NCU’s Big Budget Purchase is New Behind-The-Scenes Helper

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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.