LeagueTLC IT Professional Column
Exploring Issues, Innovations,
and New Developments with Information Technology Professionals
New About Change: Enterprise Resource Planning and
Strine, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Information Technology,
There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor
more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new order of things
. . .
Whenever his enemies have the ability to attack the innovator they do
so with the passions of partisans, while the others defend him sluggishly,
so that the innovator and his party alike are vulnerable.
Machiavelli, The Prince
Focusing on the future and the unavoidable fury of Y2K, in 1996
Pima Community College (PCC) made the decision to move from a home-
grown administrative system to a third party Enterprise Resource
(ERP) package. The implementation schedule included converting four
college functions—finance, human resources/payroll, student services,
financial aid—to SCT's Banner2000 system. Along the way, PCC hoped
develop new processes and change the organizational culture. Targeted
and conversion of the four noted operational and service functions
over two years.
Description: Pima Community College, located in Tucson, Arizona,
fourth largest single college, multicampus district in the nation.
over 58,000 students enrolled at its five campuses, three centers,
other off-site locations. The 2000/2001 college budget totaled $194
with $140 million dedicated to upgrading facilities across all campuses.
chancellor has been with the district for five years, and over 60%
administrators are new within the last three years. The new regime
leadership made the decision to move from an internally developed
system to SCT's Banner2000 package and the creation of new processes,
and potentially a new organizational culture at PCC, was projected
to be a
painful but necessary step. PCC's administrative system was brilliant
day, but its effectiveness was fading with changing technology and
growth of the college. In preparation of change, PCC went through
deliberate, direct selection process for a third party product.
Banner2000 was selected based on its functionality, proven success,
company focus on higher education and implementation services.
The connection between these assorted facts and the quote from Machiavelli
centers on the difficulty of change. The implementation of an enterprisewide
system creates considerable change, and people have been aware of
issues that accompany change since at least the time of Machiavelli.
Examining and unraveling college processes is very complicated,
and PCC did
not start with, nor ever move to, a clean slate. With multiple major
going on at once, new people were entering project processes who
on early decisions, massive change was expected to occur in several
dimensions at once, and much had to be done in a hurry. This is
recommended textbook approach to an enterprise system implementation,
but it is a real life situation for organizations keeping pace in
technological era, and probably closer to the true experience of
institutions than to the ideal process.
Benefits/Impact: Our lessons match the literature. There
truly is nothing
new under the sun, and nothing is easy when it comes to ERP
implementations. In spite of this, much can be shared through experience,
inspired actions, and hindsight.
PCC began with an aggressive implementation schedule. We needed
system, and there was no time to make our legacy system Y2K compliant
and, simultaneously, bring up a new system. Therefore, we gained
unavoidable advantage to balance the exhausting schedule – a real
that was immovable. This kept us on schedule and on budget. Another
our success was keeping the product vanilla. That is, no changes
to baseline product code. Our schedule forced us into this decision,
feel this made the initial implementation and subsequent upgrades
painless as they can be. By not entertaining requests for changes
we kept everyone focused on the task were able to move quickly through
implementation. By sticking to the baseline product code, updates
can be immediately applied without the need to rework custom changes.
Although upgrades are not totally painless, the effort has certainly
minimized by this commitment to standardization.
We eventually hired a firm to provide project management. We learned
for PCC, it was more effective to have the project management be
by neither the software vendor nor someone from the institution.
external project manager had to be able to push everyone's buttons,
that required a degree of detachment.
The budget was well planned for SCT consulting and training resources,
licensing, and hardware. However, insufficient resources were allocated
internal staff to work actively working on implementation, for PCC
train broad groups, and for management of the cultural transformation.
More time and attention should have also been dedicated to helping
administrators, staff, and faculty understand the early planning
the foundation from which the implementation and project schedules
built. If we had it to do over again, we would like to dedicate
staff to focus
solely on project implementation and process communication rather
continue their regular job and meet project objectives. The reality
and perhaps for most institutions, is that this optimum alternative
expensive. It would mean more staff or the delay of other work so
could be dedicated to the project implementation. There is no easy
In addition to budget and staffing challenges, we were in a hurry
and did not
spend enough time reviewing internal policies, procedures, and practices.
Although there was staff consensus, and college leadership stated
would adjust the Pima Way to the Banner Way, too often past practices
shoehorned into Banner processes. The intent was to incorporate
procedures and train staff to use new approaches. This goal was
successful; however, the shaping of policies, procedures, and practices
underway, and the Banner project has given PCC an impetus that can't
Banner, or any ERP system, puts new requirements on everybody. The
Banner system requires critical thinking and decision making at
points into the Banner system. This, and the change to a PC based
interface, posed training, skill, motivation, and competency challenges.
Addressing these challenges will be a long-standing undertaking
for PCC. We
were told that the people issues would be more difficult than the
issues, but we didn't internalize this concept until we were in
the middle of
the implementation. Some areas of the college still do not understand
degree of change we have undertaken, and bringing the entire college
the new modes of operation requires our continued effort. Some of
tactics we are applying to this belated change management are process
analysis and redesign teams for selected processes, interviews,
to gather perceptions and issues, reworked job descriptions, training,
We're getting better every day in our effective use of Banner. We
second guessing any of our decisions, and all things considered,
we had a very good implementation. We will always be refining Banner
through official upgrades from SCT, better reporting, and improvement
skills in using the product. Of greater importance, is the refinement
services and new practices that has occurred as a result of our
to making change happen at PCC.