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Lessons Learned

Team Approach
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.

IS 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 permanently!

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.

Internal Marketing
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.