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DG2 Go-Live and ctcLink Deployment Group Updates

September 27, 2019 by ctcLink Communications

Deployment Group 2 is a GO!

The ctcLink Steering Committee unanimously approved a “Go” for Deployment Group 2 (DG2) during its Sept. 24 meeting. The two-part decision included:

DG2 PeopleSoft Upgrade

The committee unanimously approved a Go for the Community Colleges of Spokane and Tacoma Community College upgrade. The cutover will occur Oct. 11 to 13 to prepare for a Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 Go-Live.  

Spokane and Tacoma went live on PeopleSoft in 2015. They will upgrade from PeopleSoft 9.0 to 9.2 which is an Oracle-supported product. 

DG2 Conversion from Legacy to ctcLink

The Committee unanimously approved a Go for Clark College and the SBCTC Agency to convert from the Legacy software to ctcLink PeopleSoft.

The cutover activities will occur Oct. 25 to 27 to get ready for a Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 Go-Live for Clark College and SBCTC staff.  Clark College students will go live on ctcLink on Oct. 30.

DG2 Mock Go-Live Dry Runs

In preparation for the DG2 Go-Live activities, the ctcLink Project team led two “dry run” rounds, working round-the-clock shifts to plan for Community Colleges of Spokane and Tacoma Community College’s PeopleSoft upgrade weekend and Clark College and SBCTC’s go-live deployment weekends.

Collaboration was key

During this dry run execution, we saw outstanding collaboration between our ctcLink Project Technical/Functional Teams, SBCTC Application & Data Services, the ctcLink Support organization, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Service Provider (Burgundy).

The dedication and tenacity were apparent, with many working round-the-clock shifts, which mimics what will happen during go-live weekends.

Meanwhile, the DG2 Project Managers (PMs),  subject matter experts (SMEs), executive sponsors, SBCTC support areas and the ctcLink Project team worked on readiness criteria checklists to assess readiness for DG2 Go-Live. These were part of the DG2 readiness Go/No-Go recommendation package for the Steering Committee meeting on Sept. 24, 2019.

Each DG2 member’s CEO, Executive Sponsor and PM signed off on a Go-Live Deployment Recommendation form, which was part of the DG2 readiness Go/No-Go recommendation package for the Steering Committee meeting.

Lessons learned

The purpose of a dry run (or mock go-live) is to find issues in advance of an actual upgrade or conversion process. These exercises gave everyone involved a chance to practice for the go-live weekends, gauge the duration of individual tasks, sequencing of tasks, and to catch and correct any problem spots.

Some example findings:

  • To adequately test processes, some staff needed to be granted elevated security access to the system that they will not have after go-live
  • Some steps that were grouped together needed to be separated out for best execution
  • Estimated timing for some activities was inflated; while others needed more time.
  • The ctcLink project team needs additional time to assess findings to provide better guidance for the subject matter experts’ (SMEs) validation activity.

College SMEs and go-live health checks

Part of the go-live plan includes a short (two- to three-hour) validation period for college/agency SMEs to perform a “health check” to validate the environment and the data within it, at a high level, prior to go-live.

The process was revamped with lessons learned during the dry run. Each pillar team will be given more time to prepare a workbook with what was validated, issues found and a list of items for SMEs to check. Rather than SMEs performing this task within the short validation timeframe they will have during the actual cutover event, this will be a separate, guided opportunity for SMEs to go through the health check process.

The goal is for college SMEs to take extra time during dry run to get comfortable navigating through the health check steps, so when it comes time for this task during the actual cutover event, they can perform these tasks during the planned window on the Sunday afternoon before go-live.

DG2 SMEs have not participated in this activity yet; it will be scheduled once the validation environment is available.

In the end, the dry runs were executed successfully, with many lessons learned that will lead to better planning and execution of the October go-lives.

Dry run communications approach

The approach for managing hand-offs and communication across the various teams proved successful, with a single WebEx team meeting room open around-the-clock to manage each task, track issues and record solutions.

Frequent internal status updates measured how completion times were tracking to schedule (e.g. Are we ahead or behind on this conversion? Do we need to add or delete a step?) noting how many hours are needed to ensure advance notice for readiness and proper hand-offs between teams.

A similar announcement process will be in place during the actual cutover events for communications and collaboration with college/agency SME validators.

