SIS: A Look Back


SIS Project Overview

In 2012, UC Berkeley made a strategic decision to replace its constellation of aging, disparate, and internally built and maintained student information systems with a new, integrated, and more efficient set of vendor-supported systems. The new SIS provides integrated admissions, enrollment, registration, financial aid, student accounts, and advising information. The project impacted all of UC Berkeley's students, faculty, and student support staff.

We approached the project with great intention and care, focusing on a few crucial principles:

  • working closely with students, faculty, and staff; 
  • bringing together an effective leadership team; 
  • leveraging UC Berkeley's resources and expertise; 
  • closely managing risks and expenses; 
  • and staying flexible and adaptive.

In an environment where people historically have worked in silos, collaboration among and across organizational divisions was difficult at times. This impacted resources and created delivery delay risks. As an institution, during customization of the new system, we needed to provide clear guidance to establish streamlined processes and select policy options that met UC Berkeley's needs.

As university leaders clarified existing policies, and SIS enforced them in the new system, this created a big change to people’s daily activities that proved challenging for some. This all happened against the backdrop of a quickly changing campus environment.

Students can now access their key information and processes through a single online point-of-entry — CalCentral. This change has fundamentally altered the way our campus community interacts with student data related to admissions, financial aid, enrollment, course management, advising, grading, billing, student records, and more.

The SIS Project started in 2014 and ended in June of 2017, on time and within budget — a rarity for a UC Berkeley project of this size and complexity. The project team and campus community saw the process of replacing and integrating existing legacy systems as an opportunity to improve student systems. Impacted stakeholders had very high expectations regarding project scope and delivery. During the project design phase, the project team and campus community identified many additional needs, which have been incorporated into our longer term planning.

While we now have a new streamlined, foundational system in place, a project of this scale requires additional adjustments and expansion as well as maintenance and monitoring. There is much more work to do. A new post-SIS department with campus professional staff has been established to continue to build on that foundational work to improve and evolve the new system. The new organization will be responsible for stabilizing the new SIS environment, expanding and enhancing system functionality, and managing ongoing SIS operations.