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.

Dev Cycle 50

0 Commentsby   |  10.24.13  |  Uncategorized

We finished up Development Cycle 50 last week, which spans September 30th through October 18th.  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.  All of our certificates expire at the end of the month, so we are working with Enterprise Infrastructure to insure that all certificates are replaced before they expire.
  • 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.
  • LDAP to Active Directory migration - We are working with our systems folks to move our main authentication store to Active Directory.  This requires some changes to account management as well as configuration changes to a number of applications that rely on LDAP.  We will migrate all applications to Active Directory during the first week in November.
  • Password Management – We are working to implement features that will 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.  The new features that are built into single sign-on will go into effect during the first week of November.
  • 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 advisor use.
  • 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.  We are finalizing the management of additional groups that ACU Police uses regularly and plan to have them start using these groups in November.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – Phase 2 of the implementation with Infolink Consulting is almost completed, which provides Financial Operations with a budgeting model that will significantly improve the budgeting process.  Financial Operations is performing final testing and then we will identify a date to move this work into production.
  • Ellucian Mobile - We are testing functionality to compare with what is provided with m.acu.edu.
  • In all, 43 development issues and 85 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during this cycle.

See Dev Cycle 50 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

Dev Cycle 49

0 Commentsby   |  10.07.13  |  Uncategorized

We finished up Development Cycle 49 the week before last, which spans September 9th through September 27th.  Here are some of the highlights for this cycle as well as ongoing work:

  • Fire Engine Red graduate admissions application – Graduate Enrollment Marketing started accepting admissions applications from Fire Engine Red (FER) at the end of August.  We now have a Talisma import process in place to support this, but 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.
  • LDAP to Active Directory migration - We are working with our systems folks to move our main authentication store to Active Directory.  This requires some changes to account management as well as configuration changes to a number of applications that rely on LDAP.
  • Password Management - In conjunction with the move to Active Directory, we have been working to implement features that will support our new password policy.  This includes the 180-day password change requirement, which will be enforced through single sign-on.  We have also made a few adjustments to the password change tools to support the new strength requirements.
  • 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 advisor use.
  • 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.  The Chapel office has been successfully using this student group for the last two weeks and have been impressed with how quickly messages are sent and received. We are working to set up additional groups that ACU Police uses regularly.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – Phase 2 of the implementation with Infolink Consulting is nearing completion, which provides Financial Operations with a budgeting model that will significantly improve the budgeting process.
  • Ellucian Mobile - Initial setup and preparation is underway and we have started testing functionality to compare with what is provided with m.acu.edu.
  • In all, 41 development issues and 95 Motorhelp support tickets were resolved during this cycle.

See Dev Cycle 49 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

Dev Cycle 48

0 Commentsby   |  09.09.13  |  Uncategorized

We finished up Development Cycle 48 last week, which spans August 19th through September 6th.  Here are some of the highlights for this cycle as well as ongoing work:

  • Start of school - We continue to be in start-of-school mode.  This includes the usual list of items, such as custom reports, meal plan changes and fixes, and preparation for the use of course tools like OpenClass.  Some of this work should start to taper off this week.
  • m.acu.edu - We deployed an update to address a few minor bugs and improvements, including integration with Google Analytics to better track usage patterns.  We also made minor UI improvements to applications like Mobile Files so that the old ACU Mobile and My Mobile tabs no longer appear in the header.  We are finishing up work on the addition of a directory search feature that should be deployed later this week.
  • Fire Engine Red graduate admissions application – We are working with Graduate Enrollment Marketing to prepare for their admissions application move to Fire Engine Red (FER).  We are very close to go-live and are making a few final adjustments that Enrollment Marketing suggested.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – Phase 2 of the implementation with Infolink Consulting is well underway.  This project’s focus will continue to improve the reporting and analytics provided to Financial Operations.
  • Ellucian Mobile - Initial setup and preparation is underway with the plan to release the applications later in the fall.  This could eventually replace all of the functionality provided in m.acu.edu and introduce some new features that Ellucian provides.
  • NCAA Compliance Assistant integration - Work continues to import financial aid data from Banner into the NCAA Compliance system.  We have run into a few snags with the features provided by the NCAA, but have created a plan so that we can proceed with adding the data this week.
  • In all, 59 development issues were completed during this development cycle in addition to the on-going projects mentioned above.

See Dev Cycle 48 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

Dev Cycle 47

0 Commentsby   |  08.19.13  |  Uncategorized

We finished up Development Cycle 47 last week, which spans July 29th through August 16th.  Here are some of the highlights for this cycle as well as ongoing work:

  • Start of school - We are in full start-of-school mode as we help campus prepare for the first day.  This includes the usual list of items, such as custom reports, card access for campus doors and preparation for the use of course tools like OpenClass.  We will continue to dedicate a lot of time to these issues through early September.
  • m.acu.edu - We deployed the updated version to production last week.  We are working on a few minor fixes and improvements that we plan to release later this week.
  • Course Calendars - We updated the interfaces for creating and maintaining course calendars so that we can stay up-to-date with the management tools that Google provides.  Fall 2013 course calendars were created last week and all known issues have been resolved.
  • Fire Engine Red graduate admissions application – We are working with Graduate Enrollment Marketing to prepare for their admissions application move to Fire Engine Red (FER).  All of the import process code has been deployed to production and we are in the process of testing some test submissions before considering the project complete.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – Phase 2 of the implementation with Infolink Consulting is underway.  This project’s focus will continue to improve the reporting and analytics that phase 1 provided to Financial Operations.
  • Ellucian Mobile - Initial setup and preparation is underway with the plan to release the applications later in the fall.  This will eventually replace all of the functionality provided in m.acu.edu and introduce some new features that Ellucian provides.   Work on this project will pick up once the fall term gets underway.
  • Xythos (myACU Files) – We decided to hold on a Xythos application update due to a bug that would impact some Mac users.  We are waiting on a fix from our vendor and will plan to update after the conclusion of the Fall 2013 term.
  • NCAA Compliance Assistant integration - We are working on phase two of integration between Banner and the NCAA Compliance system: financial aid integration.  This will automate the manual entry work currently performed by Student Financial Services.
  • In all, 58 development issues were completed during this development cycle in addition to the on-going projects mentioned above.

See Dev Cycle 47 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.