Ellucian Software Introduced to NCU to Improve Class Registration Process
By Kyle Crowell
In December of 2017, staff at North Central started investigating what Ellucian integration software could do for the university, determining whether or not to implement a form of Ellucian software known as an “ERP.” Ellucian is a company that makes various forms of software for higher education use, helping combine different college campus departments online, as well as streamlining online student functions. Since March of this year, North Central has been embarking on an 18 to 20 month journey behind the scenes, as the software is slowly being integrated into several major departments across campus.
“It’s a one-stop-shop”, said the Vice President of Business and Finance Oscar Mendoza, who has a key role in establishing the new software. “This is one [component] for accessing everything in your student account,” Mendoza said.
The “ERP package” that North Central contracted to install is called “Colleague.” Its goal as described by the Ellucian website is to “[unite] your entire institution to keep students, faculty, and staff productive and engaged.”
The cost of upgrading an entire campus is substantial; it can be upwards of $1 million.
Mendoza said that students can expect to see noticeable changes when they use Colleague to sign up for Fall 2019 classes. After that, students can expect to be using Colleague for nearly all of their online school needs. This includes ordering textbooks, checking grades, and getting financial aid notifications. The software also includes paying school bills online, and admission for incoming students. One of biggest face-lifts this brings is a complete overhaul of students’ transcripts and audit sheets. This is something that students and faculty alike have requested for some time.
Students will gain access to all of these features via a self-service webpage. Mendoza said that this should be accessible through mobile browsers as well. Moodle will still remain the portal that students use to access and turn in classwork from professors, however.
Along with the students’ new simplified accessibility to their accounts, the software program will affect many other departments. Specifically, the new software will be integrated into the registrars, student accounts, financial aid, admissions, and accounting offices. In the long term, this is projected to save North Central money by eliminating redundancies and streamlining interdepartmental communications according to Mendoza. He also stressed that “efficiency is a key component” of the entire purchase.
The exact number of how much the ERP costs was not available at the time of interview; however other colleges have made some large investments into similar software. North Arkansas College has recently spent over $1.2 million on Ellucian’s “SIS” package. Comparatively, a competitor to Ellucian cost Yosemite Community College District over $800,000 into a similar package in 2016.
According to their website, Ellucian has been around for 45 years, and worked in 2,400 organizations in different 40 countries. Some of the company’s partners include Microsoft, Amazon and IBM.
This 18 to 20 month process is roughly six months in. When interviewed about this huge undertaking, Mendoza and other staff members involved in the implementing of Colleague, including Executive Director of Operations Steve Tebbs, wanted to stress patience from the students during the transitioning period.
Tebbs is also the Ellucian project manager. “[Colleague] is a great need for North Central, and it will enhance the ability to communicate across campus,” Tebbs said in another interview earlier this year.
The transition period is expected to be in full swing across campus by the fall of 2019.