ctcLink project update

The ctcLink project team continues to support FirstLink colleges during their stabilization period. Beginning this week, most of the Ciber/SBCTC project team staff joined forces with the ctcLink/ERP Support Team in Olympia to focus on the outstanding critical and urgent “trouble tickets” that have been logged with the service desk. With everyone working together in one place to address the critical issues, while also supporting FirstLink colleges remotely, 13 of the critical issues have been resolved in the last few days. There is definitely more work to do, but as TCC’s Andy Duckworth said, “It’s awesome to see that kind of progress in such a short time.” There is also a daily status call with FirstLink college project managers to address the issues and progress of the day.

A handful of project staff remained on-site at Tacoma and Spokane to support the Finance departments and another group in the Bellevue office is focusing on the “high, medium and low” service tickets.

In addition, some changes to project leadership are underway. J.C. Chappell is now the ctcLink Senior Project Manager. He has been with the ctcLink project since Ciber came on board in February 2013, so he is definitely a familiar face. He was Ciber’s program director for the ctcLink project, but now J.C. will assume the role of senior project manager.  He has 31 years of experience in the information technology industry, specializing in managing large, complex programs and projects in a wide range of industry environments.

Also, as reported earlier this month at various meetings, Dennis Colgan is now the ctcLink Project Director for SBCTC. Dennis replaces Barbara Martin who announced her retirement coming up in January (congrats Barbara!). Dennis was most recently the Wave 1 coordinator (Jason Gordon has transitioned from Wave 2 coordinator to Wave 1 to fill that role). Dennis has been involved with the project from the early stages. He was a member of the ctcLink Vendor Evaluation and Selection Committee (VEST) and is a past member of the ctcLink Steering Committee. Dennis has been with the community and technical college system for nearly 20 years, at both Highline and South Seattle colleges.

Posted in FirstLink Colleges | 1 Comment

FirstLink Update: Week 8

FirstLink colleges (Spokane, Spokane Falls and Tacoma) are well into week eight on the new ctcLink system and week four of fall quarter. So far, colleges have completed three payroll cycles in ctcLink, disbursed millions of dollars in financial aid, and now have more than 26,400 students and employees with active ctcLink accounts. There is still much more work to do, but they have accomplished a great deal in the last several weeks.

It’s been a challenge, but slowly and surely, initial issues are being fixed, data is being corrected and the system is beginning to stabilize. Staff from FirstLink colleges, Ciber and SBCTC have worked tirelessly to uncover the issues and fix them as fast as possible.

One of the biggest issues has been getting financial aid funds to students in a timely manner. This has been tough on those students who rely on receiving their financial aid at the beginning of the quarter so they can purchase supplies, pay for daycare, transportation and many other living expenses. SBCTC, Ciber and college staff have been doing everything they can to correct the issues as quickly as possible. Getting students the funds they have coming to them is the top priority.

Many of the issues were related to how data (programs, courses, transcripts, schedules, etc.) converted from the old system to ctcLink. Because components within the new system are so closely connected, a data issue in student enrollment could have an effect on a student’s tuition balance, financial aid eligibility, or on the amount they should receive. Much work went into identifying, understanding and cleaning up those data issues. There were also a few configurations in the system (Financial Aid and Student Financials) that had to be worked out one by one.

All of the fixes and lessons learned will be applied to the implementation process for the first wave of eight colleges (Wave 1), scheduled for late August 2016. If you are part of the community and technical college system, please thank your FirstLink colleagues who’ve gone before you. It’s been a long haul, they have worked extremely hard and the lessons learned from their experience will benefit the entire community and technical college system with the implementation of ctcLink.



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

FirstLink Update: Week 5

Tacoma and Spokane colleges have been using the new ctcLink system for five weeks now. Much has been accomplished but there is still more to do to work through the remaining kinks and bugs in the system and continue the stabilization period.

Students started receiving their financial aid this week. The disbursement process was delayed last week when financial aid offices had to take extra time to make sure the disbursement amounts were correct for each student. This was a painstaking effort and slowed the disbursement process last week. Once financial aid award amounts were re-confirmed in ctcLink, the process of sending the money to the third party debit card agency was performed and some glitches were fixed along the way in that process as well. All three colleges sent out a majority of their financial aid disbursements this week and expect to wrap up the process for all financial-aid-eligible students next week.

The FirstLink colleges also posted their second payroll cycle in the new ctcLink system. Employees were paid on time and the process went fairly smoothly, but there are some issues to work out, especially in the area of streamlining the current process so it is much less time consuming for payroll staff. Meetings to address these issues began this week.

In all, more than 25,000 people have activated their ctcLink account since FirstLink colleges switched over to the new system the week of August 24. The majority of those (22,121) are students.

Posted in FirstLink Colleges | Leave a comment

FirstLink update: Week 4

This week was the final countdown to the beginning of fall quarter for Tacoma and Spokane colleges. The big push in the new ctcLink system this week was getting financial aid packaged and awarded for incoming students. All of the colleges using the new ctcLink system (Tacoma, Spokane, Spokane Falls) dealt with numerous issues working to get data in the ctcLink system updated and correct so they could distribute financial aid correctly to eligible students.

Because of the glitches, all three colleges have extended the tuition due date so students don’t get dropped from classes for non-payment. By Friday, some students were reporting on social media that their tuition was paid, but they were still waiting for their refund on their Higher One debit card (remaining financial aid funds for the quarter). Many students rely on that money to buy their books and other supplies and to cover transportation, daycare, etc. Those refunds are expected to start showing up on students’ debit cards beginning Monday and throughout the week.

It was an extremely frustrating week for students and staff alike. Next week, the ctcLink project team will continue assisting college staff to work through the remaining issues so students can begin to settle in to their fall classes and focus on learning.

Posted in FirstLink Colleges | 1 Comment

FirstLink update: Week 3

FirstLink (Spokane and Tacoma) colleges are well into their third week using the new ctcLink system and a little over a week away from the beginning of fall quarter. In other words, BUSY!

Prep work for packaging and disbursing financial aid began this week and colleges have continued admitting and enrolling new students for fall quarter. As of this afternoon, 16,588 accounts have been activated in the system and more than 14,270 of those are students.

This week there have been anywhere from 11,000 to 14,000 logins to ctcLink daily. The ctcLink/Ciber project team continues to assist FirstLink college staff with data cleanup, system familiarity and working out the issues as they come up. This support continues on campus and from the Command Center and ctcLink Service Desk in Olympia.

Posted in FirstLink Colleges | Leave a comment

First payroll in ctcLink a success!

The payroll process was completed in ctcLink this afternoon for FirstLink college employees to get paid on Sept 10.

A huge THANK YOU to the SBCTC and Ciber staff who worked all day to make it happen.

Over and out from the Olympia ctcLink Command Center. Everyone have a great weekend!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FirstLink Go-Live: quick update

Payroll was the focus of the day today as the project team and college payroll and finance staff worked to prep the data and files necessary for the FirstLink colleges’ September 10 payday. Several people will be working late into the evening to meet tomorrow’s payroll deadline for getting the files to the bank.

In other news, as of 4:45 pm today, 10,260 people have activated their ctcLink account and 8,241 of those are students.

Posted in FirstLink Colleges | Leave a comment