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Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekly Update and Key Messages for the Week of 01/28/13

Systemwide Collaboration a Challenge -- and a Top Priority -- for ESUP
One of the most challenging aspects of ESUP so far has been identifying effective ways for the ESUP team and system stakeholders to collaborate across functions, units and campuses. Phase 1: Plan & Discover requires the participation of hundreds of people from all five campuses of the University, many of whom have expertise in multiple work streams, as well as ongoing responsibilities to their home departments. In Phase 2: Analyze & Design, the need for consistent, well-equipped meeting space and reliable tele-conferencing and collaboration platforms becomes even more important, since Interactive Design and Prototyping (IDP) sessions will require continuous engagement from key stakeholders several hours a day for multiple weeks.

This is clearly not “business as usual” at the University -- which is why ESUP has made collaborative work spaces, facilities, and technology a top program priority. This effort has pushed existing platforms like Google and UMConnect further, in some cases, than they were meant to go -- as a result, we continue to test new equipment and software for affordable and effective solutions to keep our teams connected wherever their members are. The goal is to develop a technology “tool kit,” with multiple options for work streams and users based on their specific needs for each particular session. The program has also reserved space across the Twin Cities campuses for fit-gap validation sessions and IDP sessions (which begin in February for the Student work stream) and is building out new conference space to meet immediate and long-term needs. In fact, ESUP is helping to pilot the use of such flexible meeting and work space at the University of Minnesota, with the hope that the space, technology, and practices developed by the program will help the entire University community.

“ESUP is committed to changing culture and organizational practices, as well as upgrading technology,” said program director Andy Hill. “We are working to ensure new ways of broad engagement and participation, including new technologies, collaborative spaces, facilitated meeting techniques, and more.”

In a perfect world, an IDP session would convene in the same space from start to finish, with no need to reset the room for whomever is using it next, no equipment to transport, and dedicated technical support in case something goes wrong. The challenge of finding enough space on campus that can be used several hours a day, several days a week, for several months is tough enough -- ensuring that it is consistent space, equipped for intensive, collaborative, and creative work by colleagues in multiple locations across the state, is daunting indeed.

We need your input! If you have specific concerns or ideas for facilities, technologies, or techniques to improve collaboration and engagement as the ESUP work streams move into the IDP process, please contact Tricia Conway at conwa012@umn.edu.

It’s Still Early, But Changes Are Coming!
As more people across the University learn about ESUP, we hear the question more frequently: What will this mean for me and my work? Those who use the Student, HRMS, and Finance systems on a daily basis have specific questions about key features and processes that impact their jobs (positively or negatively).

Users haven’t heard a lot of specific changes announced yet, in part because of the nature of the methodology being used. The Student work stream, for example, is just finishing Phase 1: Plan & Discover (informally known as the “What, Not How” phase) -- which is concerned with comparing the off-the-shelf PeopleSoft product to our current processes in order to solidify the scope of the project. In Phase 2: Analyze & Design, the Student team will delve into how our system and business processes should work through the IDP process. It is during this process that more specific changes to the system and processes will be identified and described.

That said, the foundational work undertaken in Phase 1: Plan & Discover is yielding specific improvements already. The HRMS work stream, for example, announced last week that the team has identified 133 earnings codes that can be inactivated (approximately 40 of which the user community sees) due to infrequent use or opportunities for streamlining.  This reduction in earnings codes will simplify the entry of HR/Payroll for the user community and the Office of Human Resources.  These codes will be inactivated in March 2013; user communications will share the details of this change in the next several weeks. Meanwhile,  in the Student work stream, the five campuses have agreed to use a single, consistent set of classroom characteristics when the University moves to its new class scheduling system, Ad Astra. These classroom characteristics are used to determine whether a given space is equipped and appropriate for a particular class or activity. Agreeing to a consistent list across all campuses  eliminates a modification to the PeopleSoft system required to maintain campus-by-campus characteristics.

The ESUP team and leadership are committed to sharing information and specific changes as this process unfolds! If you have questions about the process or progress of ESUP, please email esup@umn.edu.

ESUP at the Legislature
As part of the University’s response to the Minnesota legislature regarding administrative efficiency at the University of Minnesota, President Eric Kaler asked the ESUP team to prepare a brief update on the program and its progress to date. The one-page update was reviewed by the ESUP Executive Oversight Committee and shared with the president last Wednesday. The update is also available online.

New Team Members In Williamson
Several members of the Technology team (Application Development and Testing) moved into Williamson 150 on Monday. If you see new colleagues, be sure to welcome them and introduce yourself!

Register by Wednesday for the Portal Kickoff!
Wikipedia defines a web portal as, "...a website that brings information together from diverse sources in a uniform way." But what does that really mean? The U of M has myU, One Stop, and any number of online tools. But something is missing. Figuring that out is not a simple task. The real question is: "What SHOULD the portal be at the U of M?" Help us answer that question by attending the portal kickoff event.   Register for the event by Wednesday, Jan. 30, and learn more at z.umn.edu/portal.  If you can’t make the event, follow it on Twitter (#umnportal).


  1. The company name for the new academic room scheduling software is "Ad Astra" for those who may be interested in researching more.

    1. Thanks, Carla -- I've fixed the company name in the post. Not sure how we missed that!