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Banner Implementation Update

As many of you are aware, Skidmore is involved in a project to replace our Oracle Applications Student System with Sungard’s Banner product.  Banner was chosen at the end of 2009 after an extensive analysis of viable options.  We started working with SunGard in March 2010 and continued over the summer with a series of meetings designed to create the framework of the project- who from SunGard and who from Skidmore will perform in what roles; what the timeframe of the project will be, what will and won’t be included, and defining areas are that either SunGard or Skidmore perceive as risks to successful completion of the project.  It is important to note that, though IT is heavily involved in this project, this is not an IT-driven project.  Successful completion of the implementation required and continues to involve representation, collaboration and support from many of the administrative offices around the campus.

Last fall we were able to begin work in our own test copies of Banner.  With SunGard consultants providing guidance as to the order of certain tasks and advice on how the Banner software would behave if a parameter had one value instead of another, we began mapping and establishing our setup data in Banner.  This would include lists like which majors and minors Skidmore offers, the kinds of fees and charges the Bursar could apply to a student’s account, the application items that could and must be received by Admissions for an applicant and the names of grants the Financial Aid office could use to award to an applicant or student.

At this point, while much of the setup is done, there are still some questions that IT and the offices continue to work with the SunGard consultants to resolve.  We are currently in the process of loading selected historical data from our Oracle system into our Banner test systems, and encountering and resolving new questions as we go.  Looking forward, we are on track for Admissions to start using Banner for recruiting for the classes of 2017 (and beyond) this summer, processing applications they receive this fall (applicants for the class of 2016) in Banner, and for those same applicants  to have their Financial Aid applications processed in Banner shortly after.

In addition to simply replacing the system we have, we are looking at opportunities to improve how the offices operate.  For example, Financial Aid has been operating in a standalone system with data being transferred between their and other systems via file transfer.  There will be challenges as they lose some autonomy and flexibility, but also ways for them to improve their services to students and applicants.  Additionally we are looking forward to them having real-time access to applicant data and improved reporting abilities as information will not need to be accessed from multiple systems.  For Admissions, we are implementing some Banner products that are designed help them be more effective in their recruiting processes, an area that the current Oracle system does not support very well.  Much of the Banner training for Admissions and IT over the next few months involves the setup and operation of these tools.

Tom Harfmann - Assistant Director, Enterprise Systems – Applications