Upgrading HR and Student Applications in 2014

It’s finally happening in 2014 — at the end of May, to be precise. That’s when a brand new version of our HR, Payroll and Student PeopleSoft applications will be available to college and department users in OHR, Payroll, Enrollment Services and the Wexner Medical Center. “PeopleSoft is the core of many of our HR and Student processes from registration and financial aid to payroll and employee self-service,” says David Kieffer, Senior Director, Enterprise Applications. “There is no question that the time is right to make a change. Traditional vendor support for our current system has already expired and Ohio State is one of the last customers on this version of the software. Upgrading is necessary to keep our data safe and it offers functionality and process benefits to many areas.” Getting started begins with engagement. We’re engaging leaders. We’re engaging subject matter experts. We have applications programmers, database administrators, project managers, change management specialists, trainers, communicators and many more working toward this goal. The technology change is important, but preparing users for the change is even more important. The idea is to go from customizing a software package to align with our processes to aligning and streamlining our processes to suit a newer version of the software. The difference is profound.  Extensive customization to the software has previously meant cumbersome maintenance and an inability to take advantage of much of the functionality we already own. Conversely, taking a more out-of-the-box version of the software will allow us to use new tools now and position us to take advantage of upgraded features in the future. And the benefits don’t end there. In addition to allowing us to use some impressive new features, completing this project will:
  • Give us an opportunity to improve some of our business processes for more efficient daily operations
  • Offer simplified system maintenance and allow more seamless integration with other PeopleSoft modules
  • Decrease the risk of unscheduled outages associated with aging hardware
  • Increase database server processing capacity and reduce annual server costs

The necessary work for getting there is well underway. First, updating the software requires both hardware and infrastructure upgrades. The technical team is also looking at other systems that interact with PeopleSoft to ensure those systems integrate properly. In addition, some non-PeopleSoft changes will also be made during the project. For example, we will be upgrading the current version of the Degree Audit System (DARS) to the new version called “u.achieve 4.0” as part of the Upgrade Project scope. From a change management prospective, we are redesigning and documenting processes to integrate smoothly with the new system. Cross-functional teams from stakeholder areas will be working during all phases of the project. OHR, Payroll, the Controller’s Office, Enrollment Services, Wexner Medical Center, as well as OCIO Infrastructure, Data Warehouse, Identity Management and IT Security all have coordinated work streams to ensure we are focused on how system changes will impact each area. The project includes several testing phases to ensure a high quality system.  Subject matter experts in each of these areas as well as from colleges and departments are being engaged as change agents. They will provide invaluable input because they have expertise in the processes and knowledge about the people that will be affected when we switch to the updated system.

You can personally have a positive impact on this project. As leaders, you can show your support by communicating project updates to your teams, enabling staff members to attend training in 2014, and sending questions and concerns to the project team.  As users, you can also raise questions and concerns to members of the project team and be sure to engage in training and change activities.  Many users will have the opportunity to assist with testing and all are encouraged to attend training next year.

This is a huge undertaking, but Ohio State has a great history of banding together to bring big projects to fruition successfully. The results will be well worth the effort!

If you have any questions about the Upgrade Project, contact Project Manager Kevin Donahoe via email or at 247-4617 or Senior Director, Enterprise Applications David Kieffer via email or at 688-4272.