July 2014

0 Commentsby   |  08.08.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for July 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 61 development issues and 150 end-user support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.91% for the month of July.
  • myACU improvements - We released an updated look to myACU on August 5th.  The update improves the look and feel to better match the new design of www.acu.edu, makes myACU more mobile-friendly, and improves the load time of key pages.
  • Web theme development - We have been working on a new web theme that mirrors our work with myACU, which will allow us to push out a common theme to many of our web applications.  This will improve our development process and insure that applications are more mobile-friendly.
  • Infrastructure changes – We worked with Enterprise Infrastructure to complete multiple server moves so that we can provide service with up-to-date hardware.
  • Business Intelligence updates - We are working through upgrades to multiple BI tools, including Tableau, Cognos BI, and Cognos TM1.  The updates insure we remain up-to-date as we prepare to push out wider adoption to Cognos BI in particular.
  • Single sign-on update - A major update to the open source software we use for single sign-on, Central Authentication Server (CAS), was released in late spring. The update includes a number of bug fixes and enhancements, including enhancements to the password management features we introduced last fall.  We are working to implement all of our customizations and plan to release this into production sometime this fall.
  • Activity Insight - We continue to work with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Banner and Activity Insight.  We have completed most of the initial work with the last few remaining items to be completed soon. This implementation will significantly enhance the ability to collect and report this data for accreditation and other university needs.

See July 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

Fast fact for the month: ACU introduced the first version of myACU at the start of the Fall 2000 semester with the goal of allowing students to access their e-mail accounts, academic and financial records, and file server accounts from one site with a single login.  The original myACU was modeled after web portals provided by companies such as Yahoo! and Netscape.  myACU has evolved some over the years, but still seeks to meet the primary goal of making it easier for people to get to the resources they need.

June 2014

0 Commentsby   |  07.01.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for June 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 60 development issues and 141 end-user support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.89% for the month of June.
  • Banner proxy access -  We opened Banner proxy access for all current students on July 1st.  The  proxy management feature allows students to grant others online access to view certain pieces of information in Self Service Banner.   Students can share information regarding their transcript, financial aid awards, grades, and holds.  Access is granted by e-mail address, so anyone with a valid e-mail address can be added as a Proxy user.  The most common scenario is a student granting a parent or spouse access to personal information.
  • myACU improvements - We will perform final user testing this month and then will release the updated look the week of August 4th.  This update will improve the look and feel to better match the new design of www.acu.edu, make myACU more mobile friendly, and improve the load time of key pages.
  • Single sign-on update - A major update to the open source software we use for single sign-on, Central Authentication Server (CAS), was released in late spring. The update includes a number of bug fixes and enhancements, including enhancements to the password management features we introduced last fall.  We are working to implement all of our customizations and plan to release this into production sometime in early August.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – We will work with Financial Operations to test and document the automated budgeting project over the course of the next year in preparation for its use with FY16 budgeting.  In addition to this, we are implementing extensive changes to the TM1 Finance and Budget models for the new fiscal year.
  • Activity Insight - We continue to work with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Banner and Activity Insight.  Faculty accounts have been created and single sign-on integration has been enabled.  We are now working on additional data integration with Banner, including class information and faculty demographics. This implementation will significantly enhance the ability to collect and report this data for accreditation and other university needs.
  • Mobile printing - We worked with our tech support folks to complete the software update and server moves on June 13th.  Mobile printing is now available, though we will not publicize it until August so that we have time to work out all the quirks.

