“Lessons Learned” Take ctcLink to the Next Level
After each deployment group (DG) goes live in ctcLink, the ctcLink Project Team documents and compiles issues (as well as successes) and considers improvement strategies to be implemented for the next deployments.
This process of documentation and continuous improvement is referred to as “ctcLink Lessons Learned.”
The seven colleges in DG4 — Centralia College, Edmonds College, Highline College, North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, South Seattle College, and Wenatchee Valley College — went live over two weekends in February 2021.
Overall, the ctcLink conversion process and methodology itself works and implementation activities are continually fine-tuned for each deployment group. Improvements were made to the DG4 ctcLink implementation activities based on lessons learned from DG3 and DG2 colleges. And DG4 lessons learned were compiled to improve ctcLink implementation for DG5 and DG6 colleges.
- Centralia College: Dr. Bob Mohrbacher, ES, and Carrie Powell, PM
- Edmonds College: Eva Smith, ES, and Beth Farley, PM
- Highline College: Tim Wrye, ES, and Pat Daniels, PM
- Seattle Colleges: Dr. Kurt Buttleman, ES, and Daniel Cordas, PM
- Wenatchee Valley College: Reagan Bellamy, ES, and Jason Hetterle, PM
In addition to the lessons learned compilation, real time changes are made as they are identified. These improvements are possible due to the close and frequent interaction between the ctcLink Project Team, college PMs and SMEs.
The DG4 lessons learned are represented collectively as a deployment group rather than by individual college or staff member. Lessons learned were collected from a variety of sources both during implementation and post go-live:
- Surveys of college participants in Global Design Adoption, BPFGs, and Security training
- Ongoing meetings with college PMs and SMEs
- DG4 PM meetings
- All PM March 2021 meeting
- Executive Sponsor meeting
- Key informant interviews with ctcLink Project leads
- ctcLink Project team
The ctcLink Project Quality Assurance Monthly Report published by Moran Technology Consulting, November 2020 offers context for the DG4 Lessons Learned:
“DG2 and DG3 were, by most accounts, successful implementations. There were hiccups that are being addressed but overall, the solution works. As the project has seen the deployments go smoother each time, there can be a belief that future deployment groups will have a much easier implementation. However, while the solution and the conversion processes improve each time, there is one aspect that does not change — the amount of work necessary to be completed by each college in order to have a successful implementation. There are a large number of college core business processes that will be substantially changing with ctcLink, requiring a significant commitment by each and every college in order to execute a successful implementation.”
Summary of Lessons Learned
Business Process Fit/Gap (BPFG) Sessions
- Add opportunities for college one-on-one sessions.
- Provide detailed preview of the schedule so colleges can plan better to get the work completed.
- Provide an overview of the interconnectedness of the PeopleSoft pillars and functionality.
- Communicate the availability of the ctcLink Learning Environment.
College Project Management
- Announce office closures early to allow college departments to plan.
- Make sure consistent and appropriate people are involved in the work packages: The work packages were often conducted by smaller groups of people at the colleges. Many were approaching the activities as tasks to “check off.” Then, when go-live occurred many people were not exposed to the system and had to learn the processes prior to go-live.
- Colleges said they would have benefited from more deliberate and frequent collaboration/collaborative learning.
- Make sure there is a procedure or process for how internal training materials will be created and distributed.
- Include supervisors and administrative support in the training for the department personnel.
- The college support plan should be practiced prior to go-live and have multiple entry points.
- The college IT staff who will offer support (Tier 1/helpdesk related to ctcLink) should take the self-service training, including for the mobile app, so they are aware of its functionality.
- Communicate with students about upcoming ctcLink early so they know what to expect.
- Help the college community anticipate seeing their own confidential information in the system.
- Conduct a practice drill of the security management plan prior to go-live.
- Make sure that the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) commence as soon as possible – since the steps are interconnected, one delay can delay multiple activities.
- Hire business analysts.
- Develop a stabilization plan for 90 days post go-live.
ctcLink Project and Legacy
- Don’t implement additional applications during the same month as go-live or integrate those into the ctcLink UAT activities.
- Lists of tasks for the conversion weekend are very helpful.
- Include ctcLink project staff in the meetings between Legacy staff and the colleges regarding the transition and shutdown activities.
- Have no more than three colleges go-live during any one conversion weekend. There are many conversion activities from Legacy to ctcLink PeopleSoft that occur sequentially by college and step/task. Each additional college adds complexity to performing the tasks. With more than three colleges, the quality of the conversion process is compromised.
- It was hard for college personnel to retain the security information from the workshops and apply that knowledge to their business processes.
- The colleges did not understand the workbooks.
- Need to add training on month-end closing processes and improve training, in general.
Student Financials and Finance
- All areas of Student Financials need to be tested before go-live, even if it is a subset of the data.
- Help colleges anticipate what they will need to do post go-live with student financials and finance.
- Had an issue where Finance General Ledger extracts were unexpectedly pulling duplicate period between the detail and open balance conversions.
- One of the college’s banks did not have the requirements to support PeopleSoft and found out late in the implementation.
- Provide context and a preview for the homework in the work packages, e.g., for BPFG, Data Validation, and UAT.
- Improve consistency in communication and expectations for the work package homework, especially in Data Validation.
- Put work package reference materials in the Reference Center.
- Incorporate Data Validation Cycle 4 activities into UAT.
- Help college PMs plan better with 30-and 60-day look-ahead with the schedule.