The decision to move to a new student management system to replace Callista was made in 2015 when the new owners of Callista gave an end of life date for our current system. The consultation process undertaken with staff across Schools and Business Units reinforced that business processes in place were not meeting the needs of a streamlined approach to student administration, with lots of satellite systems and processes needed to provide information not easily available through Callista.
During 2016, the SMS Project team completed a number of campus and School-based sessions with staff where difficulties or pain points were identified. The outputs from these sessions formed part of the requirements for the new system, and they remain a focus for functionality expectations in Banner. Ongoing consultation continues to highlight the frustrations for both staff and students in using a 17-year old system that has not been able to keep up with other technological progress, and the expectations of users.
Particular frustrations expressed by both academic and professional staff have been:
difficulties with our current reporting platform, Discoverer,
non-intuitive usability and output that requires extensive manipulation to achieve clear data on which to make decisions have been raised by staff from initial consultations,
systems not ‘speaking’ to each other, and
the need to download information from one system, manually manipulate it before uploading to another system. It is time-consuming, resource intensive and involves risks of incorrect data entry.
The new Argos reporting development is clearly delivering
Responses from staff attending the most recent round of roadshows have been very positive. There is confidence that the demonstrations are showing a system that is easy to use and that will deliver usable information.
The design work involved in getting Banner ready for go-live eliminates or reduces the need for manual processes or additional steps. More information will be provided at the next round of campus roadshows where we hope to offer the opportunity for staff to use parts of the new system.
School Manager Consultations
The Practice Adoption team will be engaging with School Managers during August. This follows on from the consultation work that has been done in the past 8 months. Thanks to the contribution from Deans, Directors, DAPs, ACAs and School Managers, we were able to consult with a total of 375 staff members across 9 schools as well as Centres & Institutes. They helped us identify the top 5 areas of interest regarding the SMS features & benefits as well as the pain points in the current system.
In this round of consultations, we will be working with the School Managers to gain a deeper understanding of:
The impact of the language and subject code changes on individual schools
How School Managers and others within Schools use reports
How schools currently use Callista
Involvement with the new SMS and the support they provide to Academics
Gathering feedback on opportunities and risks that the project team should be considering
The School Managers will play a pivotal role in the implementation of the SMS due to their close working relationship with Academic and Professional staff within their schools.We will be engaging with each School Manager to work together on the SMS implementation for their School.
Answers to common questions from the Campus Roadshow
The whole round of August roadshows finished up with a Zoom session last Wednesday – August 14th. In total, we had over 190 attendees and received 140+ questions. Thank you very much to all of our attendees. You were all in the running to win a bluetooth headset and the lucky attendee is Ms. Kerrie Bradley - Practice Adoption Manager for the PMO. Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions from the roadshow.
CURRICULUM - What is the admin process to change subject codes?
With the transition to Banner, units will be called subjects. Subject codes will also be updated. This will occur via the data migration process where we will use existing attributes for units to determine which government field of education code is applied, which level of that unit is applied, and generates the last 3 digits of the unit code. This will be a data migration, not a manual process.
CURRICULUM - Will the new subject codes need to be re-approved by APCAC?
No. APCAC is aware and has approved of the new coding system. The conversion of Callista subject codes to Banner subject codes will be completed by the project team during the cut-over to our new SMS. The code used for new subjects will depend on when the subject will be made available for enrolment. For subjects available from Autumn 2020, Callista subject codes will be used and the code will be converted during cut-over to the new system. The project team is currently working on detailed transition planning to ensure we understand all the changes that need to occur and how these changes can be effectively managed.
CURRICULUM - If someone has started with a course -continuing student- and from their plan their next step is to take 300580.1 now its changed to COMP2005, how will this be managed?
Where a student is part way through a course/program and they have pre-enrolled in a future teaching session with a Callista related subject code, their enrolment in Banner for the future session will be programmatically translated to the new code during the data migration activity. If a student is doing their first time enrolment in Banner, we will be displaying both the Callista number and Banner number side by side in the SMS for their reference for a period of time during the change.
CURRICULUM - When will academic staff be made aware that all mentions of unit learning outcomes throughout their teaching materials will have to be changed?
The timings for the cutover in terms of teaching materials has not yet been established. This is part of the transition planning that is being undertaken by the project. Outcomes of this planning will be communicated to all stakeholders once complete.
CURRICULUM - If there's no version number, what happens when updates are made to a subject?
Subjects are date driven in the new SMS, so if there are updates, a new start date will be delegated to it in the system and the older version will automatically be end dated. To access details of an older version of the subject, you'll be querying the system using the term of the older version.
REPORTING - Would special reports (scripts and one off request) still be available? How would we request for it? Or do we create it ourselves?
The ability to extract special data for one off requests will still be available and will need to be requested via the SMS Reporting team. There are plans to allow staff in general to have a greater ability to run their own reports based on standard data that people ask for.
GENERAL - Why did we go for September go Live instead of December when there would be lesser number of impacted students?