See June 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

May 2014

0 Commentsby   |  06.06.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for May 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 43 development issues and 180 end-user support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.97% for the month of May.
  • Talisma hardware move - We completed a major hardware move of the Talisma CRM database to increase the server resources and allows for regular data growth.  The move went smoothly and is one of our most successful Talisma changes.
  • Seasonal tasks May typically includes many seasonal tasks as the school year and fiscal year end.  Task included updating card access to campus doors after the Spring 2014 term concluded, preparing for the first Fall 2014 bill to be sent in June, and helping with preparations for the close of the fiscal year in Banner.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – We will work with Financial Operations to test and document the automated budgeting project over the course of the next year in preparation for its use with FY16.  We are  excited to announce that we have purchased a bundle of Cognos user licenses so that we can move forward with campus-wide adoption of this BI tool.   Now we are working to purchase and schedule training.
  • Operational Data Store (ODS) -  We remain in the planning and analysis phase to use ODS as our primary reporting data source, which includes determining what ACU-specific data needs to be added to make it most useful.  We have already made use of the ODS for a few small reporting needs and it has helped uncover some inconsistencies in the way we have stored and reported off data previously.
  • myACU improvements – We are on track to introduce an update of myACU in August, which will improve the look and feel to better match the new design of www.acu.edu.  It will also make myACU more mobile friendly and improve the load time of key pages.
  • Mobile printing - We are working with our tech support folks to enable printing from mobile devices and will make a major server and software move this next week.  This change will allow for active use of mobile printing so that we have time to prepare for wide use at start of the fall term.
  • Activity Insight - We are working closely with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Activity Insight and Banner.  This implementation will significantly enhance the ability to collect and report this data for accreditation and other university needs.  We anticipate a go-live around the start of the fall term.

See May 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

April 2014

0 Commentsby   |  05.15.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for April 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 64 development issues and 127 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.97% for the month of April.
  • Talisma hardware move - We are preparing for a major hardware move of the Talisma CRM database this weekend (May 16th through 18th).  This effort  required significant coordination with Admissions, our systems folks, and our vendor, Campus Management.  The move will increase the server resources and allows for regular data growth.
  • Financial aid setup and maintenance - We have been working closely with Student Financial Services to prepare for the 2014-2015 aid year.  This includes the installation of a Banner Financial Aid upgrade as well as modifications to jobs that support packaging and reporting.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – We continue to work with Financial Operations to finish up the budgeting model project.  We anticipate spending time with the budget office to insure a smooth roll-out of campus-wide budgeting for FY2015 in parallel mode with the process we’ve used historically.
  • Operational Data Store (ODS) -  We have been successfully running ODS with the Banner data that comes “out of the box.”  We are in the planning phase to start using it as a primary data source for reporting, which includes analysis to determine what ACU-specific data needs to be added to make it most useful.  We have already made use of the ODS for a few small reporting needs.
  • Moodle hosting for Graduate Studies in Education - In January we began hosting an instance of the Moodle learning platform for a few courses in the Graduate Studies in Education program.  We will host this until Summer 2015, which gives the university some time to make a longterm decision for the enterprise learning management system (LMS).
  • myACU improvements – We are updating the look and feel to better match the new design of www.acu.edu, which includes making it mobile and tablet friendly.  We are also seeking to improve the load times of the login and home tabs as well as make improvements of tools such as the student search feature.  We anticipate making many of these changes live in August.
  • Mobile printing - We are working with our tech support folks to enable printing from mobile devices.  We are targeting a go-live in time for Fall 2014.
  • Activity Insight - The Provost approved the purchase of Activity Insight, which is a cloud-hosted solution for faculty activity reporting.  We are working closely with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Activity Insight and Banner.  This implementation will significantly enhance the ability to collect and report this data for accreditation and other university needs.  We anticipate a go-live around the start of the fall term.

