A New Curriculum

By Deborah Gage  |  Posted 2004-06-08 Print this article Print

A New Curriculum

During the last three months, technology projects are going more smoothly at Stanford, according to Handley. Although the campus is still adapting its processes to Oracle, the "behavioral changes" required to use PeopleSoft are complete. In addition, an upgrade to Oracle v. 11.5.9 in April finished a day early because the project manager was assigned to Calandra, who could tell technology staff exactly what the controllers office needed. "By September, we should have most of the functionality people would have expected [from Oracle] in the beginning," Handley says.

Now faced with budget cuts and layoffs, Stanfords information technology department has successfully sent coding and maintenance work to outsourcing firms in India, which are helping with Oracle report writing and an upgrade to PeopleSoft v. 8. Jobs that require deeper knowledge of Stanford, such as writing specifications, have been kept at home.

Communication has improved between the information technology and budget departments. In anticipation of what Clebsch calls the budget groups "edict," the technology department approached Chip Gliedman, an analyst at Forrester Research, who helped Stanford develop a system for evaluating projects called Total Economic Impact (TEI).

Corporate customers have been using the system for six or seven years, Gliedman says, but it needed modifying for higher education, which uses different metrics, such as the cost of attracting an application for enrollment, to measure success. So before the technology department submits a project for funding, the department must now calculate costs (how long will it take the staff to learn the new software?), benefits (how much time will the staff ultimately save?) and risks (what if the staff wants more features and the provost gives in?) over a five-year period.

No project approved under the new system is yet finished, and the process is still being tweaked. Calandra, who sits on the budget group, says TEI does not address how many things people can work on at one time or how much change the campus can absorb. She has also asked the information technology department to simplify its presentations.

But all agree that TEI has been very helpful in forcing the university to find and quantify costs and benefits. If one administrative support person working with either Oracle or PeopleSoft can save five minutes per transaction, the time will add up and that person can be free to do something else.

And should Oracle succeed in acquiring PeopleSoft and force Stanford to change its technology, TEI may prove critical. Thats because the work that Stanford has gone through to get the software functioning would then have to be done again.

Next Page: Stanford Base Case.

Senior Writer
Based in Silicon Valley, Debbie was a founding member of Ziff Davis Media's Sm@rt Partner, where she developed investigative projects and wrote a column on start-ups. She has covered the high-tech industry since 1994 and has also worked for Minnesota Public Radio, covering state politics. She has written freelance op-ed pieces on public education for the San Jose Mercury News, and has also won several national awards for her work co-producing a documentary. She has a B.A. from Minnesota State University.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel