About the project
Washington State University’s current core student information systems (SIS) that serve all its campuses and distance degree programs remain a substantial risk to the WSU community as they are aging, crippled, and failing putting in jeopardy university functions for students including admissions, registration, financial aid, advising, transcripts and collection of tuition. These systems are based on 1970’s technology and are no longer able to provide the level of service required to adequately serve the growing needs of students, faculty, staff, support personnel, the public and the State of Washington.
While old, the core student systems are complex and essential to the university’s basic operation. These systems require an extraordinary amount of maintenance and re-programming compared to modern, “off-the-shelf” systems available through vendors who specialize in these services. WSU has over sixty external systems, most of which have been developed in-house and are linked to these core student systems. These systems require considerable maintenance of software interfaces to ensure accurate and synchronized data transfers. The archaic nature of the core student systems places them at risk for prolonged period of shutdown.
On November 8, 2007, WSU President Elson S. Floyd and CIO Viji Murali presented the urgency of replacing the student systems to the Information Services Board (ISB).
On October 17, 2008, the Office of Financial Management approved the financial components of a new student system.
WSU subsequently hired a nationally recognized professional consultant to evaluate the current student systems and the full report of the feasibility study including the recommendation of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and University (NWCCU) were provided to the Information Services Board (ISB) at the October 8, 2009 meeting.
On October 9, 2009, the WSU Board of Regents approved the funding to replace the existing core student information systems.
On November 12, 2009, the Information Services Board approved WSU’s Core Student Information Systems Replacement project investment plan with an estimated budget of $15 million and an estimated completion date of October 2012. The board also provided that the 2010 Supplemental Budget contain a proviso authorizing funding for this project using certificates of participation. The Board also required WSU to return to the Board prior to executing a contract with the Apparently Successful Vendor.
WSU will replace the existing core student information systems with a modern commercial suite of applications using a “vanilla” implementation strategy. WSU will collaborate with the State of Washington in the implementation of a shared solution for Financial and HR systems. The new student system will do the following:
- Replace the current proprietary student administration applications;
- Replace essential interfaces to non-Administrative Information Systems (AIS);
- Assure an interface with proprietary legacy systems where necessary;
- Implement a Portal and a Data Warehouse; and
- Ensure security, business continuity and disaster recovery capability and plans.
The SIS project will provide a single information system for the entire WSU community that allows for flexibility without customization (vanilla). The system will provide timely, consistent and reliable data for decision-making and resource planning. The main project objectives are as follows:
- Provide necessary and reliable software for managing the needs of the current students;
- Meet departmental needs for reporting and analysis;
- Provide support for institutional decision-making with regard to financial aid, enrollment, accountability measures and be able to replace current shadow systems and databases;
- Create efficiencies in maintenance and programming;
- Integrate with other systems that serve students at the university;
- Provide enhanced methods and tools to detect breaches and take appropriate and timely action;
- Include business continuity and disaster recovery mechanisms;
- Meet the following conditions:
- Provide a fully integrated solution;
- Operate under a single database system;
- Provide centralized common Data element Dictionary; and
- Provide data management oversight tools to ensure continuing data integrity and consistency.
- Identify institutions of similar size and mission to WSU with administrative systems in production that simultaneously provide centralized data reporting mechanisms, institutional flexibility, and minimal customization.
New core student systems will provide WSU students and their families the following high level functions with the necessary reliability, integration, reporting, and ease of use:
- Admit and Retain;
- Register Students (academic history and awards - transcripts, degree management);
- Plan and Predict the number of students enrolled at the institution each year;
- Identify financial aid eligibility options and award funds (including work study and student employment);
- Advise on majors, courses, and degree completions;
- Process student loans;
- Schedule classes and manage course catalogs;
- Manage student accounts (tied to registration, admission, and financial aid); and
- Provide Health and Safety alerts.
The replacement system for WSU, zzusis, will provide the following benefits:
- Efficient, effective, robust, and timely business processes and transactions;
- Accurate, consistent, and readily available data for internal planning and reporting to the state and other agencies;
- Ability to drill down into data for targeted analysis;
- Improved controls for privacy and security purposes;
- Ability to leverage newer technology for redundancy and disaster recovery;
- Self-service and personalized access to information;
- Ability to track graduation requirements;
- A seamless student experience from admission to learning to graduation through integration of applications regardless of location;
- Modern, integrated, student systems software will be more easily integrated with the State’s definition of common systems for payroll and human resources;
- Secure online personal computer access to information 24 hours per day, seven days per week;
- Easy management of course information, rosters, and grading;
- Streamlined administrative processes, reduced paperwork and increased staff productivity; and
- Ensure compliance with requirements from outside agencies including those focused on international scholars.
The zzusis project was launched in July 2010. The estimated completion date is fall 2012. The new product will be implemented in phases.