The thoughtful formation of project teams helped expedite community buy-in.
New teams need to be developed and coordinated on a regular basis as technology
and procedures change over time. Teams need to be sponsored and supported
by senior leadership.
Forthright leadership from the IS department was a critical factor in
assuring project success. IS staff and administrators may need to overstep
their traditional boundaries and offer special assistance to some departments
in order to prevent project momentum from flagging. In the same vein,
IS should have a clearly defined exit strategy from these extra-departmental
duties. This will include training for appropriate departments and a well
publicized timeline for transferring responsibility to permanent owners
once they are confident with the systems.
Prepare for the Impact
Implementing a campus portal is a revolutionary undertaking that will
reshape your institution. Expect a big splash and be ready to ride the
waves. There are few administrative or academic components at NSCC that
have not had to make changes. Resources temporarily assigned to this project
may need to be involved longer than you think... some may need to be reassigned
Training is critical. If people don't know how to use it, they won't.
Training is needed for all parties... students, faculty, staff. Videos
and PDF documents made self-service training possible and helped ease
the burden on a limited staff.
Pilots... Pilots... Pilots
Always test first and do it in a real environment. There is a clear difference
between a handful of students in a controlled setting and hundreds of
students in a live registration.
You may be tempted to rest after initial success. Don't do it. Be persistent
and solicit visible involvement from key internal constituents. Use faculty
and academic representatives to do the presentations to other faculty.
Do surveys to test your assumptions and back up your initiatives. We did
surveys to (1) gauge whether students would be receptive to this type
of tool (2) gauge faculty/staff/student receptiveness to idea of a portal
and services that could be provided though it (3) gauge the depth to which
the portal was being used after initial release.
Define reporting and data requirements up front... you may have to modify
existing reports to account for additional validation codes. If you let
yourself become so consumed with making the tools work that you let this
slip, you may find yourself scrambling when enrollment data is due.
Be prepared for the many dependencies associated with upgrading your core
database to receive the campus portal. We had to go through fourteen upgrades
when we thought there were only five.