See April 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

March 2014

0 Commentsby   |  04.07.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for March 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 63 development issues and 133 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.89% for the month of March.
  • Financial aid setup and maintenance - We have been working closely with Student Financial Services to prepare for the 2014-2015 aid year.  This includes the installation of a Banner Financial Aid upgrade as well as modifications to jobs that support packaging and reporting.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – We continue to work with Financial Operations to finish up the budgeting model project.  We anticipate spending time with the budget office to insure a smooth roll-out of campus-wide budgeting for FY2015 in parallel mode with the process we’ve used historically.
  • Operational Data Store (ODS) -  We have been successfully running ODS with the Banner data that comes “out of the box.”  We are currently in the planning phase to start using it as a primary data source for reporting, which includes analysis to determine what ACU-specific data needs to be added to make it most useful.
  • DegreeWorks - DegreeWorks is a replacement for the CAPP application that we use for degree planning. We worked with the Registrar’s Office to prepare for student access and opened it on Monday, March 3rd.
  • Bean Bucks online purchasing - We worked with Business Services to provide the ability for students to purchase additional Bean Bucks.  The site was updated to make it available to any student with any meal plan and to close the purchase site at the middle of the spring term since Bean Bucks do not roll over to the fall term.
  • Retention support - We have been working with Bart Herridge to collect and maintain retention data in Banner for each new student.  These tools were released during the month and will help Bart and others continue our progress towards improving retention.
  • Open source contributions - We regularly use open source software to provide enterprise-level applications, such as myACU, single sign-on, and blogs.  We would like to contribute back to these communities where we have made improvements and enhancements to these applications.  Our initial effort will focus on contributions to the Central Authentication Server (CAS) project that we use for single sign-on and password management.
  • Application management - We are researching tools that will help us improve our monitoring of applications.  The new tools will improve the monitoring we already have in place, allow us to react more quickly to issues, and will enhance our ability to troubleshoot problems.
  • Mobile printing - We are working with our tech support folks to set up a test environment that will enable printing from mobile devices.  We are targeting a go-live in time for Fall 2014.

See March 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

February 2014

0 Commentsby   |  03.05.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for February 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • In all, 71 development issues and 178 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.89% for the month of February.
  • Authentication system end-of-life We quietly undertook a project in the last year to migrate all of our applications to use a single source for authentication.  This allowed us to manage authentication and authorization from a central location and prepare for the password policy changes put in place last fall.  One of the old authentication systems, LDAP, was turned off this past month.
  • Financial aid setup and maintenance - We have been working closely with Student Financial Services to prepare for the 2014-2015 aid year.  This includes the installation of a Banner Financial Aid upgrade as well as modifications to jobs that support packaging and reporting.
  • Student Aid Services (SAS) - This  goes hand-in-hand with the work described in the previous bullet item.  ACU partnered with Student Aid Services to manage award letters for incoming, undergraduate students.  We  have a process in place to automatically deliver student and financial aid data to SAS and have already delivered two files so that award letters will be sent to incoming students.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – We continue to work with Financial Operations to finish up the budgeting model project.  We anticipate spending time with the budget office to insure a smooth roll-out of campus-wide budgeting for FY2015.
  • Operational Data Store (ODS) -  We have been successfully running ODS for a while with the Banner data that comes “out of the box.”  We are currently in the planning phase to start using it as a primary data source for reporting, which includes analysis to determine what ACU-specific data needs to be added to make it most useful.
  • DegreeWorks - DegreeWorks is a replacement for the CAPP application that we use for degree planning. We worked with the Registrar’s Office to prepare for student access and opened it on Monday, March 3rd.
  • Bean Bucks online purchasing - We worked with Business Services to provide the ability for students to purchase additional Bean Bucks.  This service is only available for students with Lifestyle and Freestyle plans.
  • Retention support - We have been working with Bart Herridge to collect and maintain retention data in Banner for each new student.  This will help Bart and others continue our progress towards increased retention.
  • Open source contributions - We regularly use open source software to provide enterprise-level applications, such as myACU, single sign-on, and blogs.  We would like to contribute back to these communities where we have made improvements and enhancements to these applications.  Our initial effort will focus on contributions to the Central Authentication Server (CAS) project that we use for single sign-on and password management.
  • Application management - We are researching tools that will help us improve our monitoring of applications.  The new tools will improve the monitoring we already have in place, allow us to react more quickly to issues, and will enhance our ability to troubleshoot problems.
  • Mobile printing - We are working with our tech support folks to set up a test environment that will enable printing from mobile devices.  If things go well with testing, then we will consider a go-live in time for Fall 2014.

