ctcLink Goes Live for Cascadia College, Peninsula College and Pierce Colleges
On Monday, May 11, 2020, the second set of Deployment Group 3 (DG3-B) colleges went live on ctcLink PeopleSoft. Welcome to the ctcLink family, Cascadia College, Peninsula College, Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom and Pierce College-Puyallup!
Success in Unprecedented Circumstances
Even under ideal circumstances, the weeks leading up to — and the weekend of — a ctcLink Go-Live are historically the most stressful phase of any implementation.
For the DG3-B deployment group, the colleges, SBCTC support, and ctcLink Project implementation teams were presented a seemingly unsurmountable challenge: going live with a fully-remote workforce in the midst of the governor’s stay-home order.
Everyone joined forces to pull off a successful go-live in extraordinary circumstances, setting a new milestone in ctcLink implementation history and, possibly, in large enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations as a whole. Nationwide, many ERP projects have been put on hold or delayed launches as the country — and higher education in particular — has temporarily abandoned business-as-usual due to COVID-19.
Yesterday and throughout the week, college employees will begin logging into their new ctcLink PeopleSoft accounts for the first time, checking their data and basic settings in Human Capital Management (HCM), Finance (FIN) and Campus Solutions (CS).
College staff will take advantage of a three-week dedicated support WebEx for immediate response needs, troubleshooting, and reporting issues. So far, most of the questions have been about Student Financials accounts, security and account activation.
Students will see their new ctcLink interface beginning Tuesday, May 26, after staff have some time to acclimate to the system and conduct any post-conversion clean-up.
A long, strange road
Choi Halladay, Pierce College Vice President of Administrative Services, ctcLink Executive Sponsor, and ctcLink Steering Committee Chair, offered his perspective on the significance of moving forward with ctcLink:
Since I started working in the SBCTC system in 1994, we have had so many failed attempts at moving the colleges to a new ERP system: Buzzeo, Silverline, ASAP, ASAP II, Rehost, Lift+Shift, and now ctcLink. All were attempts at a new ERP or a reaction to failing to move to a new ERP.
But 26 years later, in 2020, we are here. I activated my account in the ctcLink production environment this morning and submitted a leave request. To butcher the eloquence of Neil Armstrong: "That's one small step for an employee; one giant leap for SBCTC.” – Choi Halladay
Lead-Up to Go-Live
Beginning Thursday night, May 7, through Sunday, May 10, the Legacy team, ctcLink Project technical and functional teams, SBCTC Application Services, Data Services and Infrastructure Services, the ctcLink Support organization, and Burgundy (Amazon Web Services service provider), all worked together around-the-clock to convert the colleges’ data from the HP Legacy system to ctcLink PeopleSoft.
Technical PMs, Chandan Goel, Bhuvana Samraj and Venkat Gangula and their teams worked round-the-clock for three days straight (with little to no rest) leading the multiple layers of conversion and validation, partnering with Sandy Main, the SBCTC Application Services team to bring everyone back online for business by Monday morning.
Checking and re-checking before Go-Live
On Sunday afternoon, May 10, college subject matter experts (SMEs) – supported by the ctcLink Project team, as well as Dani Bundy and the ctcLink Customer Support team – conducted a go-live validation check to validate the system and guide the recommendation for a “Go” or “No-Go” decision later that evening
SMEs and pillar leads representing student services, financial aid, payroll, accounting, purchasing, human resources, grants management (to name just a few) spent several hours validating the conversion and walking through the system to check for issues, not to mention the countless hours they have spent validating and testing the data in several cycles over the last few months.
Project managers — Scott McKean, Cascadia; Pauline Marvin, Peninsula College; and Paula Henson-Williams, Pierce College — helped guide their SMEs through the day’s validation activities. As issues were found during the validation period, they were either addressed by the ctcLink/SBCTC teams or noted as issues to resolve in the days ahead.
The "Go or No-Go" decision process
During the Go/No-Go briefing late Sunday afternoon, college and SBCTC PMs and leadership were presented a review of the full conversion weekend, including outcomes and issues.
Tara Keen, ctcLink Assistant Project Director and Solutions Architect; PeopleSoft pillar PMs (John Henry Whatley for Campus Solutions, Sanjiv Bhagat for Human Capital Management, Christyanna Dawson for Finance, Dani Bundy for Student Financials/Financial Aid), and technical lead (Chandan Goel) shared results of the validation session, any issues encountered, how they were corrected and any still outstanding.
