UBC Reports
October 31, 1996

MVS Migration Project

Placing information control in staff hands

by Stephen Forgacs
Staff writer

UBC is replacing its major administrative computer applications to provide administrators and staff with greater authority and responsibility for the information required to manage their activities.

The result of the MVS Migration Project will be an integrated set of administrative applications, said UBC Director of Budget and Planning, John Chase, who is also co-chair of the project steering committee.

"The redesign of these systems is intended to address the concerns of the customers of the systems, and that means improved management information," Chase said.

Aging applications that were originally designed to meet the need of a central department and not the administrators and staff who use them fall short of current requirements. And the systems don't relate well, if at all, to one another, said Chase.

"The level of integration in the existing systems is very low," Chase said. "Simply put, the systems were designed in a different era to meet a different need. We also recognize the need to move to a new technical environment because there are alternative systems out there that are cheaper and more cost-effective than those we are currently using."

The four separate but inter-related application systems include the Student Information System; Human Resources and Payroll; Finance, including Purchasing and Budgeting; and Alumni/Development.

Under the present operating systems, much of the data collected by individual departments is manually processed through a number of approval stages before being entered in the appropriate database. In many cases reports required by an administrator or staff member must be generated by a central department. This situation causes time delays at both the data entry and retrieval levels. Once the new systems are operational, administrators and staff will have more control of and responsibility for the data that is entered and the ability to generate reports tailored to their own unique requirements.

Chase said the transition will require institution-wide examination of work flow which will result in enhanced timeliness and accuracy of the data being entered.

The transition to the new system is being undertaken by UBC in partnership with Team Sierra--a consortium of Sierra Systems Inc., hardware vendor Data General Inc., and two application software vendors, PeopleSoft and Viking Systems. Migration to UNIX-based application for all of the hardware is targeted for completion by the end of 1997. Installation and development of new application software has begun and will continue throughout the life of the project. Costs of the transition are being funded largely from savings generated by redevelopment of the administration applications and migration to a new technology platform.