Home Search Site Map LeagueTLC League Store
LeagueTLC Home
Innovation Express 2002
Innovation Express 2001 Archives
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000

iStream Logo
What's this?

LeagueTLC IT Professional Column
Exploring Issues, Innovations, and New Developments with Information Technology Professionals

Nothing New About Change:  Enterprise Resource Planning and Organizational Redesign

Ann Strine, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Information Technology, Pima Community College

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.

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Purpose: 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 Planning 
(ERP) package. The implementation schedule included converting four major 
college functions—finance, human resources/payroll, student services, and 
financial aid—to SCT's Banner2000 system. Along the way, PCC hoped to 
develop new processes and change the organizational culture. Targeted goals 
and conversion of the four noted operational and service functions took just 
over two years.

Description: Pima Community College, located in Tucson, Arizona, is the 
fourth largest single college, multicampus district in the nation. PCC has 
over 58,000 students enrolled at its five campuses, three centers, and 70 
other off-site locations. The 2000/2001 college budget totaled $194 million, 
with $140 million dedicated to upgrading facilities across all campuses. The 
chancellor has been with the district for five years, and over 60% of the 
administrators are new within the last three years. The new regime of 
leadership made the decision to move from an internally developed file-based 
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 in its 
day, but its effectiveness was fading with changing technology and the 
growth of the college. In preparation of change, PCC went through a 
deliberate, direct selection process for a third party product. SCT's 
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 the 
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 initiatives 
going on at once, new people were entering project processes who weren't in 
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 not the 
recommended textbook approach to an enterprise system implementation, 
but it is a real life situation for organizations keeping pace in the 
technological era, and probably closer to the true experience of most 
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 a new 
system, and there was no time to make our legacy system Y2K compliant 
and, simultaneously, bring up a new system. Therefore, we gained an 
unavoidable advantage to balance the exhausting schedule – a real deadline 
that was immovable. This kept us on schedule and on budget. Another key to 
our success was keeping the product vanilla. That is, no changes were made 
to baseline product code. Our schedule forced us into this decision, and we 
feel this made the initial implementation and subsequent upgrades as 
painless as they can be. By not entertaining requests for changes to Banner 
we kept everyone focused on the task were able to move quickly through the 
implementation. By sticking to the baseline product code, updates from SCT 
can be immediately applied without the need to rework custom changes. 
Although upgrades are not totally painless, the effort has certainly been 
minimized by this commitment to standardization.

We eventually hired a firm to provide project management. We learned that, 
for PCC, it was more effective to have the project management be provided 
by neither the software vendor nor someone from the institution. The 
external project manager had to be able to push everyone's buttons, and 
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 for 
internal staff to work actively working on implementation, for PCC experts to 
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 decisions and 
the foundation from which the implementation and project schedules were 
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 than 
continue their regular job and meet project objectives. The reality for PCC, 
and perhaps for most institutions, is that this optimum alternative is 
expensive. It would mean more staff or the delay of other work so that staff 
could be dedicated to the project implementation. There is no easy answer 
to this.

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 that we 
would adjust the Pima Way to the Banner Way, too often past practices were 
shoehorned into Banner processes. The intent was to incorporate new 
procedures and train staff to use new approaches. This goal was moderately 
successful; however, the shaping of policies, procedures, and practices is still 
underway, and the Banner project has given PCC an impetus that can't be 
ignored.

Banner, or any ERP system, puts new requirements on everybody. The 
Banner system requires critical thinking and decision making at all entry 
points into the Banner system. This, and the change to a PC based client 
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 technical 
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 the 
degree of change we have undertaken, and bringing the entire college into 
the new modes of operation requires our continued effort. Some of the 
tactics we are applying to this belated change management are process 
analysis and redesign teams for selected processes, interviews, and surveys 
to gather perceptions and issues, reworked job descriptions, training, and 
more training.

We're getting better every day in our effective use of Banner. We aren't 
second guessing any of our decisions, and all things considered, we believe 
we had a very good implementation. We will always be refining Banner 
through official upgrades from SCT, better reporting, and improvement of our 
skills in using the product. Of greater importance, is the refinement of college 
services and new practices that has occurred as a result of our commitment 
to making change happen at PCC.

 

 

HOME | SEARCH | SITE MAP | TRANSFORMATIONAL LEARNING CONNECTIONS (TLC) | LEAGUE STOREWEBMASTER
League for Innovation in the Community College
4505 East Chandler Boulevard, Suite 250 · Phoenix, Arizona 85048 · Voice: (480) 705-8200 · Fax: (480) 705-8201

Copyright © 2002 League for Innovation in the Community College. All rights reserved.