“I am impressed with how well the collaboration, timing, management, and coordination came together doing this entirely remote. We’ve never done this before, so we weren’t a thousand percent confident.” Keen said. “We aimed to do our best, but it came off even better than any deployment we've done in-person. I'm humbled to work with this group of folks and impressed with the improvements we’ve made to the schedule and our ability to convert this number of colleges within a narrow window of time.”
It’s a Go!
Jan Yoshiwara, SBCTC Executive Director, said, “This is a new chapter in the history of ctcLink; moving this deployment forward under a stay-home order from the governor. It's pretty amazing that we've done all of this virtually and remotely.” She noted that each deployment has gone better than the previous and this go-live is continuing that pattern.
Grant Rodeheaver, SBCTC Deputy Executive Director for Information Technology and ctcLink Project Sponsor, congratulated the teams on their amazing expertise, effort and commitment to pull this off under extraordinary circumstances. “I especially want to acknowledge the tremendous effort by the ctcLink teams at Cascadia, Peninsula and Pierce colleges,” he said.
Rodeheaver expressed gratitude to the ctcLink Project, ctcLink Customer Support, Legacy, Infrastructure, Data Services and Application Development teams for a successful job prepping the colleges to go live in the ctcLink system and supporting colleges all the way to the finish line.
Christy Campbell, SBCTC Chief Technology Officer-ctcLink Program, thanked the ctcLink team, Cascadia, Peninsula and Pierce Colleges — especially their project managers and teams — for the months and months of hard work they’ve all put in to preparing for this moment,
Campbell acknowledge the extraordinary leadership of the DG3-B PMs (Paula Henson-Williams, Pierce College; Pauline Marvin, Peninsula College; and Scott McKean, Cascadia College), the hard work and resiliency of their ctcLink teams, the steadfast guidance of their executive sponsors (Choi Halladay, Pierce; Carie Edmiston, Peninsula; and Eric Murray, Cascadia) and the ongoing leadership and support of campus leaders (Luke Robins, Peninsula College president; Michele Johnson, Pierce College chancellor; and Eric Murray, Cascadia College president).
“The college project managers are rock stars who have managed this through very hard times,” Campbell said. “As I remember back to July 2017, when I first joined ctcLink, it's been a true college-project-SBCTC partnership to get this far. We are very excited that three more districts have joined the ctcLink family.”
Roll Call to Go-Live
Following the review and input from SBCTC/ctcLink and college leadership, the official “Go” was determined for DG3-B.
Eric Murray said there were no major issues during their team meeting. “It seems everyone is positive about the results from today and we are well-situated for next week," he said. "All thumbs up.”
Scott McKean said there are a few clean-up items for the days ahead, but, “In short, it’s a GO!”
Luke Robins thanked the Peninsula College ctcLink team members who worked so hard to get them to this point. “Our college has never doubted this was where we needed to go,” he said. “And today, while there are a few items to clean up, we will work those things out and are confident we’re ready to move forward.”
Pauline Marvin thanked the ctcLink team for its help during the validation process and will work with SBCTC in the days ahead to clean up a few issues with security, query reports, training, and student financials. She acknowledged President Robins and Carie Edmiston for their support and praised the PC ctcLink efforts, noting they have a very small, but dedicated, team which went above-and-beyond during the go-live activities, while also serving students and moving to a remote work situation.
Carie Edmiston expressed gratitude to the ctcLink project team, saying, “You guys were awesome and we truly appreciate your patience working with each one of us; especially when we're in high-stress situations. I am so thankful we are here. It’s been a long road.”
“We are a GO!”
Michele Johnson said this has been a long time coming, expressing gratitude to the SBCTC ctcLink teams. She thanked the Pierce College team for its outstanding efforts, offering to help other colleges “as we all learn our way through this.”
Paula Henson-Williams thanked the SBCTC ctcLink team for its support, as well as the Pierce College SMEs and executive leadership team, particularly Chancellor Johnson, whose faith never wavered.
She described the go-live validation as “eerily quiet,” a very different experience compared to the recent dry run activities. Things went well overall, with a few test scores that didn’t convert, a few degree crosswalk issues, and minor issues in finance. She said security roles are looking really good thanks to security administrator, Emmett Folk.
“All in all, there are no surprises and I believe I can speak for the Pierce College team that we are all in,” Henson-Williams said. “This has been a long road. And we are ready!”