The Naming Contest

On Wednesday, April 18th you received an email asking for help to name a project. If you are up to speed on internet trends, you may know naming contest have been producing some fantastic results (see 13 Internet Naming Contest Fails That Are Gold). However, I’m not too worried about our contest and trust our esteemed panel of judges will take their naming selection duties very seriously.

You are probably wondering what the project is about and why we’re asking you to name it?

We have spent the last few months meeting with a variety of campus stakeholders to learn for ourselves what the project is about. We know of many opportunities to enhance the student experience, streamline administrative business processes, plus we are long overdue to install Jenzabar upgrades. The Annual Plan goals (#24 & #34) that this project is intended to fulfill are pointing to these issues and opportunities. You have read the Annual Plan, right?

In an attempt to provide context to stakeholders heading into these discovery meetings, we have been calling the project the “ERP Project”. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and describes a system of integrated applications that support many business activities and processes. The problem with that name is that it often requires further explanation and worse, makes the project sound like a software upgrade.

Yes, there will be a software upgrade, but the project is much more and should not be viewed as an “IT project”. This is a “business project” owned by various departmental leaders with oversight by the ELT. The goal of the project is to improve the way we work and ultimately serve our students better. After all, the business and not IT has to deal first hand with the unhappy people when customer expectations are not met and the system is not working. IT supports, enables and takes direction from the business. This is a business project.

We are working with people representing Retention, Advising, Office of the Registrar, Finance, Enrollment, Extension, Student Life, Housing and that list may grow. In addition, we are also working with a number of excellent consultants from four different firms.

Soon our initial interviews and meetings will be completed and we will present a very clear plan of action. We’ve learned we have the opportunity to improve in every area we look at. Sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to point out these opportunities and at other times, we have been waiting to make specific improvements for years. We know we want:

  • beautiful and easier to use web pages for student services;
  • to make it easier for students to apply for housing and easier for our staff to place students in rooms all while minimizing vacancy rates;
  • to make student bills easier to read with more transparent pricing and fees;
  • a better simplified GL structure that improves budget management and financial reporting;
  • students to be able to register for courses on their phone;
  • to make Transfer Credit decisions more quickly;
  • better insights into which students need additional supports;
  • to cut down on how often we have to double enter data;
  • students to be able find more of the services they need on their own time and fewer line-ups at our office doors;
  • and the list goes on.

Some of these outcomes may be outcomes that your department owns. Information Technology (TWIT) plays an important role on the project with our technical skills and know how, but on this project, you are our customer and this is your project. So what should we name it? 🙂

Stuart Schellenberg
Executive Director, Information Technology

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