I am pleased to report that work on a new student information system SIS) for the University is continuing to make positive progress. The SIS supports the academic program by fulfilling core functional needs like course registration, grade reporting, student record keeping, application for enrollment processing, financial aid awarding, student billing, and degree auditing. Further, it stores data essential to academic advising, institutional reporting, research, completion of Board of Regents requirements and other external and internal data requests, space scheduling, career services, alumni relations and other functions.
Since my last update, the following have been accomplished:
- The System Evaluation Team (SET), comprised of 23 faculty and staff, has completed its initial review of proposals to implement a new system. After providing an initial evaluation and review of costs, a smaller number of implementation vendors has been advanced for further consideration.
- Two software systems remain under consideration, derived from a previous set of proposals and review. We will not commit to a software system selection until we are prepared to simultaneously commit to an implementation vendor.
- The Executive Steering Committee received a report from the SET on March 9, 2009, and endorsed plans for the next steps in the evaluation process.
- A subset of the System Evaluation Team is now conducting day-long working sessions with selected implementation vendors to refine our understanding of the work proposed and the associated costs. The goal of the effort is to insure that, once a vendor is selected, there is clear, common understanding of the responsibilities of the vendor and of University staff, and that every efficiency possible is achieved.
- In a parallel effort also intended to reduce the cost of implementation, a team is working to review and refine processes that are part of the current system in order to simplify them where possible. Referred to as "business process re-engineering" or BPR, the effort looks to save valuable human and financial resources by eliminating unnecessary steps or refining processes that are part of our current operations.
- Mike Holmes from Admissions and Heather Soesbe from Financial Aid are working with consultants from Moran Technology, and facilitating working sessions with groups of faculty and staff who use the various processes under study.
- Jan Hanish, Assistant Vice President for Administration and Finance, continues to provide administrative leadership to this project. She can be reached at Jan.Hanish@uni.edu if you have project questions.
Though we are in particularly difficult budgetary circumstances, the strategic importance of this project to the University remains. The risks associated with our current system are growing as each semester passes, and we must have a system that can reliably provide the services needed to maintain the academic program. We will need to provide a plan for funding this effort that makes sense for the times, but that allows us nonetheless to achieve this critical goal.
My thanks to those involved for their continued diligence. Our mission remains to assure the next generations of faculty, students and staff at UNI will be able to accomplish their important work with the support of a system that meets their expectations.
Vice President for Student Affairs