Renewal of Student Information System (SIS)

Project Description

To include:

  • Strategy
  • Distance or blended
  • Modernisation and decoupling of VSS etc


No documents at this time.

Project Progress


Overall Project Completion

  • 20%
  • 60%


  • 40%
  • 80%

Project Discussion 3 Responses to Renewal of Student Information System (SIS)

  1. RFI completed and send out to vendors
    Awaiting RFI responses back by end of August
    Establish a RFI evaluation group and starts with onboarding and context training
    Meetings with Gartner on RFI review, Vendor list, strategy
    SIS renewal oversight by STerrco and IT Committee

    August 17, 2020 at 2:42 pm
  2. Establishing scope for the preliminary phase
    Governance structure being set up by Registrar
    Workshops to be held in July & August with Governance structure on principles and guidance for project
    Benchmarking visit in HE environment in progress July & August

    June 20, 2019 at 8:08 pm
    The need existed for HE administrative systems in the nineties with limited off-the-shelf products available and which could only be localized for the SA market at a very high cost. A HE Consortium commenced in 1994 -1999 to address this need, but unfortunately ended. NWU continue with its tailored made systems and port these systems to modern architecture, aligned with the university needs and save on expensive proprietary system and license costs.
    The Student Information System was developed over a period of time into a comprehensive ERP solution at a reasonable cost and a good fit to cater for the specific needs of the NWU. Today the Student Information System is 18 years old and although being upgraded over the past decade, the technology is old and the system cluttered with other systems that are not supposed to be part of the Student Information System. The technology base of the other core administrative systems implemented such as the Financial system (KFS) and Oracle HR & Payroll are also becoming older (~13years).
    Challenges faced with the current administrative ecosystem are that these systems are NWU custom-fit developed, lack in best practices; lack in modularity to upgrade to new technologies, digitalization, new demands and the cost of maintenance and support are increasing The value proposition of changing the current ERP’s environment are flexibility and agility, change in marketplace, new demands, change and alignment with business strategies and the risk of the old systems.
    The challenges NWU are facing with the Student Information System environment was discussed by the Registrar with various parties and it was decided that the Student System should be replaced. The integration to other systems are a huge concern, as the old architecture will not necessarily accommodate the changes to be made on the Student System. A proposal to address these problems were approved by the UMC. Although we will be focussing on the Student Information System replacement and technology changes first, it just make sense building a postmodern strategy that will include all other ERP environments.
    “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.
    The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.” – World Economic Forum: Fourth Industrial Revolution
    The current NWU IT strategy makes provision for the inclusion of best option products and services, based on a pre-defined and approved value system. This approach includes proprietary and open-source solutions. Both proprietary and open source solutions contain unsuccessful and successful products/solutions. The survival of any organisation, including the NWU, will rely on their ability to embrace the possibilities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We are a digital organisation in the business of higher education. The delivery of digital solutions becomes clear and urgent.

    Solutions are made up of functional (functions and features that is seen from the front-end) and non-functional requirements (things like security, backup & disaster recovery, extendibility, integration, maintainability etc.). All of these non-functional requirements need a different skill set or speciality to keep the solution/product maintained and running. This has a negative impact on available IT capacity to speed up delivery as it causes duplication of efforts, slow down the release cycle and increase maintenance cost to mention a few.

    The way IT work need to be optimised for speed/agility and quality to be able to focus on value added IT solutions to enable business to differentiate themselves from their competitors. To free up capacity, we are building a shared runtime environment, resilient platform and toolchain (NGDE) that will take care of the non-functional requirements, once. This will reduce time for production, consist of re-usable components, increase portability of the infrastructure, integration with API’s and ensure consistent user experience. This strategy will embrace on freedom of choice of solutions for those buy or build solutions that fit into the NWU architecture but will also say ‘NO’ to those that don’t fit. Saying ‘NO’ is not wrong, but we should say ‘YES’ more often.
    Postmodern ERP systems, or any enterprise system for that matter, is not a thing or a product but a technology strategy owned by the business. It is therefore very important to clearly know what your business drivers are. We started conversations with institutional leaders, UMC, since 10 October to establish an understanding and support for the change of the digital technology foundation for all system, to build a reference architecture to demonstrate applicability and a forum to discuss important principles and strategies for renewal. Reference document: 09 10 18 Framework for systems discussion with UMC attached.
    SIS Renewal:
    The replacement of the current Student System has been approved and supported by UMC. When transitioning to a new Student System Environment the complexity and interdependency of the environment needs to be recognise as traditional “rip-and-replace” approach is not recommended or even viable without a proper architecture foundation and paradigm shift. Tight integration did improve productivity and accuracy but became a nightmare for the transformation into a loosely coupled system that can be more agile to address business needs. Traditional ERP approaches are no longer tenable.
    A small core team consisting of business and IT started with this project determining the elements, approach and principles for the renewal project. Some of these elements identified are but not limited to:
    • Business capabilities: Assessing and understanding our current SIS capabilities is the initial step in moving from a monolithic. Business capability modelling is one of the tools and techniques to help business and IT leaders see the common view of the business. Business capabilities define how an enterprise is organized to execute the business. It actually define what you do, not how you do it. Understanding capabilities and their relationships lead to proper design of large enterprise systems.

    • Architecture revisit: The current focus for architecture is on sustainability. Design, build and deploy the NGDE will support and enable our administrative systems strategy, reduce resource expenditure on non-functional requirements. The NGDE will enable a hybrid model, allowing much more freedom of choice in solutions, while incorporating IoT and integration capabilities.

    • Readiness for change: Many organizations embark on projects without fully understanding what is required to succeed. A maturity model and toolkit provides leaders with a model to evaluate an organization’s readiness to proceed with a project. When an organization embarks on a project without fully understanding what is required to succeed, the result is often delays, poor business alignment, implementation problems, and post implementation frustration and disappointment

    • AS-IS: While in the transitioning phase, business need to continue as usual. Principles for criteria of the current operations, potential future changes, new listed IT and student related projects, resources, support and maintenance, contractual maintenance contracts and change management need to be consider. To maintain the AS-IS and drive new improvement with the same team will not be possible.
    • Project Approach: Focusing on just buying a software will result in poor outcomes and expectations. The renewal of the Student Information System is a technology strategy owned by the business. Clear strategic business goals, guidance, decision-making and direction is needed to be successful. Governance and project mechanisms and structures has to be establish to steer, govern and to formalise project management and teams. The implementation of one of the core ERP systems of NWU must receive dedicated resources, time and energy for proper planning and execution.
    • Market research: The trends, market and competitive landscape of Student Information Systems changed the past few years. An analysis on this landscape will assist NWU understanding the market trends, industry, growth and key drivers. This will help NWU choosing the best solution and implementation partner for successful investment.
    • Change management: Effective and persuasive communication and engaging with the relevant stakeholders are key to successful implementation. Important to proactively start listening, adapting and “selling” the content of the strategy, business outcomes, differentiation and innovation to the right people. Appointing a change management expert inside the project team will reposition IT as strategic partner, leverage and influence academic and administrative leaders about the role of postmodern ERP strategy to achieve strategic goals and engage with implementation partners helping them to understand the culture, strategy and business objectives of NWU

    November 8, 2018 at 11:20 pm

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