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Student Services Transformation Updates

Past Admissions Updates

February 2011

Although the Admissions module technically “went live” last August, much of what was happening was behind the scenes.  This is now changing! The Offices of Admissions:  Graduate Enrollment Management Services, International and Undergraduate Admissions are all now actively using the new HUB student information system. More than 10,000 applications have been loaded to the system, several hundred have already received decisions, and automated communications and checklists are being used.  When adding together all the correspondence related to the new system, including UBIT account access notification, over 35,000 communications have been generated from HUB.

As with any new system, there is a learning curve, resulting in occasional issues and unexpected hurdles; but overall the new system is working well and providing applicants with up-to-date information.

Beginning in February, Undergraduate Admissions and International Admissions will start processing Transfer Student applications in HUB; and there are two things of which UB faculty and staff should be aware. First, Advising reports (commonly referred to as Degree Audit Reports or DARS) will be created and generated through HUB and paper copies will no longer be sent to academic departments and/or advisors. The electronic version of the advising reports (showing transfer courses, transfer grades, and articulations among many other items) will be available online in HUB. Advisors will need to be familiar with HUB and how to access and view those reports online. 

In addition, we know that some departments run queries against InfoSource throughout the admissions cycle so that they have a handle on anticipated enrollments and can begin corresponding with students. Please be aware that while InfoSource will continue to be your querying tool, it will now be “pointed to” HUB. Therefore, InfoSource queries will need to be adjusted and updated so that the correct HUB tables are being accessed.  InfoSource information sessions are being held on a bi-weekly basis, with information being posted on the DEPEW-L listserv to alert all current InfoSource users when these sessions will be held.  If you are not on that list, and want to be included in those workshop sessions, please contact ub-sst@buffalo.edu.

November 2010

Admissions went live in August 2010 following more than 2 years of preparation, research, set up and testing. Thousands of applications are now successfully loading into UBSIS from external application sources (SUNY, common application and gradmit). All admissions offices (undergraduate, graduate, international) are now processing Fall 2011 applications in UBSIS and undergraduate admissions has successfully sent communication pieces through HUB for application acknowledgement via e-mail. Undergraduate applicants also have access to HUB through MyUB, where they can check the status of their applications and view information on any outstanding items.

Overall, things are working well. There have been a few technical glitches, but most are resolved quickly. Staff is becoming more comfortable with HUB and accustomed to the different processing mechanisms compared to the legacy system. The next significant milestone will be later this year when admissions (undergraduate and international) begins using the HUB Transfer Credit module to process and evaluate applications for transfer students

September 2010

Following more than two years of development, configuration, conversion and testing, the UBSIS Admissions module went live on August 2. While this is a significant and noticeable milestone for UB’s admissions offices, most non-admissions personnel will hardly notice the change. For the first few months, the admissions go-live will probably feel like a soft launch since Spring 2011 applications will still be processed through the old CICS mainframe student system. At the same time, Summer and Fall 2011 applications will begin being processed in the new UBSIS and full production (including self service and communication) will implemented by November 2010.

A critical step in processing applications for undergraduate transfer students is evaluating courses taken at other institutions.  Admissions personnel and academic advisors will find the new UBSIS is very different from the old transfer credit evaluation and articulation system (DARS / DARWIN) and has required rethinking how transfer credit is evaluated and processed. The new system has several different components where different parts of transfer credit information are stored and processed and this has meant having to carefully think about the big picture information (for example, the external school and subject titles) and the critical small details (for example, external subject codes and credits) so that the outcome (a transfer credit report showing incoming non-UB credits and how those credits are articulated to UB courses and requirements) is delivered with the expected results. Any one missing or improperly piece could lead to a complete failure (no report) or inaccurate information (missing credits or incorrect requirement evaluation).

Although conducting the transfer credit evaluation through UBSIS is quite a bit more complex for the administrative staff, the advisors and students may find that the self-service reports and other advisement tools more than make up for the front-load administrative effort.

July 2010

Testing the UBSIS set up has been the primary focus this past month. Two types of testing have been conducted: User Acceptance Testing and Integration Testing.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) involves users in the affected module areas (in this case Admissions) testing whether the system functions correctly as envisioned and to validate that all of the values have been set up and configured correctly. Nearly a dozen volunteers from Undergraduate Admissions and International Admissions have been engaged in this process; with each UAT volunteer testing variations of several dozen admissions cases while documenting the results.

