Proposed OAK Projects - 2016 Skip Navigation

Proposed OAK Projects for Public Review and Commentary.

Proposed Projects

The public commentary period for the OAK Initiative's 2016 proposed project portfolio has ended. We would like to thank the many contributors for providing valuable insight and input as we work to improve transparency and solicit participation from the Colgate community. 

The following projects have been submitted to the OAK committee for consideration. We invite the Colgate community to review these proposed projects and provide your comments of support, constructive analysis and critic and any insights you have to offer regarding these proposed projects. Your comments will help to hone these proposals in preparation for their final approval and prioritization.

Click the survey link next to each project to provide feedback. 

New Portal  


  • Develop an effective hub for faculty, staff and students online resources.
  • Provide a common single sign on experience to access extranet services (e.g. Gartner, Lynda, etc.).
  • Provide role based content presentation.
  • Engage a tool to establish these objectives that is extensible, cross-platform and future forward.


This project includes a substantial effort to move faculty, staff and student content intended for an internal audience (e.g. policies, internal forms) off the public website and into the portal. Specifically, communications that are not necessarily appropriate for an external audience such as crisis support, facility hours and announcements and internal notifications could be properly segmented. Further, the establishment of an intranet portal creates a demarcation between the purpose and intent of Colgate’s public website (marketing and information) and the functional data that drives the machinery of the University, as the priorities of each are clearly different.

The current portal serves as a landing page for numerous services and is a gateway to a variety of critical faculty, student and staff resources including Concur, Banner Self-Service, Tableau and several dashboards. The underlying technology behind Colgate’s portal (uPortal) is difficult to maintain and requires a security upgrade. Limitations with old technology represents a severe technical “debt”, limiting flexibility and requiring significant resources to make minor changes.

In an effort to retire the current portal, ITS has already migrated student employment functions and admission applicant features.

Data Use Support


- Improve the accessibility and usability of existing institutional data.
- Facilitate more informed  decision making through improve documentation of potential data sources.
- Define end-user access (permissions) parameters clearly and inherently.
- Provide an analysis of current processes and ownership.
- Develop a policy to address data ownership, rights, and privileges to data.
- Resolve any issues in conflict data warehouse processes.
- Provide clarity regarding the appropriate and responsible use of Colgate’s data.
- Create a repository articulating data ownership.
- Provide a public system for managing data access requests from campus constituents, with clear standards for review that is appropriate for the nature of the information requested.
- Determine, as policy, what access is acceptable and / or produce a governance process to review access guidelines.
- Migrate to SQL Server 2016 to provide faster processing and more modern development techniques.
- Standardize on the use of Microsoft’s SSIS for data extraction, transformation and loading into the warehouse.
- Implement programming standards, develop data-driven techniques, build reusable code and hone our iterative development methodology to speed development and ensure long-term maintainability.
- Build capacity of likely and potential system users with the campus the community, through training and outreach.


The ability for key campus constituents to use institutional data when considering important decisions is contingent on their knowledge of the existence of relevant data, timely access to that data in a manner that is consistent with the users needs, and a deep and sometimes nuanced understanding of decision-relevant data.

Without well-defined and commonly understood data, results can be misinterpreted or inaccurately portrayed. Well-defined and well-constructed integrated data resources coupled with appropriate distribution tools can turn our data into an asset for all members of the Colgate community. We have dipped our toe in the water with the initial roll out of the data warehouse and Tableau. We’re faced with the question of how to scale our support for data-informed decision-making going forward. We believe the successful completion of the Data Use Support project will provide a framework for doing just that.

The four key components and objectives of this project are found below.

Data Dictionary

The Office of Institutional Planning and Research recommends that a formal structure should be developed and adopted that provides detailed information about the myriad variables in Banner and other key institutional data sources. Specific areas to address include the data warehouse; parallel data sources; and cross listing of related definitions. These facets are traditionally organized in a data dictionary.

A data dictionary is an information set that describes the contents, format, and structure of a database and the relationship between database elements. A data dictionary provides well structured and clear information about a database and is especially useful for large databases with numerous tables, views and indices.

A data dictionary should provide a reference for current data definitions and related fields to identify the most appropriate field or fields to use for reporting, research and institutional decision making. Data should be organized by content area. Additionally, the structure of a data dictionary should be designed with the end user in mind.  

Data Access Policy

The Office of Institutional Planning and Research recommends that clear and forward facing expectations and rights are defined with regard to how institutional data can be used by members of the community. Moreover,  a transparent process by which requests and decisions are made should be implemented. Currently, what defines a data owner, who data owners are and who owns “sets” of data is unclear and no central reference exists.

Survey Access Management

A variety of survey data is collected across campus that may serve to inform decision making and research. This project proposes to research a methodology to manage access to survey data. Specifically, who can see what information and for what purposes can data be used.

Technical and Process Improvements

We need to upgrade our data warehouse technical environment and development methodologies to improve the speed to deliver solutions and to ensure fast response time for our solution.

