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Implementing a New Financial Aid System

In our February 2022 article, Managing Project Scope, we noted that financial aid and scholarships is one of the in-scope areas for the SIS project and therefore an area where we expect to see significant change as a result of the SIS project. To support making improvements to the student experience in the area of financial aid and scholarships, we will be replacing our current financial aid system, Pro Student Aid Management (ProSAM), with a new system, Oracle Student Financial Planning (SFP). 

During the Conference Room Pilot sessions held as part of the first request for proposal for a new student information system (SIS), the team had the opportunity to see Oracle SFP in action. Then discussions were held with stakeholders to determine if SFP would meet our financial aid needs. Once it was determined that Oracle SFP was the right system for us, the University was able to leverage an existing agreement between UCLA and Oracle to purchase SFP and, since then, the SIS project team has been working closely with leaders and stakeholders to prepare for implementation. 

As part of that preparation, we have been mapping the current state of all financial aid-related processes, reaching out to other universities who have implemented SFP to learn from their experiences, and working with project stakeholders to determine their readiness for beginning implementation.

Current State Process Mapping

Since October 2021, the Financial Aid and Scholarships office and Health Sciences Financial Aid office have been meeting with the project team several times every week to deep dive into the financial aid-related processes. First, we did a thorough review of the process maps that were captured as part of the original SIS project scope, and then we augmented the landscape to include all of the financial aid processes that are performed in combination with ProSAM, Access databases, custom scripts, production control runs and other ITS systems. 

To date, we have added 40 new Level 3 process areas, some with up to 15 variations! Along this journey, we are making sure to include the unique business processes for Health Sciences and have started to layer in the critical and complex work that the Graduate Division Financial Support Unit provides, as well. 

The business of these Financial Aid teams is so complex, of such high volume and has such a substantial impact on students that it is critical we get it right. This comprehensive business process mapping will serve the implementation team well in addressing the purpose and design of the functions in the new system.

Lessons Learned

As part of preparation for the SFP implementation, the project team has been meeting regularly with representatives from universities that are already using SFP, including Michigan State, Butler and Rutgers, as well as universities in the midst of implementing SFP like UCLA. As part of these discussions, we have gained many insights and feedback that will be extremely valuable for our own SFP implementation, including:

  • SFP provides automation that can bring significant benefits, but requires careful prototyping and configuration to ensure we are automating where it makes sense and will meet our needs.
  • Participation from the impacted units will be critical to the success of the project.
  • SFP has matured a great deal over the past couple of years, with Oracle putting significant resources into stabilizing the application and focusing on fixing bugs to pave the way for new features.
  • Where SFP may lack the features we need, workarounds or external solutions will be required unless Oracle is able to implement these features in a timeframe that works for us.

Our proposed timeline and staffing plan for the project has also been vetted by other universities and consultants who have been through a full implementation of SFP, and they helped us in refining our timeline and expected deliverables.

Readiness Criteria

An important tool the SIS project team is building into planning for each of the new projects within the SIS project ecosystem is a stakeholder-driven readiness evaluation. The financial aid project stakeholders were the first to pilot this approach. In late 2021, the project team met with key stakeholders who would be involved in the implementation of the new financial aid system and asked them: What criteria must be met for you and your teams to be ready to take on this project? 

Over the course of a few months, the stakeholders met to discuss this question and developed a list of three key criteria that would need to be met in order for the project to begin:

  • The units involved in the project planning and execution must be operating with sufficient staff to maintain ongoing operations
  • The backfill for staff members working directly on the project must be hired and trained, with at least 2-3 months required for sufficient training 
  • The units involved in the project execution must have stabilized from the implementation of the new financial information system

The criteria were then presented to the SIS project governance committee and executive sponsor, who accepted the readiness criteria as presented by the stakeholders. Since then, the SIS project team has been meeting regularly with the stakeholders for updates on progress toward meeting the criteria, which are then shared with the governance committee and leaders of the units who will be involved in the implementation.

Next Steps

On June 1st, the project stakeholders and leaders will be asked to make a go/no-go decision, based on achievement of or progress towards the readiness criteria. At that point, the project will either move forward or will be rescheduled for a future date that aligns with the yearly financial aid calendar and the other ongoing implementations within the SIS project ecosystem and by which the readiness criteria will have been met.

Until then, the SIS project team continues to support the project stakeholders in achieving the readiness criteria for beginning project implementation, as well as to prepare as much as possible through current state process mapping and learning from other institutions who have implemented Oracle SFP.

Have questions or concerns about the new financial aid system implementation? Reach out to us at

Category: News, Student & Faculty