Basic configuration of the UBSIS admissions module has been frozen while UAT is underway. Based on the results, minor changes and adjustments may be made prior to the August go-live or be implemented after the system goes into production use.
Integration Testing has been going on at the same time. Over 22 cases of the student life cycle were created and tested. For example, a single case might validate that the system has been configured correctly to:

  • Review and admit an out-of-state student
  • Apply a financial aid funding model
  • Enable course registration
  • Generate a bill
  • Pay the bill (through e-pay)
  • Input grades
  • Generate a transcript
  • Run a degree audit report

The primary purpose of Integration Testing is to be sure that the core team has correctly configured the system so that we can run a student record through the system from A to Z with no errors or gaps. Integration Testing is going very well and as minor problems are discovered the configuration is adjusted. Several more rounds of Integration Testing will be conducted prior to the Admission go-live in August.

The team has also actively been working on Business Process Redesign (BPR).  The new UBSIS has configuration and functionality that is very different from UB’s current system, so admissions personnel will need to change some of the actual business processes – which in turn will impact how people do their work.  Staff will need to become familiar with these new processes through training.  For example, the SUNY application has several Yes/No questions, (currently processed as Y/N values), but the new UBSIS does not have those items as part of the database and have to be stored in a different manner. For some, these will be stored as text in the Admissions Comment table (for example, Albany Curriculum Code), for others the information will be denoted by the student being placed in a Student Group category (for example, Athlete).

Overall, we are anticipating a successful implementation and are pleased that the process is proceeding on schedule.

June 2010

Basic configuration of the admissions module is being finalized and vetted with various stakeholders in preparation for the August go-live.  The admissions team continues to encourage departmental volunteers to assist with upcoming usability testing - please read below to see if you’re a good match to volunteer for a couple of hours.

Communication has been a major focus for the past month. The new UBSIS will make it much easier to manage commonplace communications such as acknowledgement letters and decision letters, which can be generated directly from UBSIS or created externally and then recorded in UBSIS. The communication module in UBSIS allows for both paper and electronic methods. The challenge is getting all of the various pieces set up, coded and linked to numerous other tables in UBSIS. Initial set up has been completed and early testing of the communication module has begun.

When the admissions process is in full production (target – October 2010), we will be able to capitalize on new UBSIS built in communication functionality; that is, some types of communication can be generated from UBSIS using one or more of the “Three C’s: Checklists, Comments and Communication.”

  • Checklists are used to inform applicants and students of things they need to do. For example, an applicant could have a Checklist telling her to submit transcripts, teacher recommendations, a personal essay and financial aid documents. The applicant can track the checklist through the Student Center self-service feature. This information can also be incorporated into a letter or e-mail. As items are submitted, staff will record them as “received” and that item will no longer appear in the checklist.
  • Comments are similar to notes - they can be added and appended to applicant and student records as well as specific items in UBSIS. An applicant could have a general person comment that all administrative units might be able to see; for example, “Disciplinary dismissal from previous school.”  An applicant could also have an admissions comment” that only admissions staff would see because it would be attached only to the application record; for example, “remedial English required” would indicate that the applicant was admitted with a language condition and is required to take one ESL course during the first semester of enrollment.
  • Communication indicates general communication; that is, letters and e-mails. These can be generated directly from UBSIS or created externally and then imported and saved in UBSIS. Letters require a significant amount of set up time, but this will be a big win when complete. Letters can be very specific or more general with the merge fields feature. The letters have to be set up and linked with a number of other tables and data so that they will run properly. Regardless of how the letters are generated (created or imported) staff will be able to click and view a PDF version of the letter.

The type of assistance sought for usability testing ideally is departmental, staff who work with admissions records, scholarships, academic advising, admission conditions, test scores, etc.  Your feedback will help us catch any issues before they go-live.  Check out the “Opportunities for Involvement” section of the website or send an email to ub-sst@buffalo.edu if you can help!

