SCC Administrative Technology Draft

(parts of this plan are copied in part from a number of college plans)


Strategic planning is a process that seeks to clarify what an organization is, what it wants to be and how, specifically, to successfully make this transition. A strategic plan provides directions and a management strategy within the context of changing internal and external environments.

The planning approach which Shoreline has adapted includes the following steps:

  • 23535. Development of a collaborative vision of what the organization should look like in the future
  • 23536. Development of planning assumptions which detail the environment in which the organization currently exists
  • 23537. Development of key directional statements or guiding principles which should govern the decisions and actions of the organization and which are aligned with the Shoreline College Strategic Plan.
  • 23538. Development of strategies to enable the organization to move forward toward its desired goals in accordance with the key directional statements
  • 23539. Development of short, incremental action steps which can be taken to reach the goals

The Technology Committee addressed administrative issues for the Technology Strategic Plan. To give a perspective national trends and the administrative environment has been summarized:

National Trends in Higher Education

  • There is movement away from a narrow, single departmental processing perspective to global enterprise-wide processing. Traditional ownership of departmental data is giving way to enterprise wide data ownership. Standalone, single-function procedures are inadequate, as users desire more access to meaningful data owned by other departments. Global processes flow across multiple departments revealing that process failures in one department can impact another.
  • Institutions are considering a move to a client/server, distributed computing environment.
    There is a movement in higher education institutions toward a client/server, distributed computing environment. Client/server enables distributed computing resources on a network to share common resources among groups of users at intelligent workshops, usually desktop computers Client/server promotes a distributed, multi-vendor, multi protocol environment rather than centralized, proprietary traditional mainframe applications.
  • There is a proliferation of data warehousing projects.
    To meet the increasing demand for just-in-time information access and executive decision support mechanisms, many organizations are building storehouses of data specific to their needs. Ad hoc query against production databases is proving inefficient. Early decision-support systems were hardware- and software-specific, limiting commercial software offerings. However, recent advances using relational database technology have allowed data warehouse concepts to be realized. The data warehouse may reside on the central computer or be offloaded to a separate server.
  • There is a move toward decentralized administrative computing support.
  • There is movement away from a narrow, single departmental processing perspective to global enterprise-wide processing. Traditional ownership of departmental data is giving way to enterprise wide data ownership. Standalone, single-function procedures are inadequate, as users desire more access to meaningful data owned by other departments. Global processes flow across multiple departments revealing that process failures in one department can impact another.
  • Traditionally, institutions have relied heavily upon a central computing department to address all technology support issues. The changing environment requires more cooperative management efforts between the computing center and the end-user departments. There is a movement toward faster, more accurate information access by departmental personnel. Institutional departments are expressing the desire to control their data without central computing services intervention

    Departments are hiring technical resources to maintain data within the department. These departmental technical employees coordinate with central computing personnel to ensure support. This has become more evident in cases where data is distributed in a data-warehousing environment. Ad hoc reporting and simple front-end modifications are performed by these departmental employees, freeing computing services personnel to address more critical, complex issues.
  • In-house development is decreasing.
    Institutions have found that in-house software development requires significant effort and skills from both functional and technical staff. It can be difficult to marshal appropriate resources to develop applications in a timely manner. With the change to open systems and distributed computing, the challenge greatly increases. Staff must learn not only new programming languages and operating systems but new concepts and architectures as well.
  • Standardization helps to reduce user frustration and improve productive while helping to maintain costs and the need for additional staff. Non-standard configurations can require 3-4 times the normal support.
  • Training needs to be focused on the task-at-hand rather than general classes.
  • There will be an increased use of the Internet for intra-college applications.
  • The majority of costs for administrative processes are expended outside central support areas.

    Accounting costing studies have quantified administrative processing costs in higher education. These studies found that the majority of effort for administrative processes took place outside the related administrative support areas. For example, at a prestigious private Midwestern institution, the accounting studies determined that approximately 60 percent of the cost for procurement efforts were expended in academic departments. We believe that these studies are indicative of administrative processing at many institutions.

From this information, it is clear that, to make a difference in streamlining administrative processes and/or reducing related costs, efforts must be also directed at administrative processing in academic departments.

  • Higher education institutions are recognizing the value of process redesign.
    Process redesign and reengineering are more than mere buzzwords. Higher education has begun in the last several years to reconsider than manner in which it conducts its activities. Colleges and universities are suffering from higher costs and decreasing revenues. Whereas in the past little attention was given to process optimization, institutions are realizing that process streamlining can increase effectiveness and provide cost savings through efficient resource reallocation. Processes extend beyond disparate administrative support departments to include enterprise-wide functions.
  • Colleges and universities are benefiting from electronic commerce.
    In their quest to reduce paper flow, higher education institutions are increasingly making use of electronic means to exchange information between entities. Information such as unofficial transcripts and financial aid data can be transferred electronically rather than via U.S. Postal services. Institutions are using electronic data interchange (EDI) standards in transmitting orders to vendors and payments to automated clearing houses. The use of electronic commerce speeds activities and reduces processing costs.
  • Institutions are recognizing that advancements do not necessarily result in technology cost savings.
    There had been a tendency to believe that technological advances such as distributed computing, would result in cost savings in information technology. This has not proven to be true. Investment, however, may be distributed differently than in the past.
  • Institutions are recognizing the value of investing in commercially available courseware. Institutions realize they have neither the resources nor the knowledge to develop their own courseware. While it is true that there may be limited options in courseware for specialty and advanced courses, core courses, such as English, are being taught at institutions using courseware developed by third-party vendors. Institutions recognize that courseware development is complex and difficult to sustain. Just as institutions are shying away from in-house development of application software, they are avoiding re-inventing the wheel with courseware development. This is not to suggest that institutions should not develop courseware at all. Upon investigation, institutions may decide that there is no available courseware to satisfy their needs. Thus, there is some need for in-house development, but only after complete investigation of available courseware has been attempted.

