Olivia Spencer, Programme Officer, sheds light on the technology side of SAAT
As part of the transformation work and to support the new ways of working we’re bringing in a new student records system called OneUniversity. It’s an off-the-shelf solution that we’re customising to meet our requirements through a process called configuration. This will be a change from the current student records system, which has been developed in-house and grown up organically.
Where are we on the system implementation timeline?
Our focus for the last 9 months has been on Phase 1, i.e. the parts of the new student records system which will support students from application to enrolment at Sussex. The team are continuing to work hard towards the September go-live for Admissions – but don’t worry, we won’t turn it on if we’re not absolutely sure it’s safe to do so. With the rest of the system, we’re also still working to the planned programme timeline, which will mean that for most people, the functionality they’ll be getting hands-on with will start to come online from 2019.
From May to October last year the SAAT Business Analysis team investigated and mapped as-is processes, primarily relating to admissions, with colleagues around the university. In the autumn we completed a series of verification workshops, where we determined the level of configuration required to the standard “out-of-the-box” OneUniversity system to support services for applicants and arriving students at Sussex.
Following the workshops initial designs for how the system will be configured were documented and signed off by our Business Design Authority. During configuration, the Sussex team have been learning how to alter the parts of the software that don’t already meet Sussex’s requirements, and then making the alterations . For example we’ve developed custom fields and answer values for the registration form that will appear on the applicant portal, in line with the latest best practice recommendations from the Equality Challenge Unit – and will be able to change these whenever we like in the future. We’ve also been working closely with two other Universities who are implementing the same system on similar timelines. The next step will be to gain feedback on the system through the Phase 1 user acceptance testing planned for later this summer, and then re-configure where required. We’ll also be running some demos to give everyone an opportunity to view the new system (these will be advertised on the blog, but if you’d like to express early interest please contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
In line with the planned programme timeline, we’ll soon be starting work to deliver Phase 2 – that’s all the parts of the system which will support student journeys from enrolment to completion. We will be following the same broad stages as outlined for Phase 1 above, but will refine the approach to the verification workshops to enable colleagues to support SAAT more flexibly in what is likely to be a very busy year for us all.
When will we start to use the new system?
The first phase system go-live provides functionality for business processes during application to enrolment, so will only affect those involved in these. Phase 2 go-live in September 2019 is when most staff will get hands-on and begin to use the system, as this will involve everyone providing services to students from enrolment to completion of their courses.
What involvement could I have?
One of the key principles of the programme is that change won’t be imposed, but will be developed collaboratively. We’ve relied extensively on input from colleagues to ensure that the solution is fit for purpose and delivers institutional benefits, and the programme timeline has been designed to enable this level of involvement. This approach will continue in Phase 2, working towards the go-live for Enrolment to Completion in September 2019 as planned.
We’ll invite colleagues from across the University team for their input in designing the solution which will support services from enrolment to completion. This could involve working with the Business Analysis team to map as-is processes, or testing the initial configuration of the system prior to release and providing feedback. During Phase 1 our subject matter experts (SMEs) have made decisions on how the newly designed and evolving services will be supported by the new student records system. For example, in Phase 1 SMEs have determined how automated workflows will be set up for processes such as admissions referrals.
Detailed planning for the next year is currently underway and we will share more in a future post, so be sure to subscribe for the latest updates!
If you have any questions on the technical implementation that you’d like answered, please direct them to SAATprogramme@sussex.ac.uk and the team will respond.