In 1995, the University of Houston System Board of Regents directed the Chancellor to establish consolidated information systems “...that are designed to talk to one another and that are supported by an external vendor....We also understand that, in order for all the universities to be on the same system, the way we keep our books and the way we register and enroll students will have to change.” (Regent John O’Quinn, Letter to the Chancellor, April 22, 1995)
Thus began a new direction for the University of Houston System to move toward a state-of-the-art, integrated database that would create a seamless, web-based services experience for students, staff and faculty throughout the system. Through a lengthy and complex process of review, discussion, collaborative decision-making, revision, and adaptation, UH System has moved carefully toward that goal.
PeopleSoft was eventually selected as the vendor following an extensive analysis and RFP process and in the summer of 1999 was presented to the Board. The UHS administration committed to creating:
- A common student system, which allows campus specific academic policies;
- An integrated approach for student services throughout UHS;
- Integrated business operations; and
- A customer-centric services environment via the Web.
In 2000, the Chancellor moved forward to start work on the PeopleSoft Human Resource module and the Finance module for all four UH System universities, as well as the Student Administration module for UH-Clear Lake for the first phase of the implementation. A Project Team was assembled, and a consulting team of PeopleSoft experts was hired. The three modules were successfully implemented in Fall 2001 and have continued as operational, with ongoing improvements, upgrades and service enhancements based on collaborative work with the user communities.
Leadership for the next phases of the implementation was transferred in February 2004 from Information Technology to Academic Affairs under Dr. Elaine Charlson, Executive Associate Vice Chancellor/Vice President for Academic and Faculty Affairs. In Fall 2004, UH-Clear Lake successfully upgraded its original PeopleSoft Student module to Version 8.0, a browser-based application that has greatly increased the stability of the software and the ease of use for the university community.
Since that time, the Project Team has worked steadily with UH and UHV users from all parts of the universities on identifying business processes and functionalities available through PeopleSoft and determining what modifications to the software might be needed. At the same time, the various academic service units have had the opportunity to examine their business processes to see what might need to change or what new improvements they might choose to introduce to the way they operate.
In November 2005, Craig Ness, Executive Director of Academic Budgets and Administration for the Division of Academic Affairs, stepped in as Project Director. Craig also led the UH System through the Finance implementation in 2001. Each of the four PeopleSoft Student Administration modules for the implementation (Admissions, Student Records, Student Financials, Scholarships & Financial Aid), as well as Institutional Research, has functional analysts or application leads—specialists in both the academic area and in PeopleSoft--assigned to work with that unit. A consulting partner (Ciber) has been working with the Project Team in specific areas of needed expertise. Additionally, a Change Management Team has been created, headed by Dr. Sandy Frieden, who for many years directed Distance Education at the UH main campus and then at the UH System. Change Management is responsible for communication, readiness activities, and training for the project.
In May 2006, PROSPECTS, the first part of the PeopleSoft Student Administration application for UH, went live in the UH Office of Admissions for freshman and transfer undergraduate domestic prospective students. This new recruiting tool, which is also the first part of PeopleSoft Version 8.9 to be used in the UH System, will gradually be expanded and rolled out to UH college recruiters.