DG3 and DG4 Go-Live Dates

The ctcLink Project Management Office (PMO) began discussions with college ctcLink Project Managers (PMs) about go-live dates for Deployment Groups (DG) 3 and 4 in August. (See Aug. 2, 2019 ctcLink Connect blog post).

Schedules were updated to include all state/federal holiday periods, with key project activities planned around those dates, which shifted the go-live dates for both groups. College PMs took those discussions back to their ctcLink teams and leadership and came to agreement on the proposed schedule adjustments and the recommended dates were sent to the ctcLink Steering Committee for approval.

Deployment Group 3

The Steering Committee unanimously approved March 9, 2020 as the DG3 go-live date. For DG3, this is a three-week shift from the previously planned February 2020 deployment date.

The updated DG3 high-level timeline is on slide #10 in the Sept. 10, 2019 Steering Committee Presentation deck.

DG3 colleges: Cascadia College, Lower Columbia College, Olympic College, Peninsula College, Pierce College District (two colleges).

Deployment Group 4

Upon successful completion of its Initiation Phase Peer Review in late July, the Steering Committee reviewed the results and unanimously approved DG4 to pass through Gate 1 (Initiation Phase) to begin the Implementation Phase, with a mid-October kickoff.

The committee unanimously approved Feb. 1, 2021 as the DG4 go-live date.

The updated DG4 implementation schedule crosses two major holiday periods (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year 2019 and 2020) which moved the deployment date out several months from the previously-scheduled October/November 2020.

The updated DG4 high-level timeline is on slide #12 in the Sept. 10, 2019 Steering Committee Presentation deck.

DG4 Colleges: Centralia College, Edmonds Community College, Highline College, Seattle College District (three colleges), Wenatchee Valley College

Deployment Groups 5 and 6

At this time, there are no changes to communicate for DG5 and DG6. The ctcLink Project Management Office (PMO) will evaluate timeline overlaps (as well as project resource constraints) between DG4, DG5 and DG6.  

Duration of key ctcLink implementation activities, blackout dates for critical college business activities (e.g. key academic calendar dates, payroll dates, financial aid) and holidays are all taken into consideration. College PMs will discuss schedule scenarios with their ctcLink teams and leadership to review the implementation activities, resource constraints, blackout dates and holiday periods. These discussions will drive the optimal go-live dates for each deployment. 

The PMO expects to be able to provide DG5 and DG6 timeline impacts after the DG2 go-live and prior to the DG5 Peer Review meeting in December. During Peer Review, the college project managers and PMO team members gather for one-and-a-half to two days to assess deliverables and OCM activities to determine organizational readiness to begin the implementation phase.

While formal go-live dates are not established, it is important to note the starting date (Initiation Phase) for each deployment group has not changed.

What’s the Initiation Phase?

Initiation is the first of five gates (or phases) each deployment group steps through toward future go-live. During the Initiation Phase (approximately 12 to 16 months), each college lays the groundwork for its future Implementation Phase (approximately 12 to 16 months).

Activities include — but are not limited to   hiring a dedicated project manager (and, when possible, an organizational change management expert), begin college readiness activities (e.g. organizational change management assessments, change impact analysis, change action plan), establish local college project charter, establish local resource plan and budget (staffing, training, supplies), Legacy business process mapping, initial supplemental systems analysis (i.e. an inventory of a college’s supporting systems – such as apps, software, databases – to document Legacy data requirements, map how data is accessed from the legacy HP-UX environment, compare functionality with what’s delivered in PeopleSoft, retire systems where PeopleSoft functionality will satisfy business requirements.)

At the end of the Initiation Phase (Gate 1), the project managers of each deployment Group participate in the Gate 1 Peer Review.


Bellevue College, Bellingham Technical College, Big Bend Community College, Everett Community College, Grays Harbor College, Green River College, Skagit Valley College, Whatcom Community College

  • Initiation phase work began July 2018
  • Peer Review for implementation readiness, December 2019
  • Implementation phase begins March 2020


Bates Technical College, Clover Park Technical College, Columbia Basin College, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Renton Technical College, Shoreline Community College, South Puget Sound Community College, Walla Walla Community College, Yakima Valley College

  • Initiation phase work began March 2019
  • Peer Review for implementation phase readiness, July 2020 (estimated)
  • Implementation phase begins November 2020
Last Modified: 2/18/22, 11:55 AM
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