Current Shoreline Administrative Technology Environment

SCC is part of a 34 statewide campus consortium supported by a central computing support organization called the Center for Information Services. This organization is responsible for supporting a legacy custom developed administrative system including the software and hardware. Support for that system is eroding in a number of ways including technology currency, adaptability, and personnel support. Attempts to purchase a more modern and "out of the box" system have failed due to the highly customized nature of the community college software and the costs of commercial packages. One estimate for changing all of the colleges totaled over 45 million dollars.

The server hardware is on the obsolescence list for HP and will be going off the support contract in April 2002. Although alternative support contracts can be written with other companies beside HP, eventually a shortage of parts for these servers will make it unwise to keep a mission critical system on the unreliable hardware. Software is written in older systems such as COBOL. Again the costs for these older software systems are becoming unbearable.

CIS is losing experience with the older hardware and software system. Some of this is due to retirements while other CIS staff leave to seek work and career development with companies using modern tools. Qualified staff are hard to find raising a real concern that we may not have support for this legacy system in the near future. It is clearly documented that newer systems and tools are more productive further motivating the community college system to move to systems, which will allow the colleges to adapt applications to our quickly changing educational environment. The legacy system is highly centralized preventing individual colleges from adapting or developing system to local campus cultures. All of these issues add urgency to finding a solution.

Over the last year another solution to the administrative technology has been suggested, that of "rehosting". Rehosting consists of rewriting and transferring existing applications with little or no loss of functionality to modern software development systems. This modern software will use a modern relational database system such as MS SQL 2000 and Windows 2000 server. It is estimated that the cost for rehosting and the new more powerful server hardware will cost less than 25% of previous attempts to purchase systems such as Peoplesoft. It is possible that the CTC System Equipment Reserve might pay for the majority of reshosting expenses. Campus administrator should make known their support on a state level for preserving the System Equipment Reserve for this purpose. Personnel for these systems are more available and can be more easily trained. A RFI for rehosting has been published and it is estimated that it will be at least two years before rehosting can begin. In consideration of national trends and college needs and the potential rehosting at CIS, a number of strategies can be suggested. Not all of these items can be accomplished. Priorities are applied to this list and can be found at the bottom of the page:

Next two years:

  • Our current HP3000, and the software should be maintained for at least the next 3 years at SCC or until rehosting becomes a reality.
  • Web applications should be developed and supported for high priority areas such as those identified in our distance learning accreditation visit for student services.
  • A plan of retraining staff to acquire the skills for a rehosted system needs to be started at least one year before rehosting starts.
  • Methods of automated workflow (forms) should be explored as alternatives to using a few hardcopy pages out of large paper reports.
  • Distributed (local) methods of tracking expenditures against budget could save significant time and improve accuracy.
  • Administrative web applications such as those in Human Resources have the capability to improve efficiency in services, storage, and staff effort.
  • User-friendly e-mail/calendaring/personal productivity systems should be developed for all faculty and staff.
  • Degree audit
  • Waitlist
  • Display monitors in key campus lobbies running real-time open/closed class lists
  • Prerequisite checking
  • Paper reduction systems
  • Budget and reporting systems
  • Online advising system
  • Financial aid (lending) is vulnerable and a new system may be needed
  • Student Identification card with picture

Three to five years:

  • Data warehousing will give near real time access to reports and the capability to manage trends at SCC.
  • Automated administrative systems should be available for night and weekend use by students, faculty and staff.
  • Monitor to show changed classes, full, and new classes
  • Rehosting administrative system

Committee Prioritizations:

  1. Rehosting will move function of our administrative system on the HP3000 to a modern platform that will give us better access, uptime, flexibility and the ability to develop new application that were not possible with the hardware and procedures on the HP3000. This is an essential base on which all other initiatives can be built.
  2. Student Systems will improve the student experience at SCC and help to attract and retain students. Examples are:
    • Web enabled system
    • Online advising
    • Waitlist
    • Student picture ID
    • Degree audit
  3. Administrative Systems will help SCC to be more effective and efficient. Examples are:
    • Automated Work Flow
    • Paper reduction (digital delivery of reports)
    • Administrative web applications (online HR database)
    • Automated system available for night and weekends