See February 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

January 2014

0 Commentsby   |  02.10.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for January 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • Start of semester – A good portion of January was spent helping the campus prepare for the start of classes.  This included the usual list of items, such as custom reports, meal plan changes and fixes, course calendar creation, and preparation for the use of course tools like OpenClass.
  • Billing Acknowledgement - We deployed an updated version of electronic checkin to support a new requirement to have students acknowledge that they are responsible for paying their bill.  We experienced a few bugs at go-live, but quickly resolved these so that checkin and acknowledgement could be completed.  We have already deployed a few enhancements to improve the checkin process when it occurs again in August.
  • Financial aid setup and maintenance - We have been working closely with Student Financial Services to prepare for the 2014-2015 aid year.  This includes the installation of a Banner Financial Aid upgrade as well as modifications to jobs that support packaging and reporting.
  • Banner Security Request application - We deployed a new version of the Banner Security Request application that uses a modern interface and supports Discoverer access requests as well.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – There are some residual tasks for Phase 2 of the implementation with Infolink Consulting before considering the project completed. We are working with Financial Operations to finish this work, which will provide them with a budgeting model that will significantly improve the budgeting process.
  • DegreeWorks - DegreeWorks is a replacement for the CAPP application that we use for degree planning. This project will allow for greater flexibility and usability for students, advisors and staff that assist students with their degree plans.  We went live with advisor access on November 21st as planned.  We anticipate a go-live date for student access in time for class registration in the next month.
  • Student Aid Services (SAS) – Enrollment Marketing requested our help with a project to send out electronic financial aid award letters for incoming, undergraduate students.  They have partnered with Student Aid Services to manage this, which includes the need for student and financial aid data.  The service will be used in parallel to Evisions hosted locally, which has already been in use for sending out all award letters.  We provided SAS with an initial test file and will complete work to automatically deliver files once all testing is complete.
  • Health Saving Account (HSA) - A data feed has been created to support the new HSA option for employees in 2014.  This will operate similar to the feed that we provide for other services such as TIAA-CREF where account deposits are made for employees.
  • Bean Bucks online purchasing - We have been working with Business Services to provide the ability for students to purchase additional Bean Bucks.  This service will only be available for students with Lifestyle and Freestyle plans.  We  have deployed the purchasing site already, but are working through some final changes to the Balances portlet in myACU before considering this project complete.
  • In all, 66 development issues and 245 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.92% for the month of January.

See January 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

December 2013

0 Commentsby   |  01.10.14  |  Uncategorized

We will start highlighting our development and support work on a monthly basis rather than three-week cycles. Here are some of the highlights for December 2013 as well as ongoing work:

