A New Academic Year & A New ERP system

I can’t believe that my last blog post was more than 2 months ago! That is how busy I have been, along with all my colleagues. As I have written before, we moved several additional processes to Workday Student this summer and you can imagine how much work this is. I am happy to say that given the enormity of this transition, things went well. Most importantly, the first year students registered without any known technical issues. We now have the ability to analyze the registration process in a way that we can make changes for future registrations to make the experience less stressful for the students.

Of course, no transition of this magnitude is without problems! So, I describe some of what happened during the last couple of months below.

In July we asked a small cohort of faculty who taught one of our summer sessions to enter the grades in Workday. We held walk in sessions for the faculty to have hands on experience with several of us there. Many came by and found the task to be easy. We also found an important issue or two and fixed them! In Workday, eligibility of an instructor to teach is key to be able to do some tasks, which in turn requires that they have academic appointment. We had missed a step or two for admin staff who teach, which we resolved. But, we were stumped by one issue – a tenured faculty member could not enter grades. After some digging around, we found out that the course she taught was the only official online course but her instructor eligibility was configured only for face to face classes!

We also opened up registration for a small cohort in early August (Transfer students and Davis scholars). It went without any technical issues.

During mid-August, in collaboration with Student Life, we had prepped several of the support staff on how our first years will register in WD. Workday allows students to create a “Saved Schedule” which is their desired selection of sections to register. We stressed on the importance of it being as clean as possible, meaning, no time conflicts, no eligibility requirement violations etc. for registration to go past the initial screening that Workday does. This is a major change from the way students registered before and is an area that we will have to continue to work with students on. For those who have registered differently before, this will be an adjustment.

And out of nowhere, mid-August became very intense. Suddenly, the list of things that needed to be done grew by the hour. We had decided that from change management perspective, we will continue to support several PHP apps we had developed. All of these now needed to point to data from Workday! Imagine that.

We resolved that as quickly as possible, but it did create some confusion and discontinuity. In short, we have a “framework” for our apps. What we did was to create tables of data in MySQL that essentially mirrored what was in Banner/Oracle. Same table names, same column names etc. And our integration took care of remapping the WD data to conform to this. It took a few tries to get this right. Unfortunately, prior preparation of this went by the wayside when we began looking at the actual registration data from the initial cohorts appeared in reports we had developed.

One of the apps that took us the longest is the waitlist. We have written a waitlist program that has been operating totally outside Banner and will likely continue. It is because it is so Wellesley-specific. I won’t bore you with details, but essentially, the last mile was the issue. After a student accepts a waitlist, the student has to adjust the schedule through this app (drop a course and add the waitlisted one, swap a lab etc. etc.). And all of these actions need to be sent to the ERP.

The complications that we did not anticipate were how Workday integration handled registrations for “linked” courses (lecture/lab or lecture/discussion). We figured this out fairly quickly. And crosslisted courses are VERY different in Workday than in Banner, but we also figured out how to register the student for the right crosslisting. But…

We also have crosslisted linked courses! Enough said. We made it all work and we are in a much better place with these custom external solutions than when we began four weeks ago.  Now we are on to the next wave of things – advising, creating Spring sections, scheduling and before we know, all students will register in Workday in November! The excitement never stops!

We know that change is hard and many in the community are still adjusting and we are here to help ease the transition pains!

This is a summer when I did not play as much golf as I normally do! And when I played, my mind was not on Golf. Despite all of this, I had two of my best rounds of golf ever, so, 2019 summer is one to remember on a couple of counts!

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