University Web Developers

University Web Developers

With Chancellor Zimpher and the Board of Trustees talking about Shared Services across SUNY, or more particular within regions of SUNY, I think this raises an interesting opportunity.

To start, I am not against the concept of shared services as a starting point.  I would like to compete and concentrate on the higher-value concepts at my institution, and leave more mundane and compliance chores to the system.  However, I think there are examples of shared services that have existed for years, and I think we need to include in the discussion of shared service the issue of their quality.

I can identify three shared services across the system today that impact the Web, that we need to drive feedback back to system so they can be improved. If these model the future of shared services, then it will bode ill for us all.

The Undergraduate Application.  SUNY mandates that we all use their online application, though its exclusivity has waned.  I've heard argument the only reason they do this at all is because the application fee is a funding stream for System that they can't give up.  To me, the biggest missed opportunity here is that we can't flag information on the link to the application that takes a prospective student to the application.  If we've identified the student as interested in major X, we can't flag that so the application automatically adds that interest, or prompts the student for that.  Similarly, if they got to the application from Brockport, that campus isn't automatically added to the list they're applying for.  We're expecting them to remember these things and choose from a list.  System has no incentive to improve the performance of its online applicaiton, since they're only interested in revenue.

SUNY HR. The new HR system used across the System is a piece of crap.  They give us all the data, but outside of the table names and the field names, we have no documentation as to how the system is designed to work.  When they change things, they don't tell us.  (This was worse when we were still using the old HRMS system, and the SUNY HR data was being backported to the old system, and they weren't giving us data from the new system directly.)  They over-promise and under-deliver.  They don't share the documentation. They don't open up the field to suggested improvements. We pull this data to produce our online directory, and when we identify problems with special cases, any general fix might cause 10 other problems, because of this lack of documentation.

Net Price Calculator.  SUNY to the rescue, comply with federal mandates.  Does no one at System understand web accessibility?  Our use of the SUNY system as documented and implemented is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

How can we get quality feedback into the process here to improve these tools?  If these portend shared services for the system, I would be surprised in 10 years if the system *doesn't* go bankrupt, not for financial crisis, but for the inability of basic operations to function.

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