Q and A with Dave Kieffer

Dave Kieffer, Associate Vice President of Administrative Systems and IT/BAR Business Advocate for the Enterprise Project, will be retiring from Ohio State on Monday, September 30th. As a Business Advocate, Dave helped inform the Executive Sponsors Group to validate solutions and facilitate decision-making. Working alongside process owners, business owners and project leadership, he provided valuable cross-workstream direction. Thank you, Dave, for all your support of Ohio State and the Enterprise Project!

Below is a question and answer with Dave, a Buckeye who has dedicated more than 30 years to bringing innovative and enabling technology to the Ohio State community.

How did you get your start at Ohio State?

Dave Kieffer black and white photo
1980s Dave Kieffer, "Of course I’m ready for this! I’ll do it!”

I started as a student employee in 1986 doing programming work on the mainframe, which was interesting. At the time, I also had a co-op in Cincinnati. For a while, I was going back and forth to my co-op. The work here had to do with people though, while the engineering work was more just numbers. This was much more interesting to me – to see how you use systems that impact people and how they work. So when they had an open position, I was still a student and I said, “You know, I’d really just like to do this.” And so I got hired before I was done with my degree and finished my degree as an employee.

My boss left maybe two years after, and I took ownership of my first system pretty early. They asked, “Do you think you’re ready for this?” And I’m like, “Of course I’m ready for this! I’ll do it!” It’s been the same my entire career: “Yeah, I’ll do that!”

What is a stand-out accomplishment that is special to you?

Dave Kieffer and VP and CIO Mike Hofherr
VP and CIO Mike Hofherr toasts Dave Kieffer.

The Peoplesoft implementation project, or the Administrative Resource Management System (ARMS) project. And it happened a lot like this project happened: one unit got this crazy idea that they wanted to go buy software, and brought everybody else with them. It was transformational like the Enterprise Project is transformational. We pulled a bunch of systems together that had not been together before. We did clean sheet process work before we started; we did all this conceptual design work about how it ought to be. And we got a lot done.

That was an amazing personal experience because it was super intense; you form these bonds with people that you never forget. And some of those people are still here. So that was a really defining project for me and for the organization, to change from every unit doing their own thing to central enteprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

What are some other similarities between the ARMS project and the Enterprise Project?

There’s a lot of parallels. And I think for a lot of the folks joining the project who have never done anything like this before, it is an experience that will change their professional careers. It just will, because it’s so intense and it’s so different. And what we’re implementing is going to be implemented at a lot of places over the next 10-20 years. So we’re on the front end of it again. We were on the front end of it with PeopleSoft as well.

What are some of the lessons learned from the ARMS project that have been applied to the work we're doing now?

Dave and Denise Kieffer enjoy congrats from teammates.
Dave and Denise Kieffer enjoy congrats from teammates.

One is that the business areas are even more involved in the Enterprise Project than they were in the ARMS project. They gave their input in the ARMS project, but weren’t owners of the project itself. Now it’s more embedded, which is a more positive experience for them. I’m really proud of the culture that’s been created and the positive energy around this project.

We also learned a lot from our partners, like Accenture, at the time. The ARMS project put us in a position to be doing what we’re doing now. We know what questions to ask; there will be a lot fewer surprises at the end of this.

What are you looking forward to seeing occur as the project continues?

Watching the team get through this testing cycle and get ready for Release 1 is fun. I’m excited to see that happen. The testing window is the hardest time because there’s so much happening. Fix and test, fix and test, and the entire team is doing that at one time. It’ll be hard to leave before it’s done, but I also know it’s in really good hands. This is an amazing team, and I have a lot of confidence in this group.

What will you miss the most about working at Ohio State?

The people. It’s the obvious answer, but it’s real. This place breeds good culture. It makes it fun to come to work and solve problems. I’ve watched some of these leaders take over and run the show, and that’s really gratifying. These are people I helped get to where they are, and that’s pretty cool.