April 2010

Following more than a year of hard work, the Admissions Team is finishing up initial configuration of the admissions tables for the new UB Student Information System (UBSIS). The interfaces between UBSIS and other systems are also nearing completion. The UBSIS Admissions module is expected to “go live” in August 2010 in order to begin admissions processing for summer and fall 2011. In the next couple of months we’ll begin user acceptance testing. In addition to the Admissions personnel who will be testing the new system, we’re looking for assistance with this testing from non-admissions staff who access admissions information for their own areas (for example, scholarships, academic advising, admission conditions, test scores, etc.). – Check out the Opportunities for Involvement section of the website!

Admissions (Undergraduate, Graduate and International) will realize a number of changes in how we conduct our work interacting with the new system.  The basic processes and work flows will remain the same, but we’ll need to get used to some new terminology and procedures.  Some of these changes will have positive outcomes for students and staff.

One example of this is the ability to monitor stages of application processing by using Admissions Program Actions and Reasons. The new system provides many options to view/indicate why an application is at a particular stage (providing “reasons”). For example, when an undergraduate application is loaded into the new system, it will have a default “APPL” action (that is, an application ready for processing). This APPL action will automatically trigger a “to do” Checklist for the applicant.  Checklist items merge specific information from the application into Checklists designed for specific types of applicants or student groups.  Students can see their Checklist or To Do items when they log in to the Self Service area of the system.  For example, a freshman applicant may have a To Do item that states, “Arrange to have official transcripts sent to UB from St. John’s High School.”

After the application has been reviewed, the admission counselor will change the Action from APPL (application) to a decision action, such as, ADMT (Admit) or COND (Conditional Admission) or DENY. In some cases, an Action will also have a Reason (for that Action); for example, COND + SSC (Conditional Admission with Scholastic Standards Committee conditions); or COND + ESL (Conditional Admission with an English as a Second Language condition); or DENY + ACDM (Denied Admission for academic reasons). Checklists could also be generated from an ADMT Action; for example, for accepted students: “Congratulations on your admission to UB. To reserve your seat, you need to pay your Tuition Deposit before May 1st. Go to www.buffalo.edu/accepted and click on ‘Reserve Your Seat’.”

These codes for particular stages of application and the Checklist items associated with them will provide a streamlined way of communicating with students about what they need to do to apply to and enroll at the University at Buffalo.

November 2009

The Admissions team is currently working on preparing scripts for User Acceptance testing. Several of the conversion scripts are being developed in conjunction with the Training coordinator. These scripts will become part of the training course materials in preparation for system go-live. In addition to the script preparation, we also are preparing for our first round of conversion testing.

Over the past few weeks, we have worked toward resolution of some conversion issues pertaining to the conversion of GED, SAT and ACT scores.

The letter developers continue to work on the extensive list of letters, both undergraduate domestic and international offices, so that they can be processed in Campus Solutions.

I would like to extend my appreciation for all your help over the past few weeks. I will be updating the group shortly on our plans for the rest of the semester.

August 2009

The admissions team is continuing to make significant progress toward meeting our next milestone goal. This month, we welcomed Judah Lopez of the School of Social Work as a new member of the Admissions Core Team. Specifically, we focused our efforts in several key areas: data conversion/mapping, security, communication generation, and finalizing business case and functional specification documents for customization.

Also, we are in the process of mapping fields for interfaces between systems external to PeopleSoft (e.g. GrAdMIT). As we complete this complex task, we will again be reaching out to those of you who are in the professional schools, asking for your assistance.

May 2009

We would like to take this opportunity to update everyone on the progress of the Admissions module of the Student Services Transformation Project. Since the completion of our Fit/Gap sessions, I have been assisting the Admissions module team with the set-up of the Admissions tables. February 2009 marked the transition to the configuration phase of the project and the pace of the project has increased substantially. In March, our team moved into our new project team space in 220 MFAC, bringing all of the Admissions module team together in one place. As Subject Matter Experts and Core Team members, you will be contacted to provide critical information, to attend functional team meetings and brain-storming sessions. These activities are necessary to prepare our legacy data for conversion and testing, to assess our current business processes, and to make adjustments when required. Because of your expertise, we rely on your feedback and attention so that this transition is successful. I look forward to working with you more closely as we continue the PeopleSoft implementation.

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