As the calendar year draws to a close, here is an update on both the operational and project portions of ConnectCarolina.
ConnectCarolina is the name the University uses for its PeopleSoft implementation. PeopleSoft is an enterprise administrative system that includes Campus Solutions, Human Resources/Payroll/Benefits and Finance components. Continue reading for updates on all of these components.
Campus Solutions Continually Improved
The University is well into year three of using ConnectCarolina’s Campus Solutions as its student services administrative system. There has been continued improvement to Campus Solutions, with the following functionality added in the past year:
- Advisor Center
- Tar Heel Tracker (degree audit)
- GPA Calculator
- Course Request Approval system
- Online ordering of transcripts
- Academic early warning
- Class Roster with Pictures report
- Summer School Admissions
- Interfaces for the Common Application (Undergraduate Admissions) and ApplyYourself (Graduate School Admissions)
Priorities for changes to Campus Solutions are determined by the Enterprise Applications Coordinating Committee (EACC) comprised of representatives from the major functional offices in both strategic and operational roles. The EACC incorporates ConnectCarolina user feedback made through the Users Forum; the chair of the Users Forum serves on the EACC and an online forum of user suggestions is monitored and incorporated into EACC decisions.
Finance and HR/Payroll Project Update
The ConnectCarolina project team has been working on the HR/Payroll and Finance implementations for the last 18 months. The primary focus has been determining what the University needs the system to do (“requirements”) and how PeopleSoft meets those needs
Along with subject matter experts (SMEs) and business analysts (BAs) from the functional offices as well as Campus Working Groups, the team has been engaged in a process called fit/gap:
- Fit is a requirement that can be met by PeopleSoft without modification
- Gap is a requirement that cannot be satisfied by PeopleSoft
Gaps are resolved by business process changes wherever possible. Under the clear direction of Sponsors and Stakeholders, the project is keeping modifications to a minimum, and all modifications require the approval of the Sponsors
Keeping modifications to a minimum saves time and money, especially when regular updates to the software are delivered by PeopleSoft, such as annual updates to federal financial aid regulations. Each update requires ITS and functional offices to conduct extensive testing before going live; modifications mean even more testing and increase the risk of problems with the system.
The Path to Go Live
On both the Finance and HR/Payroll projects, the ConnectCarolina team has been developing plans for completing the project, including estimates for conversions, interfaces, customizations, workflow, security and reporting. The goal is a final project definition covering:
- Scope — what will be done
- Schedule — how long it will take
- Budget — how much will it cost
In the 1st half of 2012, the Stakeholders and Sponsors will review the final scope, schedule and budget. The team will then develop timelines to go-live for the Finance and HR/Payroll projects.
Just as with Campus Solutions, the Finance and HR/Payroll components will be regularly upgraded after the initial go-live. The implementation of PeopleSoft modernizes the University’s administrative systems and puts a framework in place for continual improvements.
Campus Working Groups Critical to Project
HR/Payroll and Finance Campus Working Groups have been formed, comprised of representatives from schools and units across campus. Members of these working groups serve a critical role in the ConnectCarolina project by providing feedback on the new system/processes to the project team and by communicating information about the new system to their Schools/Divisions.
There is also an Applications Collaborative group comprised of technical support employees from schools and units across campus. This group is helping these employees prepare for the significant changes that will be introduced with the implementation of the ConnectCarolina HR, payroll and finance projects.
Reporting Project Underway
The project is also working on implementing Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), a data warehouse for all PeopleSoft applications and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), a reporting tool. The focus initially will be on Campus Solutions, but will serve all components of ConnectCarolina over time.