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  • System Performance Upgrade Passes with High Marks


    Who is MCCCD?

    Maricopa County Community Colleges District Office, (MCCCD), is a higher education group serving over 10 accredited colleges and more than 220,000 students each year in Maricopa County, Arizona.

    Since 2013, MSS Business Transformation Advisory (MSSBTA) has worked with MCCCD and the Information Technology Services (ITS) division. ITS is responsible for supporting the academic and administrative mission of MCCCD by providing reliable, accessible, and secure enterprise systems and infrastructure.

    ABOUT:

    Maricopa County Community Colleges District

    10 higher education institutions located throughout Maricopa County

    220,000+ students; 10,000+ employees

    The Challenge

    MCCCD was operating a legacy, unsupported versions of Oracle software, used to operate colleges within the district. To avoid losing maintenance and support from their software vendor, MCCCD embarked on a major upgrade to their mission critical Student Information System (SIS). The SIS is primarily responsible for the management of all student and faculty data including, but not limited to, class scheduling, integrations to payroll, and academic financial aid. This was a full-scale upgrade that would require multiple changes and would significantly impact the organization.

    The goal of the update was to increase connectivity speeds for student-teacher interactions and allow more users to log in to the system simultaneously. This upgrade needed to withstand system peak loads: 2 weeks of class registration and scheduling for each Spring and Fall semester.

    How MSSBTA Helped with System Performance

    Through Leadership, Governance, and Accountability (LGA), vendor, and project management, MSSBTA conducted thorough testing of the new system upgrade. The system testing covered two overarching categories: functionality and performance.

    Functionality testing included walkthroughs of the software platform where testers performed daily tasks using teacher and student personas. This effort also included testing of 50 concurrent working connections to the in-scope software platforms. For example, to make a payment, students would need to use the financial services system, Nelnet. This meant integration connection to and from Nelnet needed to operate at full capacity for testing to be successful.

    System performance testing also measured the bandwidth that the applications could hold during hours of heavy usage. MSSBTA conducted testing by placing a load on the system to see how the application would perform. When performance testing failed, MSSBTA would work closely with Oracle, handle escalations and implement major changes. Specifically, the system performance testing indicated that the response time was unacceptable, and Oracle needed to make major changes to ensure the performance could handle peak load. These performance issues had to be rectified prior to going into productive.

    This engagement involved daily meetings managing Oracle, and continued testing daily, until Oracle added enough hardware to ensure the software passed the testing with successful results. Due to the Leadership, Governance and Oversight provided by MSSBTA, MCCCD was able to go live within two weeks of the originally projected go live date but with the acceptable required system performance results.

    System Performance Exceeds Expectations

    MCCCD leveraged MSSBTA to get the vendor aligned to their goals, objectives and system performance expectations resulting in the deployment of a system with significantly improved speed/load times and an increase in the number of simultaneous system users. The system upgrade was deployed successfully at the next peak loads for Spring and Fall semesters and supported the business as expected.

    DELIVERABLES:

    Project Implementation

    Process Improvements

    Vendor Management

    Functionality Testing

    Performance Testing

    Advisory Services


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