March Madness Hits OneCarolina (March 11, 2011)
While the NCAA readies for the Final Four in Houston, the OneCarolina team is getting ready for its own Final Four - the final four months before Admissions Go-Live, that is. The Admissions module is scheduled to be online and running by August! So for the month of March, most of the team is focused on integrating all the Project parts and pieces to make the system work for a series of tests over the next months. It's a process that's well planned out, but still feels like a mad dash to get everything done.
The first test of the Admissions system was conducted just a couple of weeks ago, and both functional and technical teams have been examining the results. Overall, the test was a success, but there's still a lot of corrections and integration work to do before round two of testing in April.
In the meantime, the various teams have been meeting, training, and implementing components of the Project. The Student Services team has completed work on data conversion issues, and is now in process of populating various databases for the OneCarolina system. Data conversion - moving information from existing databases and formats into the Banner system and format - has been a critical issue for the teams to tackle. The latest success has been the assignment of almost half a million IDs to archived mainframe records and their migration into Banner. Team members from all campuses have been entering thousands of course listings to build the new course catalog system. While all of this has been going on, Banner training classes continue. The Admissions group has been especially focused on learning report authoring and the Banner Document Management System, that will convert paper applications into digital archives that can be sorted, searched, and indexed electronically.
The Financial Aid team has a new technical consultant from SunGard Higher Education, who will be assisting in building system rules for Banner integration. The team is also getting ready to visit each of the campuses in March for meetings to review current configurations. Their mantra for these meetings will be "Discuss, Decide, Build, and Update!" Training also continues for the FinAid team, who will be focusing on Banner common financial aid processes.
The AR team has a new full-time SunGuard consultant, and is busy examining current business processes, and evaluating what processes can be reengineered to work with the new Banner system. They are also previewing cashiering systems, and planning changes to the way we assess fees.
The Technology team has been supporting Admissions testing, as well as continuing to work on the general OneCarolina infrastructure. Within the team are several groups working on individual technical projects. The Integrations group is coding real-time data transfers between the current mainframe system and Banner. This critical issue is one of the most effort-intensive parts of the Project, but they plan to have it active before the third round of Admissions testing in June. Other members of the Technology team have been working on database development to support Admissions. Working with University Technology Services, they have finished creating a software package that will automate the process of identifying and correcting errors and mismatches in records transfers.
OneCarolina has also received the final shipment of the production hardware that will support the entire system. In the weeks ahead, technical crews will be assembling and configuring the computers, storage systems, security, and data communications infrastructure.
The old saying is that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. But for OneCarolina, the roar of activity won't be going away at the end of this month. “On the OneCarolina Project, we feel like we’re trying to live up to Neil Armstrong’s “Giant leap” statement,” says Mike Kelly, project manager for the Document Management system. “The focus is very much on Admissions go-live. But we have not forgotten all the work that needs to be done in other functional areas. It’s a huge leap forward for the University. So right now we are being very deliberate about what needs to be done on our task list, who needs to do it, and when it needs to get done.”
March Madness indeed!