  • Cognos BI and TM1 – There are some residual tasks for Phase 2 of the implementation with Infolink Consulting before considering the project completed. We are working with Financial Operations to finish this work, which will provide them with a budgeting model that will significantly improve the budgeting process.
  • DegreeWorks - DegreeWorks is a replacement for the CAPP application that we use for degree planning. This project will allow for greater flexibility and usability for students, advisors and staff that assist students with their degree plans.  We went live with advisor access on November 21st as planned.  A go-live date for student access will be identified after advisors successfully use the software for a few weeks.
  • Billing Acknowledgement - ACU is required to have students acknowledge that they are responsible for paying their bill.  Financial Operations has requested that an acknowledgement page be added to the Electronic Checkin application that all students complete at the start of the term.  We finished programming work in December and tested in time for deployment this week.
  • Banner HR upgrade - The Banner HR upgrade was completed on December 21st.  This upgrade included prerequisite updates to core Banner components including Banner General.
  • Banner Workflow move and upgrade - We moved Banner Workflow to a new server and upgraded the software.
  • Student Aid Services (SAS) – Enrollment Marketing  requested our help with a project to send out electronic financial aid award letters for incoming, undergraduate students.  They have partnered with Student Aid Services to manage this, which includes the need for student and financial aid data.  The service will be used in parallel to Evisions hosted locally, which has already been in use for sending out all award letters.  We provided SAS with an initial test file and will complete work to automatically deliver files this month.
  • Health Saving Account (HSA) - A data feed has been created to support the new HSA option for employees in 2014.  This will operate similar to the feed that we provide for other services such as TIAA-CREF where account deposits are made for employees.  We delivered a test file before the Christmas break and have been working with HR and HSA to finalize work post-holidays.
  • Bean Bucks online purchasing - We have been working with Business Services to provide the ability for students to purchase additional Bean Bucks.  This service will only be available for students with Lifestyle and Freestyle plans.  We are currently testing and should introduce this by the start of the spring term.
  • Blogs update - We need to upgrade our blogs server (WordPress) to the most recent version to keep us up-to-date and address known bugs and security issues.  We applied the update earlier this week.
  • Xythos (myACU Files) update - Xythos is in need of updates.  We continue to see occasional performance and accessibility issues, which we hope this update will improve.  This update includes a new mobile web interface that will eventually replace the custom interface we wrote six years ago.  We applied the update earlier this week.
  • Banner Proxy accessWe are working with the Registrar’s Office and the Depot to implement proxy access in Banner.  This will allow parents, guardians and other individuals to be granted access to Self-serve Banner by their students.  The student will be able to select what type of access is granted and can revoke access at any given time.  This is an often-requested feature and we are excited to provide this functionality soon.
  • In all, 26 development issues and 131 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during the month.

See December 2013 – Resolved Development Issues for a more in-depth summary.

Dev Cycle 52

0 Commentsby   |  12.03.13  |  Uncategorized

We finished Development Cycle 52 last week, which spans November 11th through November 29th.  Here are some of the highlights for this cycle as well as ongoing work:

  • LDAP to Active Directory migration - We have moved our main authentication store to Active Directory, which required configuration changes to a number of applications that relied on LDAP.  The final applications moves were made the last few weeks.
  • Password Management – We implemented features to support our new password policy in conjunction with the move to Active Directory.  We fixed a few bugs and made some enhancements after observing its usage in production.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – There are some residual tasks for Phase 2 of the implementation with Infolink Consulting before considering the project completed. We are working with Financial Operations to finish this work, which will provide them with a budgeting model that will significantly improve the budgeting process.
  • DegreeWorks - DegreeWorks is a replacement for the CAPP application that we use for degree planning. This project will allow for greater flexibility and usability for students, advisors and staff that assist students with their degree plans.  We went live with advisor access on November 21st as planned.  A go-live date for student access will be identified after advisors successfully use the software for a few weeks.
  • Billing Acknowledgement - ACU is now required to have students acknowledge that they are responsible for paying their bill.  Financial Operations has requested that an acknowledgement page be added to the Electronic Checkin application that all students complete at the start of the term.  We are rewriting this application in conjunction with the project since it is in need of maintenance.
  • Banner HR upgrade - We have a required Banner HR upgrade to apply later this month, which includes prerequisites for numerous updates to be applied to Banner as a whole.  We are targeting a production upgrade on December 20th and 21st.
  • Banner Workflow move and upgrade - The old hardware hosting Banner Workflow has failed and we are working to move to new servers as well as an upgraded version of the software.  This work was already underway before the hardware failure, but has been accelerated so that we can restore service.
  • Student Aid Services (SAS) – Enrollment Marketing has requested our help with a project to send out electronic financial aid award letters for incoming, undergraduate students.  They have partnered with Student Aid Services to manage this, which includes the need for student and financial aid data.  The service will be used in parallel to Evisions hosted locally, which has already been in use for sending out all award letters.  We are currently working to identify the data needs and will start the project soon.
  • Health Saving Account (HSA) - A data feed is being created to support the new HSA option for employees in 2014.  This will operate similar to the feed that we provide for other services such as TIAA-CREF where account deposits are made for employees.
  • Bean Bucks online purchasing - We have been working with Business Services to provide the ability for students to purchase additional Bean Bucks.  This service will only be available for students with Lifestyle and Freestyle plans.  We are currently testing and should introduce this by the start of the spring term.
  • Blogs update - We need to upgrade our blogs server (WordPress) to the most recent version to keep us up-to-date and address known bugs and security issues.  We are targeting this update to occur sometime during the winter break.
  • Xythos (myACU Files) update - Xythos is in need of updates.  We continue to see occasional performance and accessibility issues, which we hope this update will improve.  This update includes a new mobile web interface that will eventually replace the custom interface we wrote five years ago.  We are targeting this update to occur during the winter break.
  • Banner Proxy accessWe are working with the Registrar’s Office and the Depot to implement proxy access in Banner.  This will allow parents, guardians and other individuals to be granted access to Self-serve Banner by their students.  The student will be able to select what type of access is granted and can revoke access at any given time.  This is an often-requested feature and we are excited to provide this functionality soon.
  • In all, 26 development issues and 57 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during this cycle.

