the HRM portion of IRIS has been extended to November 2016, the project will be accomplished within the current project budget.

05. Will IRIS replace the Alaska Budget System (ABS)?

No, replacing ABS is not part of the IRIS Project.

06. Will IRIS replace the Alaska Data Enterprise Reporting (ALDER) Warehouse?

No, ALDER will not be replaced. Data sources will be added to ALDER to accommodate changes in reporting with the new system. ALDER will maintain the same look and feel. After IRIS is implemented, legacy financial data from AKSAS will continue to be available for historical reporting purposes but the data will no longer be updated.

07. Will IRIS replace eGrants?

No, replacing eGrants is not a part of the IRIS Project.

08. Can I continue to use AKSAS and AKPAY once IRIS is implemented?

In July of 2015, all departments began recording FY 2016 financial transactions in IRIS. AKSAS will continue to be utilized to facilitate close-out of FY 2015, but no new activities will be recorded. Once closeout is complete, AKSAS will be inactivated, and all data will be available in ALDER for reporting purposes.

AKPAY will interface with IRIS Financial until the IRIS HRM module goes live in November of 2016. Once live, all payroll/HR transactions will be processed solely in IRIS HRM. Necessary YTD accumulated data will be posted into the new system and historical data will be archived and accessed as needed.

09. When can I start using IRIS?

The various modules of IRIS will be implemented sequentially, and will be available for use according to the implementation timeline.

  • The SymPro Debt Management system went live in 2012, and is actively being used by DOA staff.
  • LearnAlaska, the Meridian Global Learning Management System went live in June 2013. The LearnAlaska Enterprise Administrators work with state agencies who are interested in using LearnAlaska to manage their training programs. LearnAlaska is currently being used by the following departments to train employees and track workforce training efforts:
    • Department of Administration’s Divisions of Personnel and Labor Relations (DOPLR), Finance (DOF), and State Security Office (SSO),
    • Department of Corrections,
    • Department of Environmental Conservation,
    • Department of Health and Social Services,
    • Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
  • The IRIS Financial and Procurement system went live in July 2015 and is successfully being used statewide.
  • The final module, IRIS Human Resource Management (HR/Payroll), will go live in November of 2016, and will complete the project.

IRIS Project staff will remain to assist with the Help Desk and ongoing support.

10. Will I receive training for IRIS in advance of being expected to use it?

Yes! All SOA employees who will be impacted by the new system will receive training and preparation in advance of using IRIS for any day-to-day work. For most end users, training will begin just prior to implementation. Some users will receive earlier training to aid in system development, and others will be trained to participate in User Acceptance Testing (UAT). UAT will test the application using real world scenarios, ensuring relevancy to SOA end users.

The IRIS Project Team is dedicated to supporting all employees through each phase of this transition, including working with each department to assess training needs and develop relevant training materials.

For more information on training, please see the How will IRIS affect me? section.

11. Will there be step-by-step procedures developed?

Yes. Statewide standardized procedures will be created and provided for all end users to follow. Individual departments may have specific procedures for performing certain activities and will provide additional instructions pertaining to these activities for their staff.

12. Once IRIS is implemented, how will this impact my data reports?

IRIS will interface directly with ALDER as a new data source. Data input into IRIS will be accessed directly in ALDER, while AKSAS, AKPAY, and WorkPlace Alaska continue to be available as other data sources. The IRIS universes were developed specifically to accommodate the new chart of accounts structure and the new processes and procedures of IRIS. Since data is structured differently in each system, users will not be able to do direct comparison reports between them, but training on how to interpret/adjust to these differences is ongoing.

13. Why is the state replacing the existing financial (AKSAS) and payroll (AKPAY) systems?

AKSAS was installed in 1984, and AKPAY in 1990. In technological timeframes, they are antiquated and have become obstacles to many of the SOA’s newer systems. The upgrade to IRIS will enhance efficiency by providing system-wide integration, real-time reporting, and the ability to strategically view all SOA operations.

14. Who should I contact if I have questions regarding IRIS?

You can email your questions about IRIS to: IRIS.Project@alaska.gov. This inbox is monitored by members of the IRIS Change Management Team who work closely with the entire IRIS Project Team to respond to your questions in a timely manner. You can expect a response to your inquiry within 1 business day.

