New Portal to be Unveiled June 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Information Technology Shared Services (ITSS) soon will launch a simpler and more modern portal for students, faculty and staff across the UNT System.

As part of the PeopleSoft Upgrade Project, ITSS is redesigning the, and portals to ensure the portals are more suited for conducting business on mobile devices. The portals at each system campus will function similarly but each will include its own specific branding

"Our goal in everything we do is to improve our customers' experiences," said Michael Di Paolo, associate vice chancellor and the UNT System's chief information officer. "This exciting new responsive design for the portal is in response to feedback we've received from our customers. All users will find the portal more relevant and less cluttered than the current sites."

That changeover to the updated functionality and design is scheduled for the weekend of June 6-8, 2014. The work is being completed over a weekend in an effort to minimize interruptions to faculty, staff and students as the systems will be down during the changeover.

The portals will provide the same business functions as the current portals but are designed in a more logical way in order to allow users to more easily find what they are looking for with fewer clicks.

Students, for example, will find simpler access to their class schedules, account management, Blackboard Learn for their online class instruction, registration tools and more.

For faculty and staff, the portals provide access to view electronic pay stubs, determine direct deposit options, learn about benefits and more.

Additionally, faculty members can manage their classes through the portals.

Kem Marcum, the ITSS director of Finance and Administration Systems applications, said that while the portal would be the most visible piece, the PeopleSoft Upgrade Project includes many other pieces.

Marcum and project coordinators Kasandra Bell and Lauren Buchanan are working closely with Ciber Inc. consultants for the day-to-day management of the $5 million upgrade. Bell said a project steering committee, composed of leaders from the Business Service Center, Finance, Human Resources, Research, and ITSS provides executive support when needed.

The upgrade began in 2013 after lengthy discussions among the IT Governance Council, the Shared Services Council and the UNT System Board of Regents. The upgrade will ensure that all campuses continue to receive technical support from Oracle, the owner of the PeopleSoft software. The software company has released PeopleSoft version 9.2, and will stop supporting the system's current version 9.0 next year.

A larger piece of the puzzle from the technical side will be the splitting of databases that store student and employee information.

The new software will require that the Human Capital Management applications used by human resources and payroll be housed in a separate database from the student information. Currently, both sets of data are stored in the same database.

The project also includes the implementation of new software modules that will streamline the job-posting, hiring and performance review processes by integrating them with the rest of the system.

The upgrade process gave the project team a chance to review how employees use PeopleSoft now and to determine how the new version can make those tasks more efficient. The original implementation of the system was about 10 years ago. Since then, the university has upgraded only some technical aspects. However, the PeopleSoft software now allows for some functions to be done more smoothly and efficiently.

This review also will allow ITSS to minimize the number of customizations needed, therefore keeping costs low.

Marcum said ITSS has worked with students, faculty and staff on the changes, and they have been well-received so far among the users who have viewed the new software.

Timekeepers, faculty and staff will be notified by e-mail regarding training for the new PeopleSoft functions.

While the magnitude of the upgrade will necessitate an outage during the cutover to the new system, ITSS will notify those affected in as timely a manner as possible to minimize any disruptions.

After the new pieces are in place for Human Capital Management, ITSS and Ciber Inc. consultants will begin upgrading the PeopleSoft Financials system. The entire project should be complete by December 2015.