Book by Don Hossler
Review by Denise L. Wyatt
Office of Teacher Education, School of Education
This book caught my attention right away. I have been involved for the past 5 years in the conversion of our university’s student information system (SIS) from a home grown DOS based system to an “off the shelf” windows based system. How and why would trustees, presidents, provosts, and financial officers decide to invest resources -- money, personnel, and time -- to the tune of millions of dollars to change from a system that, from a staff perspective, was working just fine? What could administrators have done differently to make the transition to a new system go smoother? Or, did they do everything realistically possible? These are just some of the questions I hoped this book could answer and it did just that.
The authors begin with explaining what the SIS fuss is about as they provide a brief history of the emergence of computer-based administrative systems and how they have become the lifeblood of institutions over the past 25 years. Then authors delve into the “real” costs of implementing an SIS by describing it as a three phase process: acquisition, implementation and post-implementation. Each of these phases is then broken down into greater detail. Finally, the book reminds the reader that even though the four to five year implementation process is done and the system is up and running, the challenges are not really over. The level of effort it takes to perform major upgrades, not to mention just keeping pace with minor system changes, is never ending.
When comparing this book to other publications like Enterprise System Implementations: Lessons from the Trenches or Enterprise-Wide System Implementation at Multi-campus institutions, Editor Hossler guides text authors to touch upon numerous lessons learned. These lessons include: campuses need to consider structure and business process reengineering early in the process; executive leadership is key to success; training and time to master the complexities of the new software is critical; communication to all stakeholders is a must; having a detailed, realistic, well-maintained project plan is critical to the success of the implementation; and success of the implementation is directly attributed to teams of dedicated, enthusiastic people.
Is reading this book worth an advisor’s valuable time? The answer is “yes” if the advisor is involved with the selection and implementation of a new institutional software system or will be involved with a major system upgrade in the near future. For these advisors this book can be a helpful resource for understanding, planning, and implementing even a small office specific software upgrade.
Enterprise System Implementations: Lessons from the Trenches. (1999). Jack McCredie & Dan Updegrove, CAUSE/EFFECT Journal, V. 22 Number 4.
Enterprise-Wide System Implementations at Multicampus Institutions. (2005). Norma Brenner Holland & Laurie Sullivan, EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research: Research Bulletin, V. 2005 Issue 4.
Building a Student Information System: Strategies for Success and Implications for Campus Policy Makers. (2007) Book by Don Hossler (Ed)., Review by Denise L. Wyatt. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 88 pp., $29.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-0-7879-9607-9