The Virtual University as 'Timely and Accurate Information'
This article investigates the implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning System in a redbrick university in the UK. The first part is concerned with the way in which the Implementation Project Team has come to conceptualise its task or mission and represent it both to itself and to the rest of the University. On one hand, the discussion is about the rolling-out of a rather mundane information system, purchased simply as a replacement for an out of date system called 'MAC'. On the other, for some people, the system amounts to a large, and complex – almost mythical - model of the University, a kind of ‘Virtual University’. Specifically, the article is interested in one particular phrase, script, or mantra that appears over and over as the accepted rationale, mission and justification for the project: the ‘provision of timely and accurate information’. It is argued that the phrase helps to mediate the boundary between how the Project Team and others understand the University as a whole, and the ways in which it is, could be, and should be changing. The second part of the article is focused on the way in which those implementing the new system are attempting to move the University from an old (seemingly ‘chaotic’) model to a new (supposedly ‘ordered’) ‘informational model’.