The Captain's Chair
The Jaguars are coming!
Soon there will be a new addition to the EIS family! As with the earlier additions to the family, there will be labor involved and a significant gestation period.
Seriously, UNT has had a presence in south Dallas since 2000. Under Texas state law, the UNT Dallas Campus can become a free-standing, four-year university when student full-time equivalent enrollment reaches 1,000. The UNT Dallas facility has been in operation since the spring of 2000. It has grown steadily and opened a beautiful new facility on Houston School Road in Dallas last year.
This fall, the UNT Dallas campus reached 959 full-time equivalents, an 18 percent increase over the fall of 2007 figure of 814. John Ellis Price, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor of the UNT System and Chief Executive Officer of the UNT Dallas Campus said the upswing in enrollment illustrates the demand for a public university in Dallas. The increase also makes it clear that UNT Dallas will be opening as its own university in 2010, the target date approved by the UNT System Board of Regents last spring.
“The train has left the station,” Dr. Price said. “UNT Dallas is coming and it is coming in fall 2010.”
EIS is the primary administrative information system for the UNT System. We currently support the three official entities of the UNT System – the system itself, UNT in Denton and the UNT-Health Science Center in Fort Worth – that existed when EIS became live in the fall of 2003. The processing for UNT-Dallas is currently done under the umbrella of other UNT entities. UNT-Dallas employees and students are part of the other UNT entities’ business units, institution ids, and setids in the PeopleSoft nomenclature. Their data is processed along with the data of the other UNT entities.
In the fall of 2010, a significant change will occur when- UNT-Dallas becomes an independent entity. It will be a new and separate state agency just like the other UNT System entities, and will have its own version of EIS within the overall EIS application. The UNT Dallas version of EIS will have its own configurations, table setups, processes, reporting requirements, gateway portal, etc. Even though UNT-Dallas will be smaller than UNT for some time to come, most of the same processes have to be established. The volume of data (students, employees, etc.) is much lower but the functional requirements to support UNT Dallas are not proportionately less.
Similarly, there will be an implementation project to bring up the UNT-Dallas version of the major EIS applications – finance, human resources/payroll, student administration and portal. Although we plan to clone many of the decisions and processes that have been established for UNT, there will still be significant configuration, conversion, testing, interfacing and reporting efforts required to go live at UNT Dallas. Some requirements that will be unique to UNT-Dallas must be addressed through configuration and customization.
The CITC and UNT-Dallas have begun preliminary discussions about bringing UNT-Dallas into the EIS family. Broader discussions with other EIS constituents will be required as we move forward. We will keep you up to date with the progress.
In closing, please join me in welcoming UNT-Dallas to the family. They are fortunate to be joining a family that is dedicated and committed to the success and continued enhancement of EIS for the benefit of our respective institutions and the UNT System.
EIS Financials 9.0 Upgrade
The Oracle/PeopleSoft Financials upgrade from version 8.4 to 9.0 is underway. Testing environments are being prepared and users in the various administrative, functional areas for UNT, HSC, and the UNT System are being educated on the finer points of doing a massive upgrade to a significant aspect of EIS. The functional areas for UNT and UNT System include those related to the Controllers Office and Financial Reporting, the Budget Office, Purchasing and Payment Services, Assets, and Research Services (Grants). For HSC, the areas involved are the Accounting Office, Financial Systems, Purchasing, Property Control, the Budget Office, and Grants and Contract Management.
In July 2008, with the assistance of an outside PeopleSoft service provider, instructional sessions were held which revealed the differences in functionality between the current version and the new 9.0 version. It is the expectation that some of the new features will not only enhance the use of the software, but also allow for eliminating some of the customizations to the delivered software that have previously been done by CITC development staff (Financial Information Systems Team).
The first round of testing in the new version begins in September, with the e-Procurement and Purchasing modules. Many things have changed, including the look and feel of the e-Pro requisitions life cycle. There are new features which make the accessing of information relating to requisitions more user friendly and robust.
All of the areas involved are eager to get started on this next phase of the on-going effort to stay up-to-date and provide the best in PeopleSoft Financials functionality to their respective campuses. More updates are forthcoming, so stay tuned. For more information about the project, go to http://eis.unt.edu/90upgrade.
