A team in the Information Technology Department took on the massive task of migrating Colleague, which houses the finance, HR and student systems, from an Oracle database to a Microsoft SQL. Their exceptional work on this important project led to them being named this year’s recipients of the Dave Sarther Teamwork Award.

The team included Randy Basick, director of Infrastructure and Network Services; Likhit Devkota, manager of Enterprise Systems; David Edwards, applications support specialist; Eric Harms, senior web developer; Adam Maca, information security specialist; Deb Malkinson, senior applications developer; Jim Norris, system administrator; Kevin Rizzo, IT operations coordinator; Janet Saweres, senior applications developer; Nathan Schneider, application services manager; James Tse, applications developer; Sherita Tyler, director of Enterprise Applications and Web Services; and John Wagrowski, network architect.

Basick nominated the project because it will result in a significant cost savings for the college, provide superior redundancy for disaster recovery scenarios and modernize the systems. Its launch required the dedicated efforts of this team. Planning for the migration started two years before it took place. The team members, who normally have different areas of responsibility within their department, met multiple times each week to plan the project’s three phases – pre-migration, migration and post-migration.

“This project affected Colleague, the brain of the IT systems for the college, so having all of the players involved to make sure everything attached to it was being accounted for was important,” Basick said. “Our biggest concerns were making sure students could register and take classes and employees got paid.”

To ensure the launch was successful, the team developed a detailed checklist of tasks for each person to complete.
“We had to map out every step, including testing and migration,” Tyler said. “I have a chart that summarizes all of them. There were 7,000 tables, over 500 code packages and over 300 reports that had to be migrated.”

Basick added, “We had to keep all operations moving forward so nothing that would affect faculty, staff or students got left behind. We instituted checks and balances to make sure everything was migrated properly.”

The team tested the migration process multiple times before the launch date.

“We had a database set up specifically for us to practice in. We went through the entire migration process in a pre-migration environment to figure out what needed to be tweaked or modified,” Tyler said. “Once we did that, we did the whole process again because we were trying to determine how we could make it all happen in a small window of time. There’s no way we would have been able to complete the project without collaboration.”

The team involved users in Finance, Student Development and HR to help them conduct tests. After each test, the team revisited their plan and project details.

“We’re grateful to those departments who assisted with the testing and were patient through the whole process,” Tyler said.

To keep the project organized over the two years leading up to the launch, the team used Microsoft Planner.

“We had everything mapped out so well in the planner that our Ellucian consultants were extremely impressed with our teamwork and wanted to use our team’s planning as the standard for some of their other clients. That was a nice compliment. It showed we were doing the right things,” Basick said.

The team also designed and implemented communication plans for faculty, staff and students, which included letting them know that Colleague would be down for one week during the migration, which was successfully executed during the five days of spring break.

Basick highlighted in his nomination that the project would not have been a success without teamwork.

“The No. 1 thing we needed was for everybody to work together, collaborating and communicating,” he said.

“It was a huge undertaking, and I’m proud of how well it turned out. I can’t over-emphasize the extraordinary amount of coordination it took from everyone. I’ll always be grateful I was on that team.”

The team members were proud to learn their work on the migration project was recognized with the Dave Sarther Teamwork Award.

“It was the project of a lifetime, and I am really happy for everyone that we won the award. It’s extremely well deserved,” Basick said.