How will IRIS affect me?

01. How will IRIS affect me?

Depending on your job, IRIS may significantly change your daily work, or you may only be affected indirectly. Much of the new IRIS system has already successfully been implemented. In November 2016, the final module, IRIS HRM will go live, and HR/Payroll staff will see changes to their work processes. All employees of the State of Alaska will also see changes, primarily in the benefit of being able to access their employment and payroll documents via the Employee Self Service portal.

All affected staff will be supported through the transition. The IRIS Project Team will:

  • Introduce users to the new system and describe its features, its benefits, and the anticipated changes
  • Involve selected users in parallel testing, user acceptance testing, and train-the-trainer activities
  • Provide a robust schedule of complete, duty-specific training sessions prior to GoLive.

If I work in Finance or Procurement:

Those working in finance and procurement saw significant changes to their day-to-day work when those components went live in July 2015.

If I work in HR & Payroll:

In November 2016, the HR and payroll functions will go live, affecting employees working in those areas as well as general employees, who will have access to an Employee Self Service portal to access employment and pay history.

How other employees may be affected:

If you need to register for training, you may get to use LearnAlaska, IRIS’ online learning management system that went live in June 2013. LearnAlaska provides registration for training courses and tracks and analyzes training.

02. How will IRIS impact HR/Payroll busy times, such as Legislative Session, field seasons, payroll cycles, etc.?

The IRIS Project remains sensitive to the impacts the project may have on centralized and departmental HR/Payroll staff and will do their best to provide advanced notification of upcoming activities and schedule tasks during timeframes that are agreeable for all involved.

03. How will the IRIS Project engage end users?

The State of Alaska is dedicated to utilizing the existing staff knowledge base as it develops the IRIS modules. The IRIS Project Team is working extensively to engage a variety of participants in parallel testing scenarios, user acceptance testing, and in ‘train the trainer’ processes.

Additional engagement activities are planned for each phase of the project through GoLive including ongoing communications, presentations, and preview sessions. Project information will continually be communicated via the monthly newsletter, IRIS Insight, (click here to subscribe) and frequent web updates. If you have questions about the project, you may direct them to the Project Team at: IRIS.Project@alaska.gov.

04. When and how will training occur? How do we identify who to train? How will we reach/communicate with everyone who needs to be trained?

IRIS training is ongoing. LearnAlaska currently captures training needs, broadcasts training opportunities, and tracks training completions for IRIS Financial/Procurement course offerings. If you are interested in IRIS FIN/PROC training opportunities, you can access LearnAlaska here, and review the available training options.

Training for IRIS HRM

The IRIS Project Team has been working extensively to complete a training needs assessment to determine the number and type of users who will need IRIS HRM training. The training courses are being written with SOA-specific scenarios, and are being carefully reviewed and adjusted to ensure relevancy of content and ease of understanding. As the IRIS HRM system is developed, the training will be developed to ensure accuracy and up-to-date system information.

Prior to the implementation of IRIS HRM in November 2016, a full schedule of classroom and self-paced trainings will be offered to all payroll/HR staff who will be impacted. Registration for end user training will open in July 2016, with courses staring in September 2016. However, some users will be trained early so they are familiar enough with the systems to participate in Parallel Testing, User Acceptance Testing (UAT), and/or Train-the-Trainer.

Information regarding training will be broadcast through direct communications with agency staff, the monthly newsletter, IRIS Insight, (click here to subscribe); web updates, and posted flyers.

Once IRIS HRM is live, training needs will be continually assessed and addressed.

05. What are some ways the system will streamline my work or simplify my basic job tasks?

IRIS will simplify basic job tasks through automated approval workflows, reduction of manual entries, and elimination of duplicated efforts. Some examples of what the system offers include:

  • The use of online documents to create transactions
  • Availability of prepopulated templates for common actions
  • Automatic population of fields throughout a document
  • Auto calculations and automatic encumbrances
  • Granulated security levels allowing more users and distributing the burden of work

06. Will IRIS cut jobs?

Implementing the new IRIS software will not cut jobs. Instead, IRIS will provide end users with an opportunity to pursue career paths across departments since they will be trained in a system that is used throughout SOA. Additionally, experience with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system like IRIS will give end users experience with current technologies being used in other sectors.