Information Services Department
Support Services Plan 2005 - 2009
The Department of Information Services (DIS), a department within the Division of Information Technology (IT), effectively supports multiple campus administrative software applications with a high degree of technical knowledge and a strong focus on customer support. By maintaining a technical focus on applications, database integrity and security, our goal is to allow our customers to focus on using the systems to provide business value rather than being concerned with the technology.
DIS consists of three distinct units:
- Financials/Human Resources – This unit provides programming, troubleshooting and project management expertise for the applications that support accounting functions, human resource functions and payroll processing for UW. These applications are currently provided by Oracle after their recent acquisition of PeopleSoft. Additionally, this unit provides programming, troubleshooting and project management expertise for the Advance application that supports the UW Foundation and the Alumni Association, the AXIS application that supports IT’s telecommunications billing and tracking and the legacy student information system during the course of the Banner implementation project.
- Student Information System - This unit provides programming, troubleshooting and project management expertise for the applications that support student enrollment functions including, but not limited to, admissions, registration and classes, financial aid and accounts payable. This application also feeds important information to a number of other campus computing systems and is the primary source for reporting data concerning student, faculty and class information. As of March 2005, a new student information system, reporting tool and student portal are being implemented all provided by SunGard SCT.
- Database Office/Application Security Office/Quality Assurance – This unit supports the rest of DIS and UW through database expertise, knowledge of application security, quality assurance and librarian functions for all of the applications supported by DIS. Additionally, this unit provides programming, troubleshooting and project management expertise for a number of smaller administrative systems in use at UW including VisuaLab, TouchFit and HEAT.
The three units work closely together to provide a high level of customer service. In order to provide this high level of customer service, it is necessary for DIS personnel to work closely with other IT departments and campus customers in a cohesive manner, communicating constantly. It is also critical that DIS employees remain abreast of technology changes to help executive leadership to make sound long-term decisions in the best interest of UW.
Overview of Action Items
Through a unit self-study process (documented in Section II of this document), discussions with key clients, discussions with executive management and participation in the Information Technology Services Review (ITSR), the action items below have been developed as the basis for DIS activities over the next five years:
- Implement the SCT Banner student information system and WyoWeb portal
- Upgrade PeopleSoft HRMS
- Upgrade PeopleSoft Financials
- Determine optimal long-term plan for Financials and HR applications
- Evaluate current application and data security
- Continue providing quality application support
- Aid in the implementation of communication improvements
- Review methods for changing application data
- Improve understanding of client business processes
- Develop application software total cost of ownership models
- Participate in all IT action items
- Improve DIS business processes to improve customer service
Action Item Detail
Banner and WyoWeb Implementation
To continue to provide a high level of service to students, faculty and staff, UW has purchased a new student information system from SunGard SCT as well as reporting software and a portal to facilitate access to information for many different UW constituents. The successful implementation of this software will put UW in a positive position for many years to come.
Action Item 1: Lead to successful completion the implementation of the SunGard SCT Banner Student Information System and the WyoWeb portal to provide enhanced functionality to students, faculty, staff and alumni (Priority 1).
PeopleSoft HRMS Upgrade
Oracle/PeopleSoft releases new versions of their human resources/payroll software every 18 months to two years. They support these releases for 4-6 years after their release, necessitating periodic upgrades to the software. If the software used by UW to support human resources and payroll functions is not current and supported, Oracle/PeopleSoft will not supply the required updates to ensure that payroll taxes are computed properly, that new laws are observed and that software bugs are fixed. HRMS version 8.3, UW’s current version, will not be supported after the fourth quarter of 2007, requiring an update to a more recent version of PeopleSoft HRMS before that time.
Action Item 2: Lead to a successful completion the upgrade of PeopleSoft Human Resources Management System to provide enhance functionality to our customers and to better position UW to plan for the long-term support of the financials and human resources management systems (Priority 1).
PeopleSoft Financials Upgrade
Similar to PeopleSoft HRMS, Oracle/PeopleSoft releases new versions of their financials software every 18 months to two years. They support these releases for 4-6 years after their release, necessitating periodic upgrades to the software. If the software used by UW to support accounting, accounts payable, asset management and purchasing is not current and supported, Oracle/PeopleSoft will not supply the required updates to ensure that new laws are observed and that software bugs are fixed. Financials version 8.4, UW’s current version, will not be supported after the first quarter of 2008, requiring an update to a more recent version of PeopleSoft Financials before that time.
Action Item 3: Lead to a successful completion the upgrade of PeopleSoft Financials system to provide enhance functionality to our customers and to better position UW to plan for the long-term support of the financials and human resources management systems (Priority 1).
PeopleSoft Long-Term Planning
As discussed previously, it is necessary to periodically upgrade the Oracle/PeopleSoft applications. These upgrades, with cost components in the areas of software, hardware, consulting, and training, are very expensive, as is the annual maintenance that UW pays for the updates to the Oracle/PeopleSoft software. There are other options in the area of administrative software, with options that include staying with Oracle/PeopleSoft, contracting with outside companies to provide the required updates to the Oracle/PeopleSoft software or buying and implementing software from a different company. It will be the responsibility of DIS to provide the information and options to executive management of UW in order to make the best long-term decisions concerning administrative software.
