Colleges Learn and Lead Together During Virtual ctcLink Summit
More than 70 ctcLink project managers (PM), organizational change managers (OCM), and ctcLink executive sponsors (ES), representing all 30 community and technical college districts, gathered during a virtual ctcLink Executive Sponsor and Project Manager Summit on May 21, 2021 to learn about the ctcLink Project through a leadership lens.
Most important, the colleges learned the most from each other, with those already live on ctcLink sharing lessons learned, their hopes for the future of ctcLink, change management techniques, and building connections with their peers.
Jan Yoshiwara, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Executive Director and ctcLink Project Executive Sponsor, welcomed everyone to the Summit, acknowledging the progress made to transition ctcLink and recognized Christy Campbell and Grant Rodeheaver for their leadership.
Christy Campbell, Chief Information Officer, ctcLink Project, and Tim Wrye, Highline College Chief Information Officer, Highline’s ctcLink Executive Sponsor, and SBCTC ctcLink Project Steering Committee chair, shared highlights of the ctcLink journey to date.
Colleges delivered a clear message about the need for regular, meaningful interactions with one another and the SBCTC ctcLink Support teams to build the functionality of ctcLink.
How Far We Have Come
- The strategy of the ctcLink project implementation was completely redesigned and restarted after the First Link colleges, Community Colleges of Spokane and Tacoma Community College, went live. With the new ctcLink conversion strategy, half of the colleges are live on ctcLink and the other half will be live within the next year.
- ctcLink is one system for all of Washington state’s 34 community and technical colleges. This means one global design for all colleges, which depends largely on consistent business processes across the college system.
- The ctcLink go-live conversion process works. One of the biggest issues at go-live is deciphering whether something is not working or whether the user does not know how to use it. Training and support are critical necessities to prepare and conduct the work related to stabilization.
- ctcLink works. ctcLink works in new ways and is also a work in progress.
- There is no evidence to suggest that the enrollment decline was greater for DG3 colleges in fall 2020 (14.6% decline). All colleges had major declines in the fall (15.2% decline among all other colleges).
- ctcLink is a work in progress; collectively the state is making improvements in accessibility, finance modules, and more.
- Colleges can and should rely on the experiences and support of other colleges and the ctcLink Support resources.
We had almost 40 years to create process improvements around Legacy. We need to focus and continue to work together as a consortium with patience and persistence to improve ctcLink in the same manner. As more colleges go-live on ctcLink, we can engage together and prioritize the work to further develop and improve ctcLink for our state’s students and college communities. ~ Jason Hetterle, Wenatchee Valley College PM and Director of Technology and Enterprise Solutions
During the Summit, participants broke out in small groups to discuss lessons learned and best practice advice for go-live. Each group offered similar themes, such as:
- Rumors are a real thing. Be sure to have a plan to address rumors and not let them fuel change-resistance.
- Engage with colleagues from other colleges already live on ctcLink to ask questions and get advice.
- Develop post go-live stabilization plans prior to go-live.
- Continue your change management strategies after going live on ctcLink.
- Invest and engage in training.
- Meter the delivery of information to avoid overwhelming staff.
- Celebrate milestones and achievement. Acknowledge hard work.
- Pay attention to the financial aid department and the burden of dual processing.
- It is a tumultuous journey; but the progress and the teamwork are worth it!
A project of this size, involving all colleges and all business pillars — during a PANDEMIC, no less — has never been done before. We are making history. Give yourself a break and recognize the hard work you are doing. ~ Pat Daniels, Highline College PM, Associate Director and DCIO, Information Technology Services
Colleges showcased exemplary examples of ADKAR strategies. ADKAR is Prosci©’s acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, a research-based model based on the understanding that organizational change can only happen when individuals change. Prosci© finds that these five attributes are necessary for individuals to change and adopt a transformational change.
Several PMs presented best practices from their colleges:
Joe Chiappa, Shoreline Community College PM, showcased videos Shoreline uses to build Awareness of the ctcLink project. Shoreline’s ctcLink Update Spring 2021 notes that the HP Legacy system was born in the era of typewriters and three-part carbon forms.
Daniel Cordas, Seattle Colleges PM, presented Seattle Colleges’ easy-to-navigate and intuitive ctcLink website design to make sure the colleges’ communities had easy access to the right information.
Mirranda Saari, Clark College Associate Dean and Campus Solution Pillar Lead, described how she built the Desire amongst her team to transition to ctcLink.
Rich Lunden, Olympic College PM, showed the strategies and positive impact the faculty Change Agent Network (CAN) had on transitioning to ctcLink at Olympic.
Brandon Reed, SBCTC ctcLink Support Services trainer, walked through the many components of ctcLink training offered and its importance to the overall project.
Tara Keen, ctcLink Assistant Project Director and Solution Architect, expressed how important participation in data validation and user acceptance testing (UAT) are to developing the ability to use ctcLink after go-live.
Jason Hetterle, Wenatchee Valley College PM, shared his college’s experience with using training, data validation, UAT, and making sure the right people were involved in the preparing-to-go-live activities to developing the college’s ability to use ctcLink.
Saari featured functionality unique to ctcLink that Clark uses to improve student success strategies. She also highlighted the importance and effectiveness of colleges working together to further develop common business processes that optimize the use of ctcLink for each college and the system.
Participants shared different ways they celebrated and rewarded the hard work related to ctcLink. Examples included handwritten thank-you notes, mailing cookies with the ctcLink logo, Zoom parties, awards, care packages, and public recognition.
During small group discussions, colleges learned best strategies for executive sponsors, project manager, and other college leaders to work together to lead the ctcLink project through stabilization at their college.
Carrie Powell offered leadership highlights:
- Provide active, visible sponsorship. A massive institutional change like this requires strong leaders with the ability to allocate resources across the organization.
- Set clear priorities. Do not bog down your people with any work that’s not absolutely mission-critical.
- Figure out how to get the transition work done at the same time SMEs are still trying to keep the college running.
- Hire help. Get business analysts on board early, bring new people into FIN and SF so they can learn PeopleSoft functionality while others maintain the Legacy processes.
- Support the people. Pay attention to what your directors and Pillar Leads need, and provide it to the full extent of your ability. Work your butt off. They will be doing the same thing, and they need to trust that you have their backs and understand what they are going through.
- Offer assistance for those who are eligible to retire. If employees do not have sufficient motivation to go through the change, allow them to leave gracefully.
- Empower your SMEs. Give them avenues to communicate, share, and resolve issues.
- Do your best. Know that users of the system will not understand how anything really works until they are actually using it.
This ctcLink Summit is likely the last of its kind as the ctcLink project will come to a close within the next year. That doesn’t mean that the work will stop; the work just changes.
To find out more, browse the Virtual Summit resources and materials.