Administrative Software Conversion: FAQ
Datatel System Offers Opportunity To Improve Effectiveness of Overall Campus Operations
The Datatel contract was signed in June and the 12- to 18-month conversion to the new administration software system will begin this fall. The anticipated outcomes include expanded access to information and improved effectiveness of campus operations, says Evan Montague, who was tapped by President Tracy to chair the transition leadership team.
“The Datatel Colleague implementation will provide integrated and robust Web-based functionality for the entire campus community,” says Montague. “This is a tremendous opportunity to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and utilization of campus technology resources by all users, including prospective students, students, faculty and staff.”
Everyone on campus will be directly or indirectly involved in the conversion process, says Montague. New systems will be implemented for each of the College’s major campus operations. These include but are not limited to student records, employee records and business operations.
Why do this now?
The College’s current software company no longer provides upgrades to the software currently in use, and the number of institutions using this system has dropped to only 20 or so. The College has no choice but to change, wrote President Tracy in a recent campus update. “The campus community has done extensive work this past year to identify what functions are desired most in the new system and how it could improve our work,” she wrote. “We heard very clearly that there is a significant need and opportunity for a more integrated way to access and use information.”
Campus enthusiasm for the Datatel products was based on their ability to integrate the College’s many databases and functions, says Montague. It is based on higher education best practices and has been refined through use at more than 700 higher education institutions, including many colleges like Alma.
When will the conversion occur?
The conversion will take place over the next year to 18 months, beginning this fall. The timetable is being finalized based on input from the various areas. For example, the general ledger needs to be one of the first conversions, and the business office recommends an October schedule for that conversion. The College will begin review of current operational procedures in preparation for implementation in the weeks ahead.
How will the campus be involved?
Evan Montague will chair a leadership team to oversee the transition. Assisting will be Sue Deel, Dan Henris and David Reed. They will establish a steering committee with broad campus representation to assist them throughout the project.
What will the transition be like?
A major commitment was made to hire outside assistance for the conversion so that “we do not drag the process out or put undue expectations on members of the campus community,” wrote President Tracy. “In fact, almost two-thirds of the cost of the conversion is for personnel. Unlike our last experience, we intend to move swiftly and minimize unnecessary disruption to the work and schedules of all involved to the greatest extent possible.”
What will be expected of members of the campus community?
In her campus update, President Tracy outlined the following expectations for members of the campus community:
• “Since the new system represents best practices from across the country, we will implement it as delivered for at least the first 12 months of operation,” she wrote. “If an adaptation is considered essential, it must be approved by either the leadership team or the executive staff pending the level of change.
• “Campus departments/sectors will be expected to adhere to the implementation schedule unless there are justifiable and approved reasons for change.
• “All users of the system will participate in timely training and develop the skills needed to implement the portions of the system essential for our operations.”
Posted: Thu, July 23rd, 2009 at 2:11PM