Action Item 4: Determine and recommend the best long-term plan for the support of the Financials and HRMS/Payroll applications in light of Oracle’s 2004 acquisition of PeopleSoft (Priority 1).
Application and Data Security
Security of personnel information is of critical importance and failures to protect student, faculty, staff and alumni data have caused significant problems to a number of higher education institutions. While DIS is responsible for the security of the administrative applications it supports, strong security involves other IT units and technical resources across campus to accomplish. IT will work towards a comprehensive security approach, with DIS driving many facets of the efforts.
Action Item 5: Evaluate application-level security for all administrative applications supported by DIS, recommend security improvements and participate in IT security initiatives to ensure the best possible security for the data entrusted to UW (Priority 1).
Quality Application Support
Above all, it is critical that DIS continue to provide a high level of service to its customers through stable applications with required functionality.
Action Item 6: Continue to provide a high level of support to our customers who utilize the many administrative systems supported by DIS through quality production system support, well-managed and executed upgrades and the custom development of functionality where appropriate (Priority 1).
Information technology is critical to all components of the University but its complicated nature makes it difficult to understand for many outside of technical roles. DIS will aid in the Division of IT’s activities to help promote the effective, safe and secure use of information technology and to help campus understand the rationale for and outcome of IT’s work.
Action Item 7: (Operational) Actively participate in IT initiatives to improve internal and external customer communication and teamwork (Priority 1).
“Backdoor” Data Changes
Clients often request that DIS personnel change data within administrative applications in ways other than the screens provided by the application. While client requests and their outcomes are documented by DIS personnel, in instances where “backdoor” changes are made there is no audit trail within the application to determine who did the work and what exactly was done. Additionally, the complex structure of many of these applications makes it difficult to determine all the places that a change must be made, possibly resulting in errors. Finally, without a comprehensive audit trail within the application, financial audits could raise questions that will be difficult for the University to answer.
Action Item 8: Review the data change work being performed by DIS and determine if more appropriate methods, from an auditing standpoint, for making data changes are possible (Priority 2).
Customer Business Processes
DIS personnel believe and industry best practices show that if programmers have a better understanding of the work that their functional customers do, they are able to complete their programming assignments faster, with higher quality, and they are also able to test more comprehensively before asking users to complete the testing process. Additionally, the process by which DIS personnel would learn the business processes of their customers will also help improve teamwork and communication between the two groups.
Action Item 9: Continue to enhance customer service by developing and implementing a plan to improve DIS knowledge of customer business processes through a cohesive partnership with customers (Priority 2).
Total Cost of Ownership Models
One common misconception is that the cost of the software is the full or at least the largest cost of an implementation project. In truth, there are many cost components that must be considered, and budgeted for, for an implementation and the long-term support and use of the application to be successful. DIS has begun development of a methodology by which the total cost of ownership for enterprise projects can be understood and allow for appropriate funding models to be developed. This methodology must be completed and put into effect by the University to ensure that technology projects across campus are successful and that the limited information technology dollars available to the University are put to the best possible use.
Action Item 10: Continue development and enhancement of a methodology to calculate long-term total cost of ownership models for enterprise technology projects to provide better budgeting information and purchase decision information to our clients (Priority 2).
Participation in IT Action Items
In the IT Divisional Support Services Plan and in internal, operational issues, DIS must participate in, and where appropriate provide leadership for, the successful completion of action items.
Action Item 11: Actively participate in IT initiatives to improve documentation and change management to provide improved service to IT customers (Priority 2).
DIS Process Improvement
Through the department self study, a number of initiatives were identified that, if completed successfully, would allow DIS to provide a higher level of customer service through operational efficiencies, role restructuring and business process changes. Many of these initiatives would also allow DIS to ensure that its personnel are appropriately trained and equipped with the tools required for their long-term success.
Action Item 12: Undertake process improvement and enrichment efforts within DIS that will allow us to, directly and indirectly, provide enhanced customer service to all customers (Priority 3).
- Action Item 12a: Fully examine needs surrounding project tracking and implement a new project tracking system to replace PCS (Priority 1).
- Action Item 12b: Complete an inventory and analysis of all technical tools currently owned and in use by DIS to determine their usefulness, document the total cost of ownership, identify tools that can be retired and identify tools that DIS does not have that would add strategic value (Priority 1-2).
- Action Item 12c: (Operational) Conduct an internal audit of current DIS business processes, both written and unwritten, and develop a cohesive set of process documentation for DIS (Priority 2).
- Action Item 12d: Review new employee training model and augment as required (Priority 3).
- Action Item 12e: Define potential job responsibilities and duties for a DIS student intern, determine whether an intern would benefit UW, and implement the final decision (Priority 3).