Grace Amsden, Senior Reporter
A new software system called ctcLink is on its way to Pierce College, originally scheduled to go live Jan. 30, 2017. As of Nov. 4, the software’s launch date was delayed due to its large-scale implementation, Chancellor Michele Johnson said in an email sent to the college community.
The college’s processes, such as for cashiering, payroll and Financial Aid, will be linked to this system. Students will also register for classes through ctcLink.
“It is the chief piece of software that we use on a day-to-day basis to track everything about the college,” Vice President of Administration Services Choi Halladay said. “Pretty much most employees, someway on a daily basis, (will) actually interact with it.”
The project was a decision made by the state, and is managed by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Vendors bid on the project in 2012 through a request for proposal, according to sbctc.edu.
“It was an agreement amongst all 34 colleges that everybody was going to convert over (to ctcLink), and individual colleges did not have a choice to opt out,” Paula Henson- Williams, ctcLink project director and district affirmative action officer at Pierce, said.
The transition to ctcLink between all 34 community colleges will be phased in three stages. The system is already being utilized at Spokane Community College, Spokane Falls Community College and Tacoma Community College. These are considered the Firstlink colleges, as they switched to ctcLink in August 2015, according to sbctc.edu.
Pierce is in the first wave, which means that on Jan. 30, ctcLink would have gone live, along with the other wave one colleges including Clark College, Columbia Basin College and Peninsula College. Wave two will launch later in 2017 and wave three in 2018. The hold was placed because of the excessive need for increased testing, training and work on other projects, Executive Director of SBCTC Marty Brown said in an email.
Once ctcLink goes live, the current system, Legacy, which is about 40 years old, will discontinue. The PeopleSoft platform will take its place.
“It will be a lot more user-friendly and interactive from the user’s standpoint, whereas now, like when students register, a lot of that is staff-driven versus being a self-service product,” Henson-Williams said. “The PeopleSoft platform is really meant to be a self-service platform for not just students, but also for staff members.”
The three pillars within PeopleSoft include campus solutions (student services), human capital management (human resources and payroll) and finance, referring to transactions for the institution, Henson-Williams said.
After Jan. 30, students will create an ID number for their ctcLink account, which can be used among the other community and technical colleges in Washington state. This will be utilized instead of the normal student ID number.
“It’s an integrated system,” Henson-Williams said. “All 34 community and technical colleges will be able to, let’s say, access your student record if you were attending TCC. The staff at TCC would be able to see your student information in addition to the staff at Pierce College.”
The system is designed for modern and easier communication between the community and technical colleges in Washington state, Halladay said, such as in the viewing of transcripts. CtcLink will provide an option for which portal the individual would like to enter corresponding with the institute.
“We do have students who take classes at multiple colleges at the same time – it just works better for them in their schedules,” Halladay said. “It allows them to see all of their information about all of their registrations and everything else with a single portal.”
Pierce staff members will also create a ctcLink ID number. For those who work at other colleges besides Pierce, their information will be stored in this single system.
The transition to ctcLink comes with challenges, Halladay said. For example, it can be due to learning how to use ctcLink compared to the previous system.
Currently, the Pierce ctcLink implementation team is working on the correction of data. This can mean making sure that student information is coded correctly and in the correct field. The hope is to make the data as accurate as possible when it’s converted to PeopleSoft, Henson-Williams said.
“It takes time to clean up six years of data,” Henson-Williams said. “We’re only going back six years, we’re not trying to clean up all of our data. We’re only going to convert six years of our data.”
A communication plan is currently in progress in order to inform students about ctcLink and the steps they’ll need to take, which will take its form through emails, posters and written information throughout campus.
Once ctcLink goes live, the system can be accessed through the Pierce College website.
The long-term goal of the project is to provide a student-friendly, interactive platform, Henson-Williams said.
“We still have some work to do, but if you think about it, January is not far off – it’s right around the corner,” Henson-Williams said. “As long as everything stays on track at the state level, we’re pushing forward to Jan. 30.”
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