Being part of the team implementing one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated PeopleSoft Campus Solutions along with HCM and FSCM implementation for an eminent Indian university, I wanted to write a blog to share my unique experience with my fellow practitioners of Campus Solution. I had put myself in the center of this spectacular journey which included many memorable moments for this engagement right from business requirements gathering, facing unforeseen challenges during implementation and managing high level customers’ expectations, with no compromise to the core business functionality.
Our customer is one of the most eminent and reputed Group of educational institutions in South India. Since a humble beginning of in 1993, there has been no looking back and every year the college crossed new milestones. With an employee strength of 300+ and student strength of 5000+ our customer consists of 6 colleges affiliated to 3 different universities. Cosmopolitan and secular in ethos and philosophy, it attracts students from all over India and Overseas countries like SriLanka, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Nepal, Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq and Thailand.
Our working experience together with successful implementation of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions within estimated timelines for such a reputed institution really made us proud.
The university had 6 different colleges under one parent entity offering diverse course in various discipline under various academic streams of medicine, engineering and Arts & Science. The colleges were associated with 3 different universities offering students with variety of learning programs seasoned unique flavors from the governing universities. Hexaware challenge was to meet the vision and support the growing needs of the colleges by providing a common platform to manage various business processes involved right from being an Applicant to Alumni. Hexaware team was tasked with uniting the customer team on business process, training various stakeholders and providing innovative solution to customer pain points.
We started working on the project based on the end dates provided to us by college leadership team to meet their enrollment milestone. To brief about the timelines, we started the project in April 2013 with a stringent mandate to go-live by December 2013. Keeping the end dates in mind, we kept working towards achieving milestones by phases inthe project. We were on track throughout the tenure and the customer was updated on completion of each milestone. Finally we went live by January 6th of 2014 on our customer recommendation in order to have a hassle free go live, avoiding the December end holiday events.
But as we know, “Develop success from failures, Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success” – Dale Carnegie
Let me share few of the challenges we faced and how our team handled it and pushed towards the successful implementation.
Requirements at Institution level – Our customer had 6 institutes affiliated to 3 different universities and all have different set of business processes & rules, differing semester schedules/Terms (start and end dates). Once the Admissions process is done, the rest is handled separately at the Head of Department level—so, the best solution we could think is creating separate SET ID, Academic Institution, Business Unit for all the 6 colleges this helps to share the common set of business rules which make the system maintenance easier and avoid redundancy.
Second challenge was with the requirement of our customer conducting multiple Internals as part of the student onboarding process and as per their business rules, averaging of the internals to compute the weightage for the finals assessment scores. We proposed a simple PeopleSoft report solution embedded with a formula strategy to estimate average of all internals to meet their requirement. In addition to internals, there was also a requirement to create a view for the faculty to check their student’s attendance percentage as of date. So we created a page with the necessary information displaying student wise attendance percentage for the respective faculty. Our client appreciated the custom build approaches to meet their mandatory requirements.
Third challenge we encountered was more interesting. Customer had a legacy system for to enter their daily class details in addition to the daily attendance register they maintained with information’s like how many hours the individual faculty has spent for each theory, practical and special classes separately, how many students attended each class and total class strength. This was an additional task for faculties along with their regular attendance process. To make their life easy and minimize data entry at multiple applications we developed a PeopleSoft bolt-on process which generates an excel file which takes input from student attendance tables.
All the faculties run this process daily in PeopleSoft (avoiding data entry) to get the desired output which serves the purpose of RH system and minimized the data entry for the faculties to a very great extent. We also gave options to the Head Of Department, Principal, Research analyst and RH Coordinator for the same to check if the faculties have run the report on a regular basis and tracking defaulters triggering communication to them. As this process ultimately contributes to the faculties performance and pay. This approach replaced manual work done by faculties and helped establish a monitoring mechanism to keep a check on Faculties utilization and student attendance.
Understanding the financial needs of the institution and configuring Student Financial module has always been a pain area in any implementation. But here SF was a good fit barring with couple of challenges.
So, Fourth challenge was requirement of multiple fee structure ( 3 to 8 ) for a single program based on Student eligibility categories. Using one of the system delivered user variable, we were able to achieve the customer requirements. We used the equation variables to define the admit category type and attached the same with students so that during the fees collection system, the cashier can easily identify the student category and the correct fee structure is applicable for the particular student.
Fifth challenge was again in the Student Financials domain, the requirement was to charge and receive payment in multiple currencies like for example, a foreign student to be charged in USD and fees to be collected in USD and an Indian student to be charged in INR and fees to be collected in INR. This challenge initially seemed to be taking a toll on us; however, with the expert knowledge from the Student Financials team we arrived at the best solution of charging the student using multiple currencies. Our initial approach which might have required huge customization was avoided, after a detailed analysis of the business requirement from a customer perspective. Hexaware provided a solution with less customization. Receiving the payment in multiple currencies has been achieved including the currency conversion setup with the proper forecast of income and expenditure via Base Currency.
While being an SI partner with tons of experience in implementing an ERP solution at different universities, committing to the customer on completing the project on time, within budget, all these are important factors for senior level executives, but what about the users of the system. Whenever there is a change to the business process or implementation of ERP systems, the users get worried about learning curve for the new system and their lack of knowledge about functionality it offers to meet their daily needs.
The turning point was PEOPLESOFT HOUR – An approach to educate, share, learn and adapt PeopleSoft
PeopleSoft hour was a smart approach innovatively taken by our project team in order to spread awareness about PeopleSoft and to give hands-on & comfort to the users. We also utilized the PeopleSoft hour to train the trainers.
Concept of PeopleSoft Hour is an open on-the-job training session for all the employees to logon to application to do PeopleSoft work, get a feel and hands-on experience of the system with the support of Hexaware project team.
During the first 10 days of PeopleSoft Hour Sessions conducted after Go-Live, we found approximately 132 employees including Teaching staff & other staff taking part in the on-the-job training sessions and getting familiar on different functionalities and its importance. This exercise eventually helped us to take a step forward with a new change management framework for the institute staff to adapt to PeopleSoft for Daily work.
PeopleSoft hours was a great success and highly appreciated and supported by the customer’s top management– which helped us towards the successful implementation of Campus Solution, HCM and FSCM, by building confidence and creating awareness with Hexaware expert teams, proven tools and methodology.