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ISP News
September 2001

Formal Stabilization Period Draws to Close
September 30 marks the end of the formal stabilization period for Phase 1 of the ISP, though we all know the calendar doesn't dictate when things are running smoothly, and we are continuing to monitor, troubleshoot, and improve the new system.

Some things will change on October 1, however. Many ISP team members will depart for new jobs or return to the departments that sponsored them on the project. The new Division of Training in University Human Resources will assume full responsibility for all Oracle training, Integrated System Customer Support Center staffing, as well as Oracle responsibility and workflow assignment processing. Other responsibilities are slowly shifting to other offices.

"These shifts in responsibility will allow the Integrated System Application Support Center (ASC) staff to work on software issues to make certain the system is performing as it is intended to perform, and to make changes to the system where it can better meet the needs of the University," says Bill Randolph, ISP director.

"More and more, Oracle users are finding their way, making fewer mistakes," attests Shy Hicks, ASC director. "We are learning what may not have been stressed strongly enough in training, and are communicating that directly to users with particular Oracle responsibilities and to Customer Support Center staff to head off difficulties. We know we have much to do to continue to stabilize both the system and how people use the system, but it is now possible to look forward to enhancing how it works for us."

If Only Oracle Could…
From day one, University users of the Integrated System have been providing valuable input on how the Oracle system could better meet their needs. Suggestions range from changing a field to creating a report. Some have been changes required for State compliance. Others would just make work easier.

"The changes proposed have been thoughtful and constructive," says Bill Randolph, ISP director. "We have been keeping track of them, waiting for the time and resources to implement them. With that time approaching, but with limited staffing to make changes while at the same time maintaining the system, we have put in place procedures for proposing and prioritizing changes to the Oracle system."

An Applications Management Board (AMB) has been established to receive, review, and prioritize proposed changes.

Essentially, individuals wishing to suggest a change to the Oracle applications submit an AMB Change Request Form to a member of the AMB for sponsorship. That member will bring the request to the full board for discussion along with all other requests. Priorities will be set so that, when resources become available, the ASC will know in what order to add change requests to their work plan. Please see the detailed Oracle change request rules and procedures for more information.

"We encourage users to continue to consider how the system can ease their work, since that was the University's initial goal in implementing the Oracle system," says Randolph. "Please keep in mind, however, that every change requires resources, and ours are finite. We are hopeful that the rules put in place will allow us to identify and meet the highest impact requests. We will continue to hold a very firm line on software modifications, but there are other ways to meet users' needs without jeopardizing our ability to upgrade the Oracle applications to the next released version, such as 11i."

Try, Try Again
"I called the Customer Support Center with a problem. They said they knew about it, and the Applications Support Center was working to resolve it. How do I know when it gets fixed?"

Sometimes people ask this question; other times they just think it. In fact, the ASC is working with Oracle to fix problems all the time, applying "patches" that improve the functioning of the software. Sometimes these patches correct multiple problems at once, some of which users didn't even know were problems.

"If these fixes are big and affect a large number of users, we either send out a targeted email message or put it on our current news pop-up webpage," says Callen Molenda, ASC staff member. "However, many patches correct a number of smaller problems peripherally related to the big fix."

As a result, the ASC suggests that you try again, on a weekly basis, to do what you couldn't do before. It may be fixed. And if not, register your concern again with the Customer Support Center at 243-7550, so the ASC is kept aware that people are still having the problem.

Countdown for OTA
Few people will notice, but a new Oracle application goes live on November 1 that will be used by many people at the University. The Oracle Training Administration (OTA) application will replace OTIS as the on-line registration program for Oracle training. It will also, in time, be used to register on-line for almost all training that takes place at the University.

"We are working toward a November 1 implementation date so all Phase 2 training scheduling and registration can take place using OTA," notes John Hill, OTA team lead. "The only differences to people registering for Oracle training will be the instructions they receive in the email that will notify them to go on-line to register, and they will have to enter a user ID and password."

HR/Payroll Gap Court In Session
Hear ye, hear ye. This is the week decisions will be made regarding which "gaps" between Oracle basic functionality and University hopes for functionality will be met for the Human Resources Management System (HRMS) and Payroll applications.

"Our 'to-be' documentation enumerated the things we would like the new system to do," says Barbara Henry, Phase 2 functional lead. "Some of those items are University requirements, and if there are gaps, we will either modify the software or identify workarounds to accomplish them. Others are preferences. Whether we fill gaps in preferences will depend on how many people will be impacted and what resources are required to fill the gap."

The good news in these applications, in contrast to the finance applications, is built-in flexibility, according to Henry. "Oracle allows almost 100-fold more opportunity to configure the software for our own purposes in HRMS and Payroll than in the finance modules," she says. "There are many areas and fields in which we can capture whatever information we want, and there are processes called Fast Formulas that will allow us to calculate and configure information to suit our individual needs. This flexibility will allow us to fill gaps without modifying the Oracle software, a fact that will definitely ease the path through gap court."

Two to Help Departments Benefit from HR/Payroll
Tonja Moore, on loan from the School of Medicine, and Tracy Pettit, previously from the Center for the Liberal Arts, have joined the HR/Payroll team to help identify departmental, school, and Provost's office information needs that could be handled in Oracle, thus eliminating the need to create and maintain shadow systems that store faculty information.

"Departments do an enormous amount of double entry in their faculty hiring," says Barbara Henry, Phase 2 functional lead. "We are thrilled to have Tonja's and Tracy's expertise to help us capture that information and save time and effort for the departments wherever possible."

Working Toward Windows 2000 Compatibility
A detour sign went up on the road to Windows 2000 compatibility. The small print says, "Upgrade Oracle database first." This is in addition to requiring a different Jinitiator, says Teresa Wimmer, ISP technical lead. However, she adds, "While upgrading and testing the database will delay us somewhat, we intend to have the Oracle applications compatible with the Windows 2000 before the end of the year."

Go to ARCHIVED ISP NEWS DIRECTORY


ISP NEWS FROM OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Inside UVA
March 30, 2001
virginia.edu
Spring 2001
virginia.edu
Fall 2000
Cavalier Daily
September 28, 2000
Inside UVA
September 22, 2000

 


"The good news in the HR/Payroll applications is their built-in flexibility."

 
 
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