Update on systemwide IT projects

June 16, 2016

Dear community members,

Last spring, I shared that the UNT System, UNT, UNT Health Science Center and UNT Dallas identified four key areas to improve our campuses as part of UNT's strategic planning for technology operations and infrastructure.

Since that time, I have been serving as executive sponsor for systemwide IT projects and have been working with Information Technology Shared Services (ITSS) to make improvements in services that will better foster student success, improve customer service and support strong strategic planning across all of our campuses.

As many of you are aware, our concentrated work on the Financial Transformation Project, which included one of our key IT projects, the PeopleSoft 9.2 upgrade, has caused some delays in the other projects. While we’ve had some hiccups in implementation of the upgrade, issues are in the process of being resolved by the diligent work of UNT System and UNT staff and administrators. And, with the Financial Transformation Project coming to an end this summer, the remaining key IT initiatives will rise in priority and gain momentum.

Despite some delays, the systemwide teams that ITSS formed to implement these other top IT-related priorities are making progress. The status of each project is as follows:

  • PeopleSoft 9.2 upgrade is now live and includes the implementation of a new Chart of Accounts. The new system improves financial reporting and capabilities, streamlines business processes, removes customizations, improves security and optimizes finance applications. Based on best practices for accounting, the new Chart of Accounts also provides better financial reporting and management. Post go-live clean-up efforts will continue to support impacted areas. This was a large-scale project that involved many areas at each institution and many man hours. I want to thank everyone who worked on this project for their hard work and dedication. 
  • Customer Relationship Management and Marketing Automation System are designed to optimize online interactions for staff members with current and future students by collecting better data about them to strengthen recruitment, retention and engagement. The systems went live this spring. Phase II is scheduled for this summer and will complete the system conversion and implement the automated communication campaigns for high school sophomores and juniors, graduate students and international students.
  • Mobile app is a project to better provide full mobility for all student functions so they can easily work from any mobile device as part of an “anytime-anywhere” strategy. The project began last spring and since then the project team conducted a student survey and used the feedback to identify the app's functionality goals, which include improving self-service interaction, student-to-campus communication and the student recruitment process. The team has completed vendor selection and the anticipated launch date is scheduled for early 2017.
  • Data Warehousing is designed to improve the data landscape for better reporting and data analysis. The project team is preparing for Phase I implementation that will focus on student data, enrollment data and financial data with an anticipated launch date in early 2017.

In addition to these key IT initiatives, ITSS also has made significant progress on other areas of support for students. An automated academic advising and degree audit system is launching in spring 2017 to improve the academic workflow toward degree plans for undergraduate and graduate students. And a team is evaluating the current Early Warning System for struggling students to determine ways to enhance early academic support.

Also, Microsoft recently expanded their desk phone support for Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud to make seeking technical support easier for students, faculty and staff, including those with disabilities. Visit the Disability Answer Desk for more information.

And, watch for reminders about taking the annual security awareness training, which will begin this fall. Full-time employees are required to complete a set of online training videos with an assessment question at the end of each video using the SANS Securing the Human system by Dec. 31, 2016. Completing the training builds upon our understanding of organizational security policies and best practices.

I’m excited about the progress being made on these key IT initiatives and am thankful for everyone who is working hard to get them done. These improvements will strengthen each institution’s ability to meet their students’ needs and support our faculty and staff.

UNT Proud,
Neal Smatresk