University of Oregon

2014 Ellucian Live! Recap


April 30, 2014, 12:30 – 2 pm
EMU Walnut Rm



Office of Admissions:  Kirk Koenig

Office of Business Affairs:  Michael Walsh, Judy Duff, Susan Peterson, David Dose

Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships:  Jim Brooks, Mark Diestler, Pete Bauer, Kara Westervelt

Office of Human Resources:  Cindi Peterson, Vid Rowan

Office of the Registrar:  Sue Eveland, Brian Lowery

Budget and Resource Planning: Tim Finch

Information Services: Joey Mitchell, Tim Ketchum, Jill Howe, Travis Shea, Teresa Owen, Susan Hilton, James Joule, Randall Klein, Gunawan Darmadi, Eric Shoemaker


Susan reported that she attended the Ellucian Executive Summit, which ran the day and a half prior to the general conference.  It was different than in prior years, with a lot more power points and no live demonstrations of new functionality.  Overheads were unreadable (fonts too small, fuzzy).  They also used “clickers” quite a bit, asking obvious questions and having the attendees vote.  The comment after each poll was “No surprises here.”  Which made everyone ask “If it is obvious to all of us, then why are we doing this?” 

The message was “It’s not just a vision, it’s a strategy.”

Moving forward, Ellucian has identified the following priorities:

1.     Protect the clients’ investment

2.     Deliver products on time

3.     Significantly accelerate the delivery of Banner with XE Principles

4.     Move to global from the start (don’t design a product and then modify)

5.     Move to “Designed for Mobile” first

6.     Evolve to “implementations as configurations, not modifications”

7.     Improve Ellucian’s cloud readiness, including hot upgrades and making sure systems are sized for worst cases (e.g. registration)

8.     Adopt evolutionary technology approach, not revolutionary

9.     Systematically eliminate duplicate technologies caused primarily by merging with other companies (e.g., there six different technologies for producing pdf files within Banner)

Ellucian’s goal is “world-class, future-proofed” applications that fulfill the XE vision and evolve with the market.  “It’s not just a vision --- it’s a strategy” (this was a conference theme)

The VP of Product Development (?) said he had been told that he had to speed up the XE development time on the other Banner modules.

Sue said the conference was all about Banner XE but it’s not ready for prime time.   She reported that she tried Banner XE Student in the Learn Lab.  First time was a disaster – all the user IDs were messed up --- but she was called back later and had a chance to sit down with the Ellucian programmer who is writing the registration piece.  The focus is on functionality although it is still a step back from what Tim (IS) wrote for them 10 years ago.  She thinks it will still be a few years before the product will be to the point that RO would be interested in it.  She noted that the programmer said he has less than 3 years before he retires and she questioned whether he would have the work completed before he left.  Banner XE Student will not be available for general release until December 31, 2014. 

Tim said he liked what he saw although he agreed that it doesn’t do some of the things that we can do now with our mods (e.g., it doesn’t do restriction or pre-requisite checking up front).  Oklahoma is running Banner XE Student now.

The “XE” in Banner XE stands for “extensible eco-systems.”  It’s not just a new version but a platform change, which will require that Banner developers learn new skills.

 Tim said the mods to XE should be extensible but it’s not necessarily easy.  He attended a session where a school modified the faculty grade entry and it took them 256 hours to do it.  It definitely takes time to get up to speed, mods being extensible or not.

You still have to do two logins if you want to run Banner 8.x and Banner XE.  Ellucian is working on a “navigation coordinator” that would let you toggle back and forth between the two windows.

Ellucian is just beginning to work on Banner XE HR and Banner XE Finance.  Banner XE Financial Aid will be the last module to be converted.   

Vid said he was impressed that the new products are uniform and using the same protocols, and they are using Git.  A lot of the new Ellucian developers are young and familiar with Git Hub.  That is a stark contrast to what Ellucian currently does (different teams developing different pieces of the product).

Sue said some of the people she talked to were working on different pieces:  some were implementing tabbed forms while others were implementing the “scroll to hell” forms (one long, long form where you have to do a lot of scrolling to get to the fields you want/need).

Banner XE requires additional hardware, which is compounded when we need to add that hardware to the production environment, as well as the failover servers and back-up servers. 

What about the Cascading User Interface – did anyone have a chance to check that out?

Tim said that only 4 out of about 100 attendees were using the new user interface in a session he attended.  Sue attended a hands-on session, and liked how fresh and clean the new UI looked.  The bread crumbs are nice.  The info text pops up in odd places.  Tim said that he heard the submit button doesn’t work on some browsers.  Sue said she can use DuckWeb on her iPhone and iPad.  She hasn’t tried to submit anything but she can access it.  Stephany said a lot of people are using iPhone to access DuckWeb (the DBAs see this as they are monitoring access).

Note:  The core offices will be evaluating the new user interface in May-June in Banner TEST.

Cindy and Judy reported that the big thing for HR folks is the Affordable Health Act “patch” which is really just a report.  There are many daunting reporting requirements coming up and it may be necessary to find a 3rd party vendor to supplement what Ellucian provides.  Ellucian is looking for partners for Banner XE HR development and testing.  There is potentially some nice benefits administration functionality being delivered in 2016.  Judy attended a web time entry session where a school(s) in Pasadena, Texas, wrote 85 epaths to address departmental workflows.  It was a very slick system.

Vid reported that disability and self-reporting functionality will be delivered with General 8.6.5 (we are on 8.6.2).  He also said that HR is looking at talent management software, hopefully one that could be integrated with Banner.  Ellucian will be on campus in May to demo their Cornerstone product. 

What is the future of Banner?

·       Vid said that the previous CHRO thought that Banner wasn’t best-of-breed for HR.  If we looked at “best of breed” for each module, we would have an expensive challenge on our hands for dealing with the integration between the modules.  An advantage of Banner is that it is integrated:  how would you deal with addresses stored in 3-5 products from different vendors?  Duplicate records would be the least of our problems. 

·       We used to say that if it weren’t for the Financial Aid regulatory releases, we could consider cutting loose from Ellucian and running what we had.  That being said, now it appears there will also be HR regulatory releases to address the federal regulations for reporting (payroll, AHA).

·       ODS is tied to Banner

·       If we swapped to another inclusive ERP (all modules in one product), there’s not a lot of options and nothing better than our modified system.

One noticeable fact this year was the lack of push to use the Commons or any of the community groups.  In the past, that has been something touted in all of the sessions.