While I was pleasantly surprised at the news that Banner is undergoing a “massive overhaul,” I immediately felt a sense of dread as I read the UNM News story, ”Campus-wide system undergoing massive overhaul”(Nov. 15). That dread deepened when I read the Banner 9 information page linked in the article.
There is a timeline at the very bottom of that webpage. I panicked when I saw that the number of hours dedicated to the “Reach out and Touch Someone” phase, which includes user training among other tasks, is only six hours for the “customer team.” I am assuming, of course, that the “customer team” is providing, or at least overseeing, the end-user testing, because I cannot find this phase of the rollout anywhere else in the project plan.
The Banner 9 implementation requires “new infrastructure (and)...will impact faculty staff, and students, as well as most campus functional areas such as Admissions, Registrar, Student Accounts, Financial Aid, Advancement Human resources, Finance, Payroll, etc.” (Quoted from the information webpage.)
Is the University going to allow an implementation of this magnitude to take place based on so few hours of end-user testing? Just six hours, ahead of the biggest implementation of new software University-wide since UNMJobs 2.0, which (no surprise) still has bugs months after roll-out, in spite of considerable testing beforehand? Even if it’s just an upgrade, this is still pretty major, as it affects all of the core areas.
Every UNM administrator knows they must face a huge learning curve whenever new software is rolled out, and the worst thing that can (and does) happen is being forced to go through that learning curve while bugs are being identified and updates are being made.
Most unit administrators are still overwhelmed by all of the new University-wide software that has been dumped in their laps over the past three years. In addition to UNMJobs 2.0 there was the implementation of the new RPT App for Retention, Promotion and Tenure; EvaluationKit; Chrome River and a plethora of other new processes released by the Office of Faculty Affairs and Services. Many of our harried staff members have lost their own assistants and cannot replace them due to budget cuts. Staff morale on this campus simply cannot take yet another pounding, something that could be avoided with the use of proper project management tools.
The only thing that can’t be avoided now is the surprise in which this news reached campus. The new promises ahead are a pleasant surprise, but most unpleasant is the surprise timeline for implementation. Banner 9 is expected to be working side by side with Banner 8 by February? And by the end of Spring semester, Banner 8 will be phased out? I am not opposed to this Banner upgrade, as it is no doubt needed and necessary. But, for the good of all administrative staff at UNM, I am pleading for adequate end-user testing before the rollout.
Karen Roberts Gardner
Program Planning Manager, College of Arts and Sciences