Clark College Shares ctcLink Lessons Learned
When Clark College and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) agency went live on ctcLink PeopleSoft as part of Deployment Group 2 (DG2) at the end of October, their work was just beginning.
Susan Maxwell, Clark College ctcLink Project Director, and Shanda Haluapo, Clark College Associate Vice President of Planning and Effectiveness and ctcLink Executive Sponsor, shared the following perspectives during recent project manager meetings, Lessons Learned correspondence, and ctcLink Steering Committee meetings.
Business Process Mapping: Understand the “Before” to Get Ready for the “After”
Shanda expressed how important it is for colleges to map their current business processes and workflows from start to end (referred to as a “value chain”) in Legacy and other software.
College “business processes” include transactions involving every corner of the organization, including academic and instructional, course schedules and catalogs, student grades and records, faculty workload, advising, financial aid, enrollment management, facilities and inventory management, billing, purchasing, grants, institutional research, human resources, vacation and sick leave, and more.
She said Clark College thought it was doing a good job with business process mapping. What they did not do was fully document all the workflows and this was apparent on Day One. Shanda has heard some leaders question the need for each college to map its current business processes, but she assures colleges it is absolutely critical for each college to do this.
They are finding that more than half of Clark’s issues involve organizational change management issues and how local business processes are integrated across multiple departments.
“Colleges have to invest in mapping their business processes within ctcLink, so that when they do go live, staff don’t feel frustrated or in the dark, feeling like a victim that ctcLink was just put on them with no preparation.” —Shanda Haluapo, Clark College Associate Vice President of Planning and Effectiveness and ctcLink Executive Sponsor
She said the Business Analyst positions recommended in the College Roles, Departmental Dependencies & Organizational Alignment document are critical, and the sooner colleges can fill those roles with new or existing staff, the better. Those analysts can work with all the different areas [on campus] to map the business processes and what they will look like in ctcLink PeopleSoft, so that frontline staff - whether enrollment services, financial aid, human resources, or business office - have the documentation and understanding of what they need to do from Day One.
Colleges should determine how their business processes will change due to the new system and its capabilities. Staff will need to learn how to use ctcLink and understand changes from the way they used to do things.
Shanda said DG3, DG4, DG5 and DG6 will have the benefit — that Clark College did not — of the ability to test full business processes end-to-end within ctcLink PeopleSoft. While this will help, it does not take away the necessity for the business analysts long-term.
Shanda said Clark College was unable to hire a business analyst in a timely manner, because budget was not allocated in time. Clark is not alone in in this dilemma.
Business analyst bootcamp
In an attempt to mitigate college resource constraints, ctcLink project management is working with a vendor to deliver Business Analyst training (bootcamp style, with one week each for HCM, Finance, Campus Solutions) to DG3 colleges in April.
After that, the ctcLink Training team would recreate the training for future quarterly or bi-annual delivery. This is not PeopleSoft training; these skills are technical and analytical, such as developing queries, troubleshooting, process modeling, business process improvement.
Shanda said people can learn PeopleSoft, but the more important skill is business analysis, the ability to audit existing business processes and then identify solutions within the available tools.
She advises that if a college expects pillar leads (or others who already have full-time-plus jobs) to take on the Business Analyst role, they will not succeed long-term, as they are already occupied with implementation work and their current jobs.
Organizational Change Management: It’s the People
Shanda said the “human” part of organizational change management — the people side of things — is the most important, but also the most challenging part of the ctcLink Project; not just implementing ctcLink PeopleSoft. To deliver services in the future, we need PeopleSoft to work; which is challenging, because of staff and budget cuts.
You cannot underestimate the impact of organizational change and the emotional toll on people who can’t do their jobs because they don’t have the correct ctcLink role access. It’s essential the entire campus go through its business process mapping — to understand each task’s pathway in terms of learning new processes — to avoid the frustration of people not able to do their jobs successfully at go-live. — Sandra Fowler-Hill, Clark College Interim President, to colleagues during December 2019 WACTC presidents meeting
- The biggest issue Clark employees experienced was learning a new system. Because they did not have the correct security/access levels assigned during user acceptance testing (UAT), they were unable to test the system as if they were really working, so they are learning the system processes from start to end in real time.