See Dev Cycle 52 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

Dev Cycle 51

0 Commentsby   |  11.13.13  |  Uncategorized

We finished up Development Cycle 51 last week, which spans October 21st through November 8th.  Here are some of the highlights for this cycle as well as ongoing work:

  • Security certificates renewal - Every web server that provides secure access has to have its security certificate renewed every two years.  We worked with Enterprise Infrastructure to insure that all certificates were replaced before expiring at the end of October.
  • LDAP to Active Directory migration - We are moving our main authentication store to Active Directory, which requires some changes to account management as well as configuration changes to a number of applications that rely on LDAP.  We have migrated most applications to Active Directory and will be completing the remainder of the list in the next few days.
  • Password Management – We implemented features to support our new password policy in conjunction with the move to Active Directory.  This includes the 180-day password change requirement, which will be enforced through single sign-on.  Users will be prompted to change their password when the expiration date is met.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – Phase 2 of the implementation with Infolink Consulting has been completed, which provides Financial Operations with a budgeting model that will significantly improve the budgeting process.  We are working with Financial Operations to move this work into production.
  • Fire Engine Red graduate admissions application - Graduate Enrollment Marketing started accepting admissions applications from Fire Engine Red (FER) at the end of August.  We are working on a few final modifications before considering the project complete.  We will take the old, locally-hosted graduate admissions application offline on November 1st.
  • DegreeWorks - DegreeWorks is a replacement for the CAPP application that we use for degree planning. This project will allow for greater flexibility and usability for students, advisors and staff that assist students with their degree plans.  The Registrar’s Office has targeted November 21st as the go-live date for rollout to a limited group of advisors.
  • Banner Proxy access – We are working with the Registrar’s Office and the Depot to implement proxy access in Banner.  This will allow parents, guardians and other individuals to be granted access to Self-serve Banner by their students.  The student will be able to select what type of access is granted and can revoke access at any given time.  This is an often-requested feature and we are excited to provide this functionality soon.
  • Google Groups for Mass Mailing - We are moving away from our homegrown application for sending out email messages to large internal audiences.  We have identified Google Groups as the solution and have set up one of the groups used by the Chapel office.  A job now runs regularly to keep group membership up-to-date.  We give ACU Police access to the groups they use regularly soon.
  • Ellucian Mobile - We are testing functionality to compare with what is provided with m.acu.edu.
  • In all, 43 development issues and 103 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during this cycle.

See Dev Cycle 51 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.