Major IT projects underway

by Tina Owen,

A collaborative approach improves systems for faculty, staff and students.

When Jeremy Bogan begins reviewing applications for the Class of 2017, he’ll do something that’s never been done before by Willamette’s admission counselors. He’ll open his laptop.

Thanks to a new customer relationship management system called Slate, the admission office can now accept and store student applications digitally rather than as cumbersome paper files. The new approach gives admission staff the flexibility and convenience of reviewing applications while they’re on the road, at home or anywhere they have access to the Web-based system.

Slate also saves the expense of printing paper files, provides more secure file storage, and streamlines and improves processes, including email communications and data reporting.

“It’s a very exciting initiative — and an essential one,” says Bogan, associate vice president for admission. “Slate provides a great user experience for students, and it helps us be more efficient. Best of all, it enables us to focus more on working with students.”

The implementation of the Slate system is just one of 16 major projects being undertaken by WITS to improve the operations and customer service of a number of university offices and departments.

“These aren’t WITS projects in the sense that they belong to the entire university,” says Chief Information Officer Jackie Barretta. “People from all over campus have played a large role in making them happen — and are continuing to do so.”

A fairly new IT governance structure makes possible such involvement by the campus community.

The Technology Council meets at least every quarter to provide strategic guidance and set priorities for the improvement, development and integration of Willamette’s information technologies and services. Chaired by Barretta, it comprises representatives from Finance and Administration, Academic Affairs, University Libraries, the Enterprise Systems Advisory Committee (ESAC) and the Academic Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC).

Three committees —ESAC, ATAC and the Digital and Web Advisory Committee — make recommendations to the council and oversee approved initiatives. Committee members, who are drawn from a broad cross-section of university offices and academic departments, meet monthly to discuss new projects and assess progress on others.

“We’re trying to get the input of a lot of people about what’s important to the university,” says Barretta. “It’s about transparency, consultation and shared governance, as well as making sure that IT projects align with the priorities and mission of the university.”

Jennifer Lawrence, director of operations and project manager for campus life, is a member of ESAC. “One of the benefits of working on the committee is learning how different groups on campus function — and also how their work often overlaps,” she says. “It builds a sense of collaboration and integration.”

Some of the current projects address ways to make existing systems, such as Colleague, sustainable for the future. Others focus on new ways to improve the university’s ability to attract and retain students.

The Adirondack system, which Housing and Campus Life will start using in September, will automate and bring into one system processes such as housing applications, room assignments, billing and student emergency information. It will also integrate with a new ticketing system being implemented for University Services.

Adirondack aims to meet the needs of today’s students, who are used to — and expect — self-service websites and seamless processes. From just one site accessible via their mobile phones, students can request housing maintenance or a change in their meal plan — and they’ll usually see the change happen in real-time.

“Students will find Adirondack very intuitive and easy to use,” says Lawrence. “For staff, tasks and processes that used to take weeks will now be done in days.”

Besides Slate and Adirondack, the other active IT projects are as follows, in order of planned implementation date:

August 2016

  • Web gateway pages — implementing a modern single point of access to all of the university’s applications, as well as role-based access to organizational data
  • Bulk email tool — providing a commercial bulk email platform for creating, managing and monitoring email communications that fall outside of the admission and advancement constituencies
  • Service Center ticketing system — implementing a web-based system for submitting requests to the University Services Service Center and for tracking the completion of requests
  • Degree audit — providing a system to inform students in all schools about their progress toward meeting degree requirements
  • Load curriculum in Colleague — loading and maintaining all curriculum (course and program) information in Colleague

September 2016

  • Generate catalog from Colleague — generating the university academic catalog (curriculum and program information) for all schools from Colleague
  • Raiser's Edge — integrating changes to donor contact information into Colleague
  • Enrollment Rx (a version of Salesforce) for AGSM — loading applicants from the recruiting system into Colleague
  • Athletics —implementing a new system to streamline processes for recruiting, team management and NCAA compliance

October 2016

  • Mandatory emergency contact updates — ensuring students update their emergency contact information by making it a prerequisite to registration
  • Student planning — implementing a system for students to map out their path to finishing their degree and for faculty to provide more robust advising and record keeping
  • Student and faculty notifications — providing useful and timely information to students and faculty when key events occur, such as changes in advisor roles

Later

  • Willamette Academy — setting up Colleague to support the operations of the Academy for student admissions, enrollment, grading, transcripting, financial support and accounting, and human resources
  • Human Resources — implementing the Workday Human Capital Management solution to consistently ensure accuracy in payroll, benefits, and employee information, as well as to provide a positive experience in recruiting and onboarding of employees

WITS will be offering training on many of these systems as they get close to implementation. Please contact Jackie Barretta at jbarretta@willamette.edu or 503-370-6921 if you have any questions.