- OCM was important during go-live week, but Clark did not have anyone dedicated to this. The executive sponsor did some OCM work, along with staff from other colleges, but Clark did not really have an OCM go-live plan.
- Executive Cabinet members were expected to support staff, but we didn’t give them specifics. This could be improved.
Plan for Joy
A wagon full of puppies can bring the stress level down considerably!
Office Closures: Roll Out Slow
Shanda shared how their project team rolled out the ctcLink system to employee groups at the college. The college did not cancel classes, but closed any offices that touched the Legacy system (FMS, SMS, PPMS) until Thursday the first week after go-live to help with the transition and roll-out to users.
- ctcLink system was opened to about 200 staff on the first day (Monday, Oct. 28)
- ctcLink was opened for the rest of staff and faculty on Tuesday.
- The system was open for students on Thursday.
This methodology helped the team have capacity to help everyone having issues, because the number of people using the system were added incrementally.
Shanda suggests colleges close their offices (e.g. student services, business, human resources) during go-live activities. If people had been loading new transactions on Monday and Tuesday, she said Clark staff wouldn’t have been able to isolate and troubleshoot issues.
Student Affairs staff felt closing offices for the entire week would be better than only closing for two days. It may be possible to coordinate which areas need to be closed. For example, until cleanup was completed for student finance, the Student Affairs office could not do any transactions related to finance. Having a better idea of the order that things need to happen across the college would be helpful.
It’s Your Data
Shanda said colleges and executive sponsors need to understand that the local data and the business processes for that data are owned by the colleges, not SBCTC.
One of their departments thought their data errors should be fixed by the ctcLink Project, but Shanda said colleges need to be the ones figuring out the system and making sure there is “data ownership.”
On the Ground for Go-Live
Susan Maxwell and the Clark College SMEs also shared some key tips for success.
- Make sure every active employee has a “supervisor” in the system before you go live. This will help ensure the workflow is set so supervisors can approve leave, travel and purchases.
- The Thursday and Friday before your Go-Live will be filled with lots of questions and things to research from SBCTC. Make sure people have time to address these issues, meaning these would be poor days to schedule trainings/meetings – you need to be available.
Set up a triage room
- Designate a “receptionist” for the triage room. Have people sign in, document the issue, then find someone who can help them. Would be best if this person is not the PM, who is addressing security/access and other issues.
- Use a sign-in process to capture requests. Some people came to the triage room, some submitted tickets, some emailed the project manager directly (and those just got lost).
- People don’t know what roles they need, or if it is a Student Administration and Contributor Relations (SACR) issue, so they bring you a printout of a screen they need to see.
- We did a good job educating people about breadcrumbs and navigation, so many people brought that information to the triage room for troubleshooting.
- Establish a plan for changing employees’ ctcLink access roles
- Have a printer available wherever you are doing role assignments, or maybe additional monitors. On a laptop alone is difficult.
Topic-specific open labs
- Open labs for timesheets worked well. We could have used more of these specific labs; however, the staff who know enough to run them are too busy to do so.
- Determine which other resources can be used. Staff from other colleges were very helpful in this aspect, once they knew what they were doing.
- Transitional Studies brought classes into the lab to get students to activate their accounts. This worked well, but is a very time-consuming process. They created a worksheet for students to fill out all their security questions, have their student ID numbers ready, etc. That worked great. We needed more of these sessions and more people to help.
Campus-wide and Executive Communications
- In the months leading up to go-live, Shanda, as executive sponsor, sent biweekly all-staff messages regarding the latest ctcLink activities, what to expect and when, and thanking key players along the way.
- Clark College’s interim president included ctcLink in weekly messages to the college and helped raise awareness. She was in attendance on go-live Sunday and sponsored a late lunch.
- The president checked in all week and sent appreciation emails to staff. The Clark ctcLink Steering Team was recognized at the Board of Trustees meeting.