A new software being implemented on campus starting in the spring will make President Fred Gainous’ “paperless” campus more of a reality.
The new software, the PeopleSoft Student Administration software, will not only cut down on the university’s use of paper, but also long lines and telephone calls for the Office of Admissions. It will enable the university to track high school prospects and current students to apply for institutional financial aid online. It may also help recruit more students to the university.
Mitchie Stewart, the interim director of admissions, said her department spends most of the day fielding calls and answering questions. Currently, prospects or returning students must call the admissions office to request applications. With PeopleSoft, applications can be completed online.
“The majority of our time is spent talking with students and parents, which is understandable, but we still need time to process applications,” Stewart said.
She said it is unknown how the software will help during the department’s peak season, usually from December to February.
The Enterprise Resource Planning team, a select group of FAMU employees, will oversee the online business software, which will help create a “paperless environment” at FAMU and allow students and faculty to access information.
Tracking future RattlersBarbara Cox, an ERP team member with expertise about the university’s admissions office, said the student administration software would decrease response time for inquires from all prospective students.
Cox also said the software would help the university track prospective students and stay in touch with them before and during the application process. Presently the university, according to Stewart, sends out hundreds of catalogs and applications per day, but the current system has no way of tracking these prospects.
“Right now people write to us, and we send them an application, but we don’t know who we have sent information to or if they are still interested,” Cox said. “FAMU recruiters will be able to contact potential students and have constant contact with them via the Internet, e-mail or the telephone.
“PeopleSoft will not replace the traditional road trips. It will just add a new tool for recruiting.”
Students to benefitIvenell Hewitt, an ERP student financials team member, said some of the new software features would be similar to Rattlerlink, but more reliable.Students will be able to retrieve information online 24 hours a day and have questions answered through e-mail – usually with a 24-hour response time.
“Who knows your needs better than you?” Hewitt asked. “Students are going to have to utilize the Web more in order to make this work.”
Students will be able to track their federal and institutional financial aid applications. Financial aid employees will use the software to continue to process loans and manage award distributions.
With PeopleSoft, students can request unofficial and official transcripts online. Presently, a request form must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office.
Freda Donald, interim financial aid director, said many of the current processes her department uses are already automated; It is just a matter of using the new business tool.
Access to general informationAccording to school officials, one of the key enhancements of the new software is the ability to interface and share information with other campus departments. Presently, many systems are not compatible and documents are hand delivered.
“One of the greatest benefits is that the right hand will know what the left hand is doing,” Donald said.
A change of local address made within the PeopleSoft system would instantaneously be updated in all relevant campus departments.
Currently, a change of address done in the Registrar’s Office may take weeks to show up in the financial aid office or not at all.
Helen Inman, an ERP financial aid team member, said that department hopes to introduce document scanners at the beginning of next year. This will help create more electronic files instead of the current system of passing folders within employees that contain sensitive documents.
Currently, every student that applies for financial aid has a folder created for them and financial information is passed around in the folder.
“This should take care of the problem of lost paperwork,” Inman said.
Donald also pointed out that the most time consuming process in the financial aid process is the manual verification of financial aid applications. She said the practice would continue with PeopleSoft.
Derrick Morgan can be reached at Buddyro353@yahoo.com