PeopleSoft upgrade to improve day-to-day operations, allow for easier access from mobile devices

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Information Technology Shared Services soon will launch a new simpler and more modern portal for students, faculty and staff as part of an upgraded version of the software that manages the human resource and payroll systems.

As part of the PeopleSoft Upgrade Project, ITSS is planning an update to the, and portals that will be more suited for mobile devices.

"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 responds to feedback we've received from our mobile users. All users will find the portal more relevant and less cluttered than the current site."

Kem Marcum, the ITSS director of the Enterprise Resource Planning applications, said that while the portal would be the most visible piece of the upgrade, the project includes many other pieces

Marcum, 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, ITSS and the UNT System provided 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 also 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 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 gives ITSS a chance to review how employees use PeopleSoft now and to determine how the new version can make those tasks more efficient. The last full upgrade to 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 will also allow ITSS to minimize the number of customizations needed, therefore keeping costs low.

Marcum said training on the new software should begin in the spring, and the changes have been well-received so far among those users who have viewed the new software.

Training will begin with some experts in the UNT System's shared services and then to the rest of the campus.

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 resources, ITSS and Ciber Inc. consultants will begin upgrading the PeopleSoft financial system. The entire project should be complete by September 2015.