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Planning for Continuity Planning

Over the years, we've developed many applications that live alongside our current student information system (SIS) and help our students, faculty and staff accomplish their tasks more efficiently. As we move forward with designing our new SIS, we must assess what will happen to each of those additional applications. 

For applications that rely on data from the SIS to function, or “downstream” applications, the work of determining what will happen to those applications falls to the Enterprise Systems Renewal (ESR) Continuity Planning team, led by Say-Ho Tan, IT Services’ Director of Research and Advancement Information Services, in partnership with the ISIS Replacement Project’s implementation and design teams. 

Say-Ho and I sat down to discuss the continuity planning process and what’s on his mind as he looks ahead to the implementation of our new SIS.

Choosing a Remediation Strategy

Say-Ho began our conversation by explaining continuity planning and the process that has been followed throughout the many ESR projects that have gone before the SIS Project, including Kuali Research, UCPath and Oracle Financials Cloud (OFC). At its heart, continuity planning is ensuring that our existing downstream business processes, which live within some application external to the SIS, continue to function as expected even after we have implemented the new student system and shut down our current system, ISIS.

This involves mapping the business objectives of the current processes and comparing them to the capabilities of the new system. This is a collaborative process, which includes not only Say-Ho and the technical owners of the applications being remediated, but also the business process owners, who have the deepest understanding of the objectives of the process. 

“We then ask: does the new system meet our needs out of the box? And there are three possible responses,” Say-Ho said, “yes, no, or maybe in a year or so.” Based on these answers, we choose and then deploy different remediation strategies to ensure a smooth transition. 

It's important to note that a single application may support multiple processes and continuity planning happens at the process level. This means that each process, rather than each application, will have a remediation strategy. Maybe every process in an application will have the same strategy, but maybe not.

Because we must know whether or not these processes can take place in the new system, “the rubber hits the road for continuity planning when we understand the functionality of the new system,” says Say-Ho. And, as we have recently begun the process design workshops for our new SIS, the rubber is about to hit the road.

Preparing for What’s Coming

While the work of continuity planning is about to begin in earnest, we have been preparing for continuity planning since 2019, when we first sent out a call for application owners to submit their data use and downstream applications to our master list. Within the last six months, we have also held 15 meetings with individual units to uncover additional processes and applications that may not have made it onto the list after the initial call, with more meetings planned for the coming months.

As the ISIS Replacement Project’s design team continues with process design workshops over the next year, we will learn more about the new SIS and begin to understand how we will leverage its many features. In time, this will also allow us to see how the Student Activity Hub (SAH) will be impacted by the project. These two pieces, deeply understanding the features of the new system and how the SAH will be impacted, are what Say-Ho needs to know to begin guiding units through the continuity planning process.

Until then, we will continue to prepare both ourselves and the wider community for the upcoming changes, including repeating the call for application and business process owners to add to our inventory master list. We will also continue meeting with divisions, schools, departments and units to help them understand the continuity planning process and prepare them for the future decisions they will make with Say-Ho.

Learning from the Past

“The good thing about this project,” said Say-Ho, “is that there are a lot more pieces in place than there were for past projects.” The tools that are critical for successful continuity planning, such as the Activity Hubs, are much more mature than they were for other ESR projects. Most importantly, Say-Ho now has a tried and true process for guiding application owners through every step of the continuity planning process, and most of those owners have been through the process at least once with him during previous projects. 

“We’re not building the plane as it is going down the runway this time,” says Say-Ho. “There are existing teams, processes, best practices and lessons learned.” There is robust support infrastructure in place to help everyone along the continuity planning journey.

Though that journey is just beginning for the new SIS, Say-Ho shared with me that he wants everyone with an application that needs information from the new SIS to know that they will not be alone as they navigate the upcoming changes. “We are here as partners and facilitators to make sure that business process needs are still met post new SIS go-live,” says Say-Ho.


Want to learn more about the continuity planning process? Visit the ESR Continuity Planning website. Not sure if your application is on the SIS Project continuity planning list? Reach out to Say-Ho for more information at


Category: Student & Faculty, News