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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Student Work Stream: Collaboration Key to Successful Decision Making

Members of the Student work stream Functional Steering Committees (FSC) faced a daunting task during the nine months they spent in Interactive Design and Prototyping: the first comprehensive examination and restructuring of PeopleSoft-related business processes since 1998. This included reviewing 93 business processes and nearly 900 modifications to the existing system. The goal of this effort was to increase efficiency and retire as many modifications as possible to allow for using delivered functionality. The challenge was accomplishing this while maintaining a high level of service. Questions such as, “Is there a better way?” and “What modifications can we do away with?” were routinely asked and the FSC members were charged with finding the answers and making decisions.

Because these decisions would affect the entire University system, it was critical that decisions resulted from open dialogue and discussion representing all five campuses. To accomplish this, a functional steering committee (with representation from each campus) was created for each Student work stream module and embedded in the team. In a methodology led by implementation partner, CedarCrestone, the FSC members worked alongside business analysts to review business processes and then make the decisions. “It takes all of the groups working together to best serve our students,” says Colleen Miller, finance director for the Morris campus and member of the Student Financials functional steering committee.

When a challenging situation arose, the functional steering committees often reached out to users. For example, both the Admissions and Student Records teams held Town Hall meetings to discuss the impacts of a particularly difficult decision with their stakeholders. 

Tina Falkner, director of Continuity and Compliance in Academic Support Resources and a member of the Student Records FSC, says taking the time to carefully consider each decision was a priority. “The Student Records functional steering committee took the time to discuss how we could change our business processes and how we would identify and fix errors that might arise from the new processes. We then allowed enough time for members of the FSC who would be the most impacted by the change to air their concerns.”

Transparency and a willingness to listen were critical. “All decisions were the result of open and thorough discussions,” says Brenda Herzig, director of financial aid and One Stop Student Services at Duluth and a member of the Financial Aid FSC. “Most decisions made were to improve issues we have had in the past but couldn’t resolve because of a lack of system resources. The upgrade is providing us the opportunity to make much needed changes that all campuses agree on.” For the Financial Aid module, these changes resulted in a 70% reduction in modifications to the system--a huge win for the University. 

To learn more about the outcome of work of the Student work stream FSCs, visit What’s Changing

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