The Student Information Systems (SIS) Project began with a mission to improve UC Berkeley’s student experience by providing students, faculty, and staff with an integrated student information systems’ solution that is reliable, collaborative, and user-friendly. Despite setbacks and difficulties, the project was able to transition or replace many existing campus databases, websites, and platforms into one integrated student information system. Now, at project end, the SIS organization continues its work to build on the vision of the SIS Project: to create a more supportive UC Berkeley student experience.
The Logical Architecture Map
The Logical Architecture Map provides a compelling case for change and understand the scope and complexity of the SIS Project.
A Collection of Aging Systems
The SIS Project officially began on August 9, 2013. Yet the real story of the project begins three decades earlier.
In the 1980s, UC Berkeley began installing many of the information systems that the Student Information Systems Project (SIS) replaced. These systems were a constellation of dozens of siloed and aging applications, databases, and websites that resulted in process delays, data inaccuracies, and security risks.
When arriving at campus, many students were surprised and frustrated at how complicated it was to perform basic tasks. Students, faculty, and staff were often required to log onto multiple systems to update contact information, manage enrollment, access records, and more. The process created a strong negative impact on the student experience, causing unneeded financial expenses and even delayed graduation.
The aging systems were also a pain point for the faculty who were unable to adequately manage basic issues around course management. The labor-intensive environment took precious time away from students, faculty, and staff.
After extensive evaluation and consultation, it became clear that UC Berkeley needed a completely new information system to provide students, faculty, and staff with the quality online experience they deserve from a world-class university.
Before the SIS Project, students enrolled in classes through Tele-BEARS, a repurposed telephone system originally installed in the 1980s. It was slow, frustrating, and completely inadequate for the university’s needs. In 2012, the university experienced several near-misses of critical systems, including Tele-BEARS, which exposed the urgency of the situation.
The Tele-BEARS experience was symptomatic of the greater issues facing the overall student information system experience: the university’s information infrastructure was completely outdated.
With leadership support and in partnership with students, faculty, and staff, the SIS Project moved forward with an ambitious effort: to consolidate and modernize multiple legacy systems into one reliable, secure, scalable, and integrated software solution.
Phases of Change
The SIS Project team designed a phased implementation schedule designed to match the entire student academic cycle – from admission to graduation. Each of the seven “Go-Lives” was scheduled to coincide with one or more key academic deadlines or events such as admission decisions, financial aid disbursements, or start of enrollment. Tying functionality releases to the academic cycle created a sense of urgency that helped the project team and campus partners stay focused on the highest priorities at each stage.