Office of Learning and Information Technology
UW System CIO Council, 10/31/2006
UWS CIO Council Retreat and Meeting
October 31, 2006
CIOs and their Representatives
Ed Meachen is interested in a retreat or other development activities for the Common Systems Review Group (CSRG) in the spring. There are quite a number of CBOs and Provosts on the group who could benefit from a broader understanding of IT issues. There was talk of a summit meeting between the CSRG and the CIO Council in the spring, but the scoping of new ERP systems will not be finished until summer 2007. Tom Scott pushed for moving will all due speed so that expertise is not lost through people leaving in the interim. Kathy Pletcher recommended that the individual institutions force themselves to match the capabilities and processes built into PeopleSoft HR instead of modifying it to conform to "local preferences". Could the Common Systems Review Group lead such an effort?
Ed Meachen would also like the CSRG to discuss Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and other integration software. There have already been a few discussions, but they have taken place largely in a vacuum. A reinvention of the MILER core team is another issue that needs to be addressed. He would like to give the CSRG at least a two year vision of the future of common systems. Bruce Maas noted that all of these topics tie into the move to Oracle's Fusion technology.
John Krogman pointed out that the UWS institutions are competing with each other for the same talented staff. For the good of the UW System, there needs to be cooperative implementations and an effective MILER process. Tom Scott recommended that the four remaining institutions move now to the PeopleSoft student system and upgrade to Fusion later in concert with the rest of UWS. The costs of integrating the student system with other systems could be reduced if all of the UWS institutions were up to a common tool level.
Ann Marie Durso reported that it took the staff on her campus two years to get comfortable with the new student system. It is difficult to get people to use the full functionality of new systems; some long time employees tend to revert their old tools.
A major issue is what the MILER core team can handle. MILER was rebuilt two years ago to focus on integration on the assumption that there would be no new student system installations. The contractors who worked on the student system installations were released and the budget was lowered considerably. David Hart believes that the potential of four new implementations provides an opportunity to look again at MILER and FASTAR and the possibility of using FTEs instead of relying upon just consultants. Parallel implementations would keep shared experts fully occupied.
Elena Pokot noted that there is considerable expertise already at the UWS institutions that could perhaps be leveraged if there was some form of backfill for short term engagements. These opportunities could provide professional development activities for the employees involved. Perhaps there could even be incentives for those who take on these tasks. On the other hand, consultants can be assigned to go where and when they are needed, which is more problematic with existing staff volunteers.
Tom Scott pointed out that the PeopleSoft consulting marketplace is much more capable than it was several years ago. Their expertise can reduce the implementation time. Kathy Pletcher affirmed that professional consultants can provide best practices instead of replicating mistakes or local preferences. Ann Marie Durso confirmed the value of this approach based upon the recent experiences at UW–Parkside. Tom Scott recommended a bid for four parallel implementations with the sharing of training, etc.
Chip Eckardt asked how four campuses could be cajoled into agreeing to move in parallel. In the past, parallel implementations were not in absolute lockstep, there were differences in start time of up to a year. With the right team, an implementation could take as little as 18 months. An RFP for a somewhat smaller scope is almost ready to be let.
Topics for a CSRG Retreat in the spring could include:
- Principles for standardized business processes across the UWS institutions
- using the best practices built into common software packages
- SOA and integration in light of the developments with Fusion
Tom Scott pointed out that the UWS's biggest "on boarding" activity is the influx of tens of thousands of new students each year, many of whom work or take classes at multiple UWS institutions. The UWS is currently weak in this form of provisioning, but there may be capabilities through middleware. Perhaps all of the student data could be held in a person hub, not in the application programs themselves.
Ed Meachen also wondered about the overall management of people who have been brought onboard to work on all of these projects, e.g., how many project managers are there now across all of the UWS institutions? A full-fledged project management office at UW System Administration would be very useful, but unlikely in the current fiscal and political environment.
David Hart will take the lead on constituting new models for implementing student systems on the remaining four campuses and defining the role and composition of a re-built MILER team; perhaps using consultants for application expertise and UWS staff for functional and integration expertise. David Dumke will assist David Hart and DoIT in drafting a couple models that will be circulated for feedback in light of the results of the RFP that is about to be let.
John Krogman reminded the group to reinforce on their campuses that these activities are ultimately funded by the UWS institutions themselves and therefore it pays to take the most cost-effective approach.
Elena Pokot and Bruce Maas have volunteered to participate in a working group on disaster recovery planning, or to assign people from their staffs. Another participant from UW–Madison would be valuable. UWM and UW–Madison have begun discussing inter-institutional collaboration. Bruce Maas will call the first meeting.
BadgerNet Converged Network problems are almost non-existent. By this time tomorrow, the legacy network will be discontinued.