Digital Gate Card


  • To give students the ability to carry around only a cell phone by implementing a mobile application to function in all aspects as a Student ID (Gate Card).
  • The current Gate Card has multiple technologies for identification, including a barcode, swipe, and proximity. The technology chosen should allow for all current uses.
  • Allow students to pay for meals, check out library resources, verify identity as a Colgate student,  use Gate cash, and allow access to buildings.


Students frequently are inconvenienced by a lost or forgotten Gate Card, leaving them unable to access dining halls, their residence hall, pick up packages from the mail room, and other basic needs. This application would give students an alternate way of maintaining this access while their Gate Card is misplaced or being replaced. The idea is not to replace the Gate Card, but to give an alternate way of accessing daily needs with a smartphone only.

Because of the varying technologies involved in the current functionality of Gate Cards, the application and personal device hosting the application should be able to retain these functions, including a barcode, swiping ability, and proximity technology.

Admission CRM  


  • An increase in inquiry conversion to applicants and then deposited students.
  • Data driven decision making with regard to resource allocation.
  • The removal of four disparate systems.
  • Human error reduction.
  • A reduction in the practice of reporting against multiple data sources and historical records.
  • A reduction in integration issues.
  • Alignment of processes and procedures to increase Admission conversion success.
  • Paperwork reduction through scanning, digitization and electronic submission.
  • A reduction in the conversion timeline.
  • Successful integration with electronic records sources (e.g. College Board, ACT, FAFSA, Profile et. al)
  • A reduction in the time and effort expended for admission application review.
  • Data driven decision making.
  • A visual approach to admission application review.
  • A reduction in errors and paper management.


The Office of Admission manages tens of thousands of inquiries and applicants each year. Managing these constituents at the inquiry stage is provided, in part, by Target X. Currently, there are no well-defined linkages established between an inquiry, an applicant and a deposited student. Applicant tracking is managed using diverse, decentralized methods that are inefficient and divert resources from other potential recruiting efforts.

A robust methodology to manage relationships and communication with these constituent groups is essential and will positively contribute to improving conversion rates and continuing to enroll high quality students. In the competitive, small to medium liberal arts marketplace, a CRM tool is a key differentiator - providing better management, better information, more timely communications, and a well-defined organizational pattern for managing the student life cycle.

Components of constituent management identified by Admission include: better two-way communication, more timely notifications, inclusion in appropriate marketing materials at the right time, and a checklist for students to indicate, and potentially submit, required documents. Additionally, event management and financial aid package management have been identified as project requirements.

Financial Aid package management includes the submission and confirmation of receipt for important FA documents required during the Admission evaluation process.

This project’s scope contains additional requirements pertaining to the establishment of an Admission Portal. A portal is perceived to be a window into the CRM that provides a user interface to serve as an interactive, communications platform that provides access to checklists, marketing materials, two-way communication and other process documents and information.

This project’s scope contains the methodologies required to manage admission applications.The interaction with these applications coupled with the significant manual labor to review applications is highly inefficient. Additionally, a necessary component used to store and manage admission applications, Nolij, is nearing it’s end of life (2018). This project proposal is further driven by data integration issues experienced during the deployment and operation of TargetX, and the massive complexity of the current solution set making it difficult to maintain.

Time spent reviewing and processing applications is significant and an integrated application management solution is required to address these deficits.


  • A single repository that encompasses the student cycle.
  • Robust canned and ad hoc reports, including live data.
  • An interactive checklist for Admission and Financial Aid documents.
  • Email management tools that include analytics.
  • The ability to pay a deposit online.
  • A student view to review status, upload documents, and review process information.
  • Decision information (following the timing defined by Admission leadership).
  • The ability for an applicant to decline an admission or financial aid offer.
  • Display the cost of attendance projection, required by statute.
  • Coordination of inquiries, applications, decision and notifications
  • The electronic review of applications
  • Document scanning (electronic storage)
  • Single sign-on
    Direct SQL access, real-time APIs and data feeds
  • High performance and high availability

HRD Talent Management System 


  • A reduction in the time needed to complete HR tasks leading to process improvement across campus.
  • Data entry reduction (enter once, reuse many times).
  • A solution which provides a user interface that is clean, logical and user-friendly
  • Consolidate HRD processes into a single-platform and user experience including provisions for:
    • a management dashboard accessed via single sign on
    • a portal for employee self-service functions accessed via single sign on
    • the management of supervisory organizational hierarchies
    • the management of employee compensation and compensation budgeting
    • approval workflows for employee on-boarding/off-boarding
    • tracking sabbatical leave credits (and other optional user data)
    • Employee on-boarding and form management that supports paperless processes
    • Provide support for bidirectional data flow for dependent services (e.g. FAMIS)
    • HR Templates (to be defined as per departmental needs)
    • The provision for robust reporting and analytics
    • Contract management tools
    • Space Management (document physical location of an employee)
    • Time management, tracking and approval processes
    • Track and store accommodations (details of accommodation, i.e. alternate work arrangements)

Benefits Administration
Tools to Manage:

  • Benefit plans, eligibility and beneficiaries
  • Open enrollment
  • ACA hour tracking
  • Health savings accounts
  • Family Medical Leave Act tracking
  • Integration of pension provider data (TIAA-CREF & Fidelity)
  • Ensure compatibility with R-Solutions bi-directional data flow and operations

Recruitment & Talent Management
Provide a consolidated and functional recruiting management tool that includes:

  • position management (including a job description library)
  • candidate management (self-service model)
  • selection management (committee access to shared resources)
  • student employment management
  • Integration with HireRight (background checks)
  • Performance and goal management

HRD event management (benefits fair, HR fairs, etc.)

