ISIS: With implementation complete, problem-solving stage begins

Stabilization Project aims to bring fixes, maximize potential of powerful tools

As the first school year for the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS) – the new platform for student information and services – winds down, a new phase of the project has begun.

University Information Systems (UIS) is leading the ISIS Stabilization Project, an effort to make improvements based on feedback from users, as well as to take full advantage of the powerful system, which replaced the 20-year-old mainframe system. The old Student Information System (SIS) had grown outdated and no longer was supported by the original vendor.

Traci Saige, ISIS associate director, said the stabilization phase represents a new direction after a three-year implementation phase.

"When you go through an implementation, the questions begin with, 'How do we first upgrade? How do we first schedule classes?'" she said. "Now we're in the redefining phase, where we're asking, 'What things can we make better?' This phase is much more detail oriented and analytical."

The goal of stabilization, which will continue through early 2012, is to ensure the system is operating reliably and predictably in a user-friendly way. To that end, UIS held sessions last fall with nearly 400 users, representing offices of admissions, bursar, financial aid and registrar, as well as staff, faculty and students. They generated more than 800 comments about the system.

One of the most common complaints from students: Common pop-up blockers on web browsers prevented easy access to tuition bills on the system.

"The students spoke up very loudly," Saige said. "It was inconvenient for students and an easy fix for us." By resolving the issue in November, the complaints weren't repeated at the beginning of the spring semester.

Other problems identified from user feedback are being prioritized so that the most critical needs are addressed first.

More ISIS user feedback sessions are planned for April; campus liaisons will announce details.

"We know a lot of folks were concerned with implementation," Saige said. "What that phase has done is get them excited about technology in general: 'What if we could do this? Wouldn't it be neat?' There's a level of excitement about making their lives more efficient through being tech-savvy."

A summary of the priorities and progress for ISIS is posted here. The online report will be updated quarterly to reflect new input from system users.