Breaking the Ice: Organizational Culture and the Implementation of a Student Management System

Breaking the Ice: Organizational Culture and the Implementation of a Student Management System

Lindsay H. Stuart, Ulrich Remus, Annette M. Mills
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3619-4.ch001
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This case explores the challenges of implementing an enterprise system (ES) across a university with a diverse organizational culture. This teaching case describes the process through which Southern University sought to implement the Delta student management system (SMS) and the challenges encountered due to the university’s organizational culture. The project team ran into a change resistant culture with organizational units that enjoyed autonomy in their business processes. Rather than attend to various needs by customizing the system, the project team implemented a plain version of the system. Although this approach ensured the project team was able to complete the implementation on time and within budget, it left behind many dissatisfied users and organizational members, and created resistance within the organization toward the system. Therefore, this case provides opportunities for students to discuss the impact of organizational culture and user resistance on IS implementations as well as the merits and limitations of the strategies employed by the project team to ensure the new system was implemented on time and within budget.
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This teaching case examines Southern University’s implementation of the Delta student management system (SMS) and the challenges encountered due to the organization’s culture. The Delta SMS was deemed a central system for the university and involved an organization-wide implementation effort. The university had recognized a need to replace its legacy system because the Vice-Chancellor at the time felt that he did not have the financial information needed to effectively run the university. The legacy system was also unstable and no longer cost effective to maintain, while the new Delta SMS could be expected to deliver an improved student experience, while automating enrollment and improving efficiency.

A steering committee was established to investigate possible options for the university and develop a request for proposal from system vendors. The committee then evaluated several different systems before selecting the Delta SMS as preferred system. The proposal to implement the Delta SMS was drawn up, and in 2004, the decision made to go ahead and implement the system. In late 2004 the implementation began and the SMS went live in October, 2005 in time for the new semester’s enrollment. The project was wrapped up in 2006 and passed over to a team in the Student Administration department who were responsible for its ongoing management. A chronology of the Delta SMS implementation is presented in Table 1.

Table 1.
Southern University implementation timeline
1998Jack Collins becomes Vice Chancellor taking over from Tom Wellesley
December, 2000The Student Administration Reference Group publishes report about the requirements of users and the university for a future SMS.
2001Student Working Group formally gathers to examine requirements and specifications for a new SMS.
September, 2001University publicly announces that they are in a severe financial position
February, 2002The Green Book is published by the UC Student Working Group which documents the desired requirements for a new SMS
25 February, 2003The Chair of the Working Group urges the COO to issue the RFP for the new SMS
May, 2003RFP sent out
June, 2003Deadline for vendor proposals in response to RFP
12 different vendor proposals received
July 2003 – February, 2004Working group evaluates different proposals
Investigatory field trips are conducted
March, 2004Recommendation for Delta as preferred vendor
Project management team setup
April – August, 2004Gap analysis conducted by project team
Selection of full project team
Appointment of Quality Assurance consultant
Development of project plan and budget
September, 2004University council signs off on Delta SMS
Contract signed with Delta
Implementation plan completed
October, 2004Project begins with full project team and top level staff drafted in
November, 2004 – October, 2005Project deadline cut from February 2006 to October 2005
Consultation with university departments
Data migration, data cleansing
System configuration, development of web interface and system interface
Hardware setup
August, 2005Training begins
September, 2005Student usability testing
4 October, 2005Go Live
October, 2005 – March, 2006Continuing data migration
Continuing development of web interface

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