F&M launched Inside F&M in December.
Inside F&M is a web portal that replaces MyDiplomat for managing student and academic information, along with human resources, finances, and admission.
Inside F&M is a part of the larger Project BOOST, F&M’s Enterprise Resource Planning Project that launched in January 2012 to upgrade software systems managing student, academic, and other information, along with some newer features, such as targeted announcements affecting students and College employees, and gateway access to F&M Google Mail and calendar.
There is a mobile app version of Inside F&M that will be released to the F&M community by the 2013 to 2014 school year.
Starting in March, F&M students will be able to make their course selections online via Inside F&M for the Fall Semester 2013 using a streamlined system that will provide real-time access to course availability and eliminate paperwork related to course changes for the Registrar.
As in the past, students will meet and receive advising codes from their academic advisers in order to register online.
However, the system will also be able to check prerequisites for classes in order to determine student eligibility for the classes students pick.
This greatly differs from the old system for course registration, in which a complex algorithm organized academic schedules and forced students to wait for two weeks before finding out their class schedules.
Chris Alexander, registrar and associate director of institutional research and a leader of the Project BOOST implementation team, explained the new system gives students immediate feedback on whether they are enrolled in their first choices for courses.
In the event students do not receive their first choices, the system allows them to choose alternates right away and allows students to avoid standing in long lines to make changes to their schedules.
“There is less work involved for the Registrar and students are given the opportunity to do more on their own,” Alexander said. “It’s more efficient and there are fewer pieces of paper involved at the Registrar’s office.”
The total project is expected to cost around $6 million spread out over the course of four years from 2012 to 2015.
The $6 million includes the cost of the software, training, consulting fees, hardware and salaries for temporary employees who will assume portions of the day-to-day workload of the implementation team.
The project and its ongoing operating costs are and will be funded entirely by College funds.
Inside F&M is considered an ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning. This is the term for a system that manages the internal and external resources of an organization utilizing a single software system and a single database.
In many colleges and universities, standard ERP applications typically include student and academic information, financial aid, human resources, financial management, admission, and college advancement.
F&M decided to change the old MyDiplomat system to Inside F&M after conducting a survey of 53 similar colleges and universities to F&M and discovering only three that had a system as old as the one at F&M, with none of them using the system F&M had in place at the time.
Futhermore, the 2009 Accreditation Report F&M received from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education recommended the College prioritize replacing its current ERP with a more advanced system.
After F&M assessed its systems and discovered that many of the Departments duplicate work and manually provide analysis that should be integrated and more easily created in one main system.
The project will run until 2015, but the end of the 2013 to 2014 school year the majority of the integrations and major work should be completed.
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