The September go-live date has been selected after a great deal of disussion and analysis and there are legitimate concerns about going live in the middle of Spring semester. There are 2 main reasons for selection of the date - Admission and Enrolment processes for new students commencing 2021 start in August/September of the previous year. We would like our incoming students for 2021 to have a Banner only experience and not have to be accessing Callista and then transition to Banner. Analysis into the amount of usage in the current Callista/MySR environment shows 3 particular peak periods of usage - February, July and December. Whilst we looked at December to be a period that may have been a better or appropriate option, the activities of people re-enrolling for the new year and the admission rounds just before and after Christmas made this not a practical option for us.
GENERAL - What about password and login (same as our WSU account or different), MAC users, would they still need Citrix?
There will be single sign on, so everyone will just use their standard network login details. Citrix won't be needed for Banner. It is cloud based and browser agnostic.
1. When did you first hear about the new Student Management System (SMS) Project?
I first heard about this project back in May 2015 when I was invited to participate in a Working Party to scan the key student administration players in the Australian higher education marketplace. As a School representative my role was to represent the business needs of the School and participate in site visits for vendor demonstrations.
2. What does the new SMS implementation mean to your school?
It will require a communication and education program to ensure all staff know about the new system, and how to use the various components to support day-to-day business needs of end users, both professional and academic staff.
3. Give us your TIP for successful technology implementation?
Ensure the business needs and interfaces are well understood, data migration is thorough, communications are clear, training needs are understood and supported with step-by-step user-friendly documentation. Most important is to test, test, test.
4. How does the SMS align with other projects within your area?
We use a lot of data to inform projects and business decisions, so easy access to reporting functionality from the new SMS will be critical. It’s a little early to know what other significant benefits may be drawn from the new SMS in future projects, particularly given the Go Live date is 12 months away. Involvement in testing should start to open the discovery process to opportunities.
5. What excites you about our new SMS?
Improved self-service functionality for students, particularly in regard to their progression through courses.
6. How do you prepare for change?
Engage with the communication channels, ask questions, understand the changes and opportunities it brings, raise awareness, get involved in user acceptance testing.
A common question we are asked is why September was chosen as the go-live date for the new SMS instead of December given that September is in the middle of Spring session.
The decision to go live with the new SMS in September was not a decision that was taken lightly and there has been significant discussions with stakeholders about the best time to go live. There are two key reasons for the go-live being September 2020.
The Admission and Enrolment processes for 2021 students will open in August/September 2020 and our preference is for these students to experience our new SMS and not use Callista at all.
Detailed analysis into the current usage rates of Callista/MySR was performed and the data showed 3 peak periods of usage each year – February, July and December. Our analysis showed that there are a high number of interactions with the current systems in December for the end of year admission rounds and re-enrolments for the new year. This meant December is not a viable option for go-live.
The SMS project team is now working with stakeholders to agree an alternative “fall back” date in case we have problems during the rollover to the new system. This is a typical project planning activity and is best practice for technology projects. The SMS project team will continue to keep you updated about the go-live planning as we prepare for implementing our new SMS.
Why are we talking about change now? The new SMS is still 12 months away?
The SMS project team is spreading the message that we are “getting fit for change” and there have been some questions asking why now? The implementation of our new SMS is still 12 months away – why are we talking so much about it now, especially when there is so much other change taking place within the University? Shouldn’t we focus on the changes that are happening now and worry about the SMS when we are preparing for implementation?
We need to be communicating about our new SMS and gathering your questions as we are planning and preparing for implementation now! The SMS project is following an Agile project methodology which means we are building the solution, creating the technical environment and preparing for implementation at the same time. Project activities are completed in an iterative approach and we will have different “modules” of the SMS to show at different times. This approach means we have the opportunity to showcase various elements of our SMS as they are developed and explore the impacts to business that arise from these different elements. As we better understand the impacts, we can start to build our ‘change fitness’ and make sure we are prepared for the new SMS when we ‘go live’.
Ways we can build our change fitness include:
Using the new language within your team: subject, major, minor and concentration
Becoming familiar with the structure of the new course codes
Volunteering to be a tester for the new Argos reports
Keeping informed of the SMS project progress – read the monthly newsletter and discuss the contents with your team, colleagues and manager
Thinking about things that will impact your change fitness and letting the SMS project team know about these (for example, specific ‘blackout’ periods for training or times when your team does not have capacity to prepare for the new system)
Being curious about “why” we are changing and how the new SMS will help us in our goal of being a distinctly student centred university
If you would like to find out more about our new SMS or would like the project team to come and speak to your team, please contact the Practice Adoption Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you seen us out and about?
The SMS project had a table at the recent Staff Orientation day. This was a fantastic day and members of the SMS project team had the opportunity to engage with new staff at Western and discuss the project and why it is important for Western.
We will be attending more events as the opportunity arises. If you have an event we can attend, please reach out and if you see members of the project team out and about at different events, please come and say hi!