Minutes - August 4, 2006
Present: Allen Berger, Tracy Bigney, Janet Boucouvalas, Dick Campbell, Ralph Caruso, Peggy Crawford, Sue Hunter, Dick Kimball, Eddie Meisner, Cindy Mitchell, John Murphy, Sharon Nadeau, Tom Potter, Laurie Pruett, Rosa Redonnett, Janet Waldron, Bill Wells, Joanne Yestramski, Darren-Michael Yocum.
Financial Aid planning.
Cindy and Peggy met with the financial aid directors numerous times in the past two weeks. All financial aid directors were involved in creation of the document “Advancing Financial Aid Implementation to January 2008 for 2008-09 Award Year,” which outlines the opportunities and the challenges faced in this endeavor. Peggy stressed that whatever decision is made, the financial aid community is 100% behind making the implementation successful.
Peggy said that the financial aid directors and campus administrators are in agreement on the dollar figures cited in the document regarding personnel, backfill of positions, and travel expenses for IDP sessions.
She also noted a particular item of concern from the financial aid perspective with regard to a 2008 go-live: new federal programs that were implemented effective July 2006, for which all information is not yet available.
The financial aid directors expressed concerns about multiple ongoing initiatives—some campus-related, and some resulting from the Strategic Plan. How much can actually be done for this implementation in a short time, and how many people can be dedicated to this?
Allen expressed thanks for the report, and gratitude for the dedication, hard work, and soul-searching done by those whom Peggy represents.
Cindy and Darren-Michael said that best practices dictate that financial aid ought to be implemented in 2008, along with Student Records and Student Financials. The financial implications of waiting until 2009 are not small; the impact of the interface that will be required for that year is hard to define, especially in terms of risk and effort. However, a sound implementation will require 15 to 18 months of preparation. If we begin in late September, that allows only 15 months—no flexibility if we should fall behind.
Cindy stressed that if 2008 is chosen there must be commitment by all involved to successfully hit the target date.
Discussion included these observations:
An increase in the project budget will need to be approved in the next couple of months. There have been scope changes, deadline slippage, and additional implementation costs. (Joanne)
Financial aid directors have total confidence in Wolfpack; have been dealing with this company for 10-15 years; it is a strong, stable company. (Peggy and John)
The risk of the interface (customization, etc.) outweighs the risk of advancing the implementation date. (Janet W.)
Testing of the interface will probably be the most significant and most time-intensive activity for the functional people, and will probably consume two people on technical side. This interface will not have real time capability. It will be an expensive undertaking for its one year. (Cindy)
A different model for IDP sessions is being developed, which will require less time in Bangor and allow more time on campus. (Darren-Michael)
The need for backfill in student services is very real. We are at risk of suffering in the quality of service we provide to our students. (Allen)
Is the current mainframe nearing the end of its five-year life? (Bill W.) IBM could issue a “de-support” notice on it at any time. (Cindy)
It is possible that resources could be reallocated from the old mainframe when it is no longer in service. Joanne will work with campus chief financial officers to identify sources of funds for redeployment. (Joanne)
The decision should be based on risk avoidance, not money. (Joanne)
There are audit issues with increased exposure. We need to monitor from an auditing perspective as we implement. (Janet W. and Joanne)
We need to eliminate conflicting demands on time and resources wherever possible so staff can focus on this. This requires support from chancellor and presidents. How do we communicate the importance of this? (Dick C. and Joanne)
At the conclusion of the discussion, the Steering Committee agreed to support the earlier, 2008 date for Financial Aid. No conditions should be attached to the decision, but a communication to the presidents and financial aid officers (and others) should state:
- We cannot afford other major initiatives to interfere.
- We need the monetary savings that would likely come from this earlier start date to be invested in back-fill personnel to assure maintenance of high quality customer service (with flexibility in allocation across the areas affected by IDP according to campus needs).
- We need to assure ongoing compliance and effective controls re laws and regulations related to financial aid programs.
Also communicated should be the reasons why the earlier date was selected, and why waiting doesn’t work. The presidents meet on August 24 and will want to review and discuss this.
The Steering Committee will continue to monitor progress toward go-live, and will review a back-up plan as well. Early checkpoints will be needed in order to be sure that all involved agree to the schedule.
Admissions and Campus Community Go-Live.
Darren-Michael reported that the implementation process went very smoothly, with only minor security issues, all of which have been resolved this week. Most concerns are with the way name and address data have been conformed in ISIS. Training will be scheduled for suspense file managers in the next few weeks.
People are just now beginning to see impacts of decisions that were made and trying to get their heads around what they are seeing.
The Steering Committee expressed its appreciation to Cindy, Darren-Michael, and their entire staff.
Cindy noted that she had sent an email last week with the status of CRM. We have experienced an inordinate amount of technical difficulty with this implementation, and are working with Oracle to determine next steps. Cindy will continue to provide updates on the situation.
Cindy reported that in validating the database for the HR upgrade, it was discovered that tables were missing and data corrupted. Given this, the October 10 deadline cannot be met. The consuming demands of Campus Solutions meant few resources to commit to the HR upgrade; now that the CS implementation is past, some resources are being freed to work on HR. Cindy will continue to work with Tracy B. and her team to determine the next best date.
Shared Processing Center Update.
Laurie said that Loan Processing began operations in the Center on July 21. Jolynn Campbell and her staff have worked hard to quickly settle in. The facility renovation is complete; remaining modular workstations will be installed later in August. Janet B. is now working to hire data processing coordinators and an AA2. One candidate has withdrawn, fearful that administrative changes will mean plans for the Center will change. This is a concern to Jon and Laurie.
Jon will move to the Center on August 9. CDMART meets on August 8 and on August 21 will have ImageNow training. By Labor Day a letter will be sent to all high school guidance offices in Maine. Ralph will discuss governance issues with Jon and Laurie. Jon recognized the help that has been provided by Sarah Doheny, a graduate assistant at UMaine.
Steering Committee and governance structure.
Ralph will provide recommendations to the Sponsors, and then to the Steering Committee, by mid-August. The Steering Committee will continue to meet monthly with the next meeting after Labor Day. Allen will send out possible dates.
The meeting was adjourned.
Eddie Meisner, Recorder