Although some students signing up for classes this week have
complained about the confusion of the registration process,
administrators say the upgrade was necessary to uphold the
University’s contract with software company PeopleSoft.

LSA junior Ryan Bonneville, who registered Friday, said the new
Wolverine Access is a step backward from the old system.

“It’s kind of clumsy — I mean, they took out
the frames, so you can’t navigate very easily from page to
page,” Bonneville said. “The search is messy because it
will only return 200 results, so if you have to search an entire
department, you can’t.”

Despite such complaints, University administrators said
upgrading the system was necessary to maintain the
University’s long-standing contract with PeopleSoft and its
software programs.

The new Wolverine Access is part of the student administration
package licensed to the University by PeopleSoft, a commercial
software company that develops and sells enterprise software.

The package includes software for registration, student records,
grades, financial aid and transcripts, said Linda Green,
communication coordinator for Michigan Administrative Information
Services.

“It’s much bigger than what students see when they
go to Wolverine Access,” Green said. “There’s all
this other information behind the scene that goes into it and
that’s PeopleSoft.”

Green said the University has “a responsibility to
PeopleSoft to implement their current version of software in a
timely fashion so that they’re not supporting five- or
seven-year-old software.” Green said the current software
will be used for another three years.

“We want the system to work for students,” she said.
“That’s why we’re doing this. We want it to be
easy. We want it to be robust and functional for them.”

In addition to the student administration system, the University
purchased a financial system from PeopleSoft to handle general
ledgers and accounts, and a human resources system for staff
records and payroll benefits, Green said.

“The University has a long-term relationship with
PeopleSoft,” Green said. “They provide us with updated
tax code and federal and state tax information. They provide us
with federal financial aid information so that we stay compliant
with federal regulations for student loans. So we need
them.”

The University is hoping to collect feedback from students, MAIS
Communication Consultant Nancy Firestone said. But since the new
system is licensed from PeopleSoft, most changes to the software
may now be out of the University’s hands.

“Since it’s a vendor system we have less control
over it,” Firestone said. “We are going to try to put
out the best system we can, but the vendor does control certain
things.”

Other universities have experienced problems with
PeopleSoft’s enterprise software in recent years. Cleveland
State University began using PeopleSoft systems in 1995, the same
year as the University. However, the school’s experience was
less harmonious and its transition did not go as smoothly.

Cleveland State recently filed a $510 million lawsuit against
PeopleSoft and Kaludis Consulting Group, Inc. for fraud and
breaches of contract, among other reasons.

According to the Cleveland State lawsuit, PeopleSoft did not
fulfill its end of the contract and ended up costing the school
significant amounts of money.

“While I can’t comment on Cleveland State because of
the pending litigation, there’s no reason to tie that to the
other customers in the industry,” Lisa Sion, public relations
manager for higher education at PeopleSoft, said.

Sion said the company is a leader in the field.
“We’ve been in the field of higher education since 1987
when PeopleSoft was started,” Sion said. She added that the
company currently provides enterprise software for 730 colleges and
universities.

The University originally decided to replace its old system of
separate databases in 1995 with a new “enterprise-wide”
system – a single database with information from multiple
sources. This type of system can be accessed from many locations
and used for a variety of purposes, Green said.

Under the previous system — which was almost 30 years old
when the University decided to replace it — data could not be
accessed from one source, Green said.

For example, an address change required separate trips to the
Office of the Registrar, the financial aid office and an
employer’s office. Staff then entered the new information
into the system at each respective office, requiring extensive
paperwork and leaving students hoping their information was
processed correctly.

“Today, you do it, you do it once, and everyone who wants
it can get it,” Green added.

In June 2000, the University developed the original Wolverine
Access to replace the CRISP telephone-based class registration
system. Green said the University took it upon itself to build a
functional system for students because PeopleSoft did not have as
much experience with higher education at that point.

There may be changes in the future for PeopleSoft systems.
Oracle, a similar company, is attempting a “hostile
takeover,” according to Green. PeopleSoft declined
Oracle’s bid but Oracle continues to try to purchase stock
from shareholders directly.

PeopleSoft declined to comment on the buyout possibility and
Oracle was unavailable for comment.

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