IRIS Project

Success for IRIS is ensuring that we remove as many obstacles and inconveniences as possible

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The one overwhelming message for participants in the IRIS program thus far has been that the program is all about learning how we might improve everyone’s experience at AUP. The learning has come in more ways than we expected, however. The vision for IRIS as spelled out in the 2020-23 strategic plan was ambitious. It was not simply a program of renovation and replacement for every administrative software application, but it was aggressive in its budget and allocation of time. As Tim Rogers pointed out in the last campus-wide message, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Here are some of the “enemies” our plans have encountered:
Enemy: Renovation and replacement
The program of renovation and replacement makes sense where AUP has an existing system, but we have many functions, such as human resources, budgeting, financial planning and analysis, financial aid, facilities management, accreditation, data management, data warehousing, and strategic planning that have never benefited from an enterprise software system. For these we have been working from scratch, building the plane as we fly it, as the saying goes.
Enemy: Ambitious budget and timetables
Starting from scratch involves false starts and slow progress, and it helps to have a deep bench of talent at every position. At AUP, most positions are unique, and Murphy (of the infamous Murphy’s Law) has a talent for combining false starts and a shallow bench to create surprises. These surprises have a negative impact on an ambitious budget and timetable. We have had to make adjustments to our plans to keep the program on track without causing havoc to the budget or the timeline.
Enemy: Integration
When integrating, we need everything to work together, and we need everyone to work together. We don’t have a strong history of cross-functional work or interdepartmental governing bodies. As we implement the IRIS program, we are creating these bodies and collaborative functions as just-in-time resources. As a result, the technology is the least interesting and demanding part of the program. Rather, it is the development of policy, process, and principles that take the time and attention of the participants.
What the plan outlined was nothing less than a complete overhaul of the way the university manages its business with the intent to relieve its employees, students, and families of as many inconveniences as possible. Success is more than renovation and replacement, budgets or timetables, or even integration. Success for IRIS is ensuring that we remove as many obstacles and inconveniences as possible to make the university better even after the launches.