Queen's University

Staff pull together to upgrade admin systems

 
2014-04-11

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

A notice went out last week alerting the university community that the PeopleSoft administrative system including SOLUS would be unavailable the weekend of April 4-6 for scheduled maintenance. The activity behind the scenes of the ‘scheduled maintenance’ is much more interesting than the standard alert might suggest.

[Staff prepare for PeopleSoft upgrade]Some of the staff members involved in the project getting ready for upgrade weekend last Friday afternoon.

More than 40 ITServices staff and 20 members from the three business units – Financial Services, Human Resources and the Office of the University Registrar – worked tirelessly to implement the changes and ensure the administrative system functioned properly following the upgrade. Leading up to the weekend, the project team spent months preparing for the upgrade to PeopleTools, the core application that runs PeopleSoft.

Everyone involved went to great lengths to ensure the upgrade remained on schedule. Some staff members stayed up for 30-hour stretches between Friday and Saturday, while some people from the business units – a few with their kids in tow – came to campus after a temporary glitch prevented them from testing the system remotely.

“Both ITServices and business unit staff members were incredible and I want to thank them for their dedication,” says Bo Wandschneider, Associate Vice-Principal (Information Technology Services) and Chief Information Officer. “It was amazing to watch the team members on Sunday afternoon as they analyzed issues raised by business unit testing and came up with creative solutions to the problems. This was a project built on common vision, shared governance and joint accountability, and it shows.”

Project manager Gail Ferland says she was impressed by the genuine display of teamwork demonstrated throughout the upgrade.

“The people involved were committed to the project and each other,” says Ms. Ferland, the associate director of infrastructure services in ITServices. “Everyone demonstrated great problem solving skills throughout the project.”

Ms. Ferland says the project got off to a great start because the three business units demonstrated a commitment to improving their administrative system. They invested time and resources above and beyond their day-to-day work to create test plans and carry them out in their own areas. The project was very much a collaborative effort, with the business units and ITServices making decisions that caused the least amount of disruption for all involved.

And now they are reaping the benefits of the upgrade. The speed of the system has improved immensely with the replacement of back-end infrastructure such as servers and databases. Query reports and backups that used to take hours to run now are finished within minutes. The system should perform much better during large-scale processes such as course registration. The upgrade also allows for the introduction of new tools and functionality following the upgrade of PeopleSoft Finance this fall.
 

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