EIS Activity Spikes during Fall Registration
EIS showed a dramatic rise in activity during the fall registration period and the first day of class. Any of us that have been with the University Of North Texas through previous registrations, found this as no surprise. The interesting aspect about this fall registration is that the EIS Application Infrastructure Management team, lead by Luanne Linke, implemented the PeopleSoft Performance Monitor earlier this year, which has given technical staff the ability to measure just how dramatic those spikes in activity are.
The graph below represents data collected for the month of August 2008. It shows how active students are during registration and the first day of classes. Dates to particularly note are August 18th marking the beginning of the major fall registration, and August 25th marking the first day of fall classes. Illustrated are the transactions (requests/hits on a web server) for LSPD (myls.unt.edu) and PAPD (my.unt.edu). Notice that the PAPD (my.unt.edu) tripled its normal work load at the start of registration, and LSPD (myls.unt.edu) doubled its normal activity.
Server loads during student registration periods
Reporting Modifications Completed for National Student Clearinghouse
The Student Records Systems team lead by Linda Wallace, CITC, has completed modifications to the delivered NSLC (National Student Clearinghouse) files which are extracts to report the enrollment status of all students with an active term for the date chosen. The file is uploaded to the National Student Clearinghouse once a month by the Registrar’s Office. Subsequent reports must reflect the change in status and date for students who, through drops and withdrawals, change from one enrollment status to another (i.e. go from full-time to half-time, half-time to less than half-time, withdrew, etc.) In addition, it reports the anticipated graduation date of students. Also completed was the NSLC Graduation Verification process, by which other schools are able to verify that a student graduated from UNT by contacting NSLC for that information.
Students Benefit from Early Alert Process
A new modification is complete for the Academic Readiness Office (ARO) called Early Alert. The modified process allows faculty to send information to the ARO from either the class roster or the new audit roll about individual students who may be having a problem of some sort. The process also allows the instructor to contact the student directly via email regarding the issue, and gives the Academic Readiness Office the ability to follow up as needed. The process auto-populates pertinent information about the student, instructor, and class - making it a quick and easy way for the ARO to mentor and help students who may be having issues and to resolve those problem areas in a timely manner.
New Technical Team Lead for Contributor Relations
In September, Jeri Takimoto joined CITC as the new technical team lead for the Contributor Relation Systems Development Team (CRSDT) which will provide EIS technical support for the Advancement / Development Offices. Prior to joining UNT Jeri was a Program Manager for Verizon Communications where her responsibilities included project management, gathering and documenting business requirements, system implementation, user acceptance testing, and end-user documentation and training. The newly reformed team will also include Jay Maxwell and Pam Naughtin, formerly members of the Student Records Systems Development Team (SRSDT).
PPS Imaging System replaced with ImageNow
Purchasing and Payment Services (PPS) implemented the ImageNow electronic document management, imaging and workflow solution to replace the existing imaging system this summer. The department has improved processing efficiency through the elimination of more paper forms that travel among the various workgroups. All invoices received from vendors are now scanned and placed into a workflow that is used as the documentation for processing the payments through EIS. Employees responsible for processing travel reimbursements and pre-payments are no longer moving paperwork between them. Through the use of workflow, the images move through the stages of EIS processing and allow the team to achieve greater efficiency.
“The department will be using the integration between ImageNow and EIS to provide retrieval capabilities of the documents from many EIS pages, “ said PPS Director, Joey Saxon, Ed.D. “ePro Coordinators and Approvers across campus will soon have the ability to retrieve invoices and other payment documentation from the requisition lifecycle.”
Parent Loans included as Anticipated Financial Aid
Delivered functionality within the EIS Financial Aid software allows financial aid awards accepted by a student to count as “Anticipated Aid” toward a student’s account until actual funds are received and credited to the account. This is a benefit to students, allowing their “Anticipated Aid” to count toward their balance instead of the student having to make payments or having their classes cancelled.
The PeopleSoft delivered functionality was not sufficient for parent (PLUS) loans because even though the loan was accepted, there are additional checks done by agencies outside the UNT Student Financial Aid and Scholarship Office determining the parent’s eligibility. For Aid Year 2008, UNT did not receive funding for 20% of the loans accepted by the parents. Allowing all accepted parent loans to be counted as “Anticipated Aid” and holding a student’s classes would incorrectly suggest that the loan would be funded and applied to the student’s account for those 20%. The Financial Aid and Scholarships Systems Development Team (FASSDT) developed a customization to allow the parent loan to count as anticipated aid once the loan was guaranteed by the servicer. This allowed the 80% of parent loans being funded to accurately reflect the aid that would credit the student’s account. This was a major improvement in services for students and parents involved in the parent loan process.
