Upgrading to a new version of software is like moving into a new house. Some things in the new house will be different and not everything you used before will be useful. You need to decide what to bring with you so that you can do what you need to do (cook a meal, wash your clothes, pay your bills, etc.) without bringing what is unnecessary. For example, if your new place has central air, you can probably leave those heavy, energy-hogging, inefficient window units behind. The gorgeous mailbox with your family name on it may not be of much use if the postal service uses the built-in mail slot.
University business analysts, subject matter experts, and members of functional steering committees have spent the past nine months in IDP evaluating what PeopleSoft has delivered and what our business requirements are so that we pack our moving boxes as light as possible for the move to 9.0.
"There is a shift in how analysts are resolving issues," said William Dana, project director of the Student Systems project. "We don't just look at what we're doing, but how we are doing it."
Guiding their decisions, the team followed three principles:
- Utilize delivered 'Self-Service' functionality for students, faculty, and staff.
- Wherever possible, use delivered PeopleSoft functionality without customization or implement the industry-standard, best-practice approach.
- Improve or retain UM business process best-practice solutions not delivered in PeopleSoft.
So what does nine months of IDP look like? The 694 IDP sessions equaling roughly
- 16,621.5 hours resulted in:
- 93 change requests
- The replacement of more than 26 homegrown self-service applications
- The replacement of 100 UM Reports
- Discussion of all business processes
- A 55% demodification rate
"It was a lot of work, going through IDP and examining our processes," said Kris Wright, director of the Office of Student Finance and chair of the Financial Aid and Student Financials Functional Steering Committees. "It allowed us to fix things we knew were not working well, but didn't have the time to address otherwise. We found we could use delivered functionality to get the same result as some of our modifications did. Going 'vanilla' will be far less costly for the institution, which means less cost to the students for the same level of service. Further, going 'vanilla' will more easily allow us to accept, test, and use the new software PeopleSoft will be sending us in the future."
"We're making a large institutional investment, and we will be able to take more advantage of that based on the work we have done up until this point. It will be a more efficient system," Dana said.
And thanks to a cohesive, highly effective team, in addition to the experienced guidance from implementation partner CedarCrestone, the University will benefit from a much more mature system. It's also been an opportunity for staff to not only contribute to the project, but to meet people outside of their unit and home campus.
Associate Vice Provost and University Registrar Sue Van Voorhis, who serves as the business process owner for the Student upgrade and the Portal said, "We've been able to break down barriers. This is a very united group. Everyone is so committed to making this a success and going with our principles."
Feedback continues to be of the utmost importance in ensuring success of the upgrade to build for the future. Dana and Van Voorhis emphasized that faculty, staff, and students should continue providing feedback as the project progresses.
"The involvement of stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive," Dana said. "Even in this early phase of the project, lots of people provided invaluable input." He added, "We've really fully untied the knot. That's a credit to the team and their dedication and passion they have brought to this effort."
Up next: ensuring that the system does what it needs to do and the users can accomplish their business. That means technical development of the approved changes, writing test scripts and completing testing, preparing and delivering training, and performing security analysis. Change management and communications efforts are also being planned to make sure that the move to the new "house" of PeopleSoft 9.0 will be as smooth as possible.
For more information and ways to get involved with the project, please visit upgrade.umn.edu.