ctcLink Support Scales Up to Serve Colleges
By this time next year, all of Washington state’s community and technical colleges and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) agency expect to be fully implemented (live) on ctcLink PeopleSoft.
The ctcLink Support organization — whose primary role is to support, stabilize and work toward optimizing the ctcLink system — is scaling up as the ctcLink Project completes its final implementation activities in partnership with ctcLink Deployment Groups 5 and 6.
To prepare for this final year of ctcLink implementation and transition to support, the nine-member Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges approved the funding model for 36 new positions for the ctcLink Project and Customer Support and Service Plan (State Board Resolution 21-06-36 and 21-06-37, Tab 6, pp. 203-207) during its June 24, 2021 meeting.
During the State Board meeting, Christy Campbell, ctcLink Program Director/Chief Technology Officer, presented an overview of the current project status, giving an overview of the difficult 2015 deployment and subsequent re-planning and Project relaunch since 2017.
Due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, implementation activities and go-live weekends have been conducted remotely, beginning with DG3-B colleges in March 2020.
Campbell noted that other complex ERP transition projects scheduled to go-live during the pandemic pressed pause. “Deploying ctcLink is complex and never easy, but doing it entirely remote is a huge task,” Campbell said, praising the colleges for their fortitude in continuing to move through the countless activities. “I am so proud of how the colleges and SBCTC met the challenge.”
Jan Yoshiwara, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Executive Director, described the need for a robust support organization, “We are moving from a home-grown Legacy system — where the colleges have been able to customize it themselves with their own programmers and IT staff — to a system that is a commercial product that the State Board IT staff manages on behalf of the colleges.”
While colleges have local ctcLink configurations and security settings they control, some changes that individual colleges want require direct ctcLink Support.
“Colleges will have less ability to customize to their own individual needs and preferences,” Yoshiwara explained. “If they have challenges using the system or pulling data to meet local needs, they are more dependent on ctcLink Support to help solve problems.”
The new funding will allow the support model to be fully implemented. SBCTC reviewed past practices and what has worked well to inform this expanded ctcLink support organizational structure and capacity. The agency plans to evaluate staffing levels and structure after it has been in place one full year.
ctcLink Support Growth
Since all 34 colleges will soon be live on ctcLink, when the 36 new positions are onboarded, ctcLink Support will comprise 92 staff. This level of support is comparable to the Legacy system support levels of 2008, but somewhat less than the early days of Legacy support when staffing levels hovered around 120. SBCTC hopes to retain the expertise of many ctcLink Project implementation team members in the support roles.
As each group of deployed colleges goes live in ctcLink, they will rely on the ctcLink Support organization which includes:
- ctcLink Customer Support
- ctcLink functional support for the Finance (FIN), Human Capital Management (HCM), Campus Solutions (CS) Core, and CS Student Financial/Financial Aid pillars
- ctcLink Training (post go-live)
- ctcLink Security (roles/permissions post go-live)
- Application Services
- Technical/operational support, development, application upgrades, environment/hardware support, technical application security support, production testing.
- Third-party application support such as HighPoint HCX mobile, Online Admissions Application Portal (OAAP) and CampusCE.
- Data Services
- Data Integration & dataLink, Data Warehouse, ctcLink PeopleSoft Reporting, Query training
Support Continues to Evolve
In addition to the new structure and added capacity, the SBCTC ctcLink Support organization continuously adjusts based on “lessons learned” to improve how it can serve the colleges more effectively. Below are just a few examples:
- The functional and technical support teams spend the first two weeks post go-live walking the college teams through how to do their work in ctcLink with hands-on guidance in critical topics such as Verify HR and Payroll Status; Records and Enrollment; Dual Processing Jobset and Legacy Job Outcomes; Tuition Calculation, Waivers, and Queries; Travel and Expenses; and Cross-pillar Integration.
- ctcLink Customer Support holds weekly pillar or module-specific workshops for all colleges live on ctcLink; many of these are hosted by colleges to share their best practices. These workshops build knowledge and community among the colleges using ctcLink.
- SBCTC hosts monthly Accessibility & ctcLink Open Forums to engage Washington's community and technical college system in discussions around ctcLink accessibility and technology. Meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month, 11 a.m. to noon.
- The ctcLink Service Level Agreement and Standard Operating Procedures are being reworked to reflect the centralized support organizational model.