Undergraduate Admissions Office Receives New Functionality
An EIS improvement for Admissions, named the Funnel Report, is in production. The Undergraduate Admissions Office is using this new functionality to compare Admissions data week by week to the previous year's data. The process in EIS takes the place of a manually run query and manual manipulation of the current year's data in a spreadsheet. EIS functional users report the new feature is saving several hours per week.
Audit Rolls improved for Faculty and the Environment
An online Audit Roll for faculty to use in the EIS Faculty Center is now available. Faculty are required to report to the Registrar’s Office on the attendance and academic progress of every student enrolled in their classes. This is required so that the University can submit accurate data to the Coordinating Board for funding purposes. In the past, all Audit Rolls were printed and faculty had to complete the rolls by hand, then return the document to the Registrar's Office where updates are made to add students who were missing, or remove students as necessary. There was no functionality for recording academic progress, or the lack thereof.
The Online Audit Roll is available to the faculty for each of their classes and provides a way for them to report attendance (or non-attendance), academic progress, add students who are attending the class but are not showing on the class roster, and notify students and the Registrar's Office of all of these items. A batch job runs at night to email students with attendance or academic progress issues, as well as any comments that the instructor wants to send to the student. This term 6,474 audit rolls will be processed online, saving over 9,000 sheets of paper.
DBA’s have Busy Quarter
The Oracle Database Administration team has accomplished quite a lot this quarter. Considering there are two vacant positions on a team of four, the accomplishments are even more outstanding. Technical successes for the team this quarter include:
- Viability of the Standby Databases for LSPD was proved during an outage on the ntsem50001a server.
- Hardware deployment/re-deployment was accomplished based on the Spring hardware acquisition.
- FSPD database was successfully moved to the new hardware and Compellent storage (this was unsuccessfully attempted in December 2007).
- Significant improvements in performance were accomplished through tuning efforts on the applications in FSPD.
Discovery Park UPS Maintenance Performed
Twice-yearly preventative maintenance was performed on the UPS battery units that support both CITC main computer rooms. The first maintenance preformed for each UPS (universal power source) is a semi-annual process during which the individual battery cabinets are taken offline, one at a time, to test the individual batteries. This process, which takes about 30 minutes, always leaves sufficient battery cabinet power online and available to handle computer room power needs.
The first such maintenance for the Discovery Park UPS was conducted in early September. There was no disruption to any computer room’s electrical services as a result of this process. This maintenance was originally scheduled for late August but was postponed until fall 2008 registration week was safely over. The CITC Operations team, lead by Lawana Robinson, worked in cooperation with Steve Mathis, Facilities Coordinator for UPS maintenance on this critical task.
EIS History Brief
|January 2003||Implementation of PeopleSoft began|
|Fall 2003||Initial finance components, Contributor Relations, and Campus Community go into production|
|Late 2003||Human Resources/Payroll goes into production|
|Spring 2004||Student Administration and my.unt.edu portal go into production|
|Spring 2007||Customer Relationship Management – Graduate Admissions goes into production|
|October 2008||Customer Relationship Management – Undergraduate Admissions goes into production|
EIS Training Uses De-Centralized Model
Due to the size of the enterprise system, it is sometimes confusing to understand who handles training for different parts of EIS. The training model is a colaborative effort between CITC and EIS data owners.
There is a group in CITC named EIS Training, Communications, and Administration (EISTCA). One of the team’s responsibilities is for the overall training strategy as well as training technologies utilized by any EIS training coordinators and documentation specialists. The manager of the group also has fiscal responsibilities with outside vendors, such as Oracle University, for technical and functional users who need training for new and upgraded Oracle/Peoplesoft applications. Training is only conducted by the EISTCA Manager if a global application need is identified, such as PeopleSoft’s query tools.
The EIS training model follows the idea that training should be conducted by the department responsible for the data upon which the training is based. Staff in the departments are also the experts on their EIS module's processes and pages. On the EIS web site, there is a Contacts section. For each module, departmental contacts are listed for both UNT and HSC, including the department’s training coordinator. The contacts are found at http://eis.unt.edu/contacts.
EIS Training Resources
Many training resources are available online to assist users of EIS. The following are the most commonly used:
- Help for students, faculty, and academic advisors using portal (my.unt.edu) self-service features
- Purchasing and Payment Services
- Human Resources
- Vista courses