Tools that provide the following functionality:

  • Publication of related policies
  • Social media hooks and management for recruiting and information dissemination
  • An employee handbook publication platform (or equivalent with policies management)
  • Email address merges (addressing a subset; track that we sent x )
  • Mail merge for correspondence
  • Clean addresses (address validation for postal standards)

Establish an appropriate workflow which considers:

  • Access to resources is appropriate and inline with that positions responsibilities
  • Outlines those permissions and creates a reproducible process that is easily maintained.
  • Preserves data protection policies
  • Reduces time to live for employee access to appropriate resources
  • Preserves data retention policies
  • Access to enrollment services including benefit selection and other benefits
  • Notification via email that on-boarding action is required
  • A methodology to acknowledge and process notification requests (i.e. “action items”)
  • An electronic method to confirm on-boarding steps have been taken / approved
  • Ensuring Colgate’s resources are secure


Originally conceived as three distinct projects, the convergence of these components constitutes a Talent Management System. Talent management systems address performance management, documents the lifecycle of an employee and provides employees with a portal to access forms, information, training resources and more.

Numerous paper and electronic processes are managed by Human Resources daily. On-boarding, performance management, job description management, benefit management and many other HR processes are handled independently via a variety of processes. HRD has identified several deficits in historical processes that, if addressed, would: improve efficiency,  reduce errors, improve compliance, streamline on-boarding, provide a platform to address training needs, provide tools for managers to more successfully guide subordinates, and reduce the hiring and vetting timeline for new employees. Moreover, a talent management system serves as a self-service platform for many employee needs, providing access to important documents, confirmation of personal and salary data and potentially a more efficient and user friendly method for tracking time and leave for hourly employees.

Benefits of a unified talent management system include one experience, one architecture, and one security model.

The scope of this project includes on-boarding and off-boarding workflows. The coordination of on-boarding a new employee is a complex and time sensitive process. Numerous departments and individual personnel are required to take action to provide access, enable services and deploy resources to ensure new employees are equipped to do their job as soon as possible. The core challenge is communicating in a timely manner to the right people. There is no central checklist or process in place to confirm or detail the required steps to enable a new employee. On-boarding delays have become particularly problematic for divisions, such as the Dean of the College, who experience a higher than average turnover rate. Moreover, these employees often have access to sensitive data and other records.

Key to improving this process is the identification of the baseline steps to on-board an employee and then obtaining and maintaining a hierarchical accounting of specific role based access to additional resources required for specific job responsibilities. This process should be standardized, reproducible, maintainable and electronic.

When an employee separates from Colgate those assigned resources that must be recalled or restricted should be clearly outlined and the process to revoke access and retain Colgate data should be well documented. Further, this process should be communicated to supervisors and well documented to ensure compliance.


Admission Lobby Technology


  • Replace existing wall projection with a brighter, cleaner, more modern audio and visual display for Admission visitors.
  • Engage with Communications to create engaging and exciting Colgate content.


Colgate is “In the middle of everywhere” and we should demonstrate that in the media that visitors first experience. The Admission lobby was fully renovated in 2014 and multiple projectors and visual display surfaces were added. These surfaces include a “feature wall” with videos and the “sliver wall” with static “13” images. The system includes the Presentation Room, where a guided slide show runs during Admission presentations. These projectors and televisions are driven by multiple computers and other devices and include a high end sound system.

The reliability of the feature wall has been poor. The feature wall uses a proprietary video player application that is triggered by an old-style proximity sensor originally designed for video games. The current software does not properly respond and start the video when visitors approach, so we’ve had to revert to older software. But this software does not provide the full breadth of marketing materials intended for the space. The entire system is proprietary and uncommon, which makes it difficult to support and maintain.

The “sliver wall” is driven by a web service that delivers images and feeds from RiseVision. While this display surface has been more reliable, the original intention of an interactive wall has never been realized, due, in part, to an overly complex system that was never fully deployed. Vendor support has been poor.

The presentation room uses a software application to map images across three televisions. Fundamentally, this system works well, however, the software’s built in scheduler has been unreliable beginning in the late spring of 2016 despite product updates, vendor assistance and the best efforts of support staff.

This project looks to completely replace the technology on the feature wall and sliver wall, and upgrade the software in use in the presentation room.


  • New display surfaces - likely a video wall - and speakers.
  • A new content system for video walls and interactive displays.
  • New software for the presentation room.
  • A reliable support model including appropriate staff training.
  • Improved support documentation and additional training.
  • A maintenance plan for the current technology.
  • Long term budget planning for continued development, maintenance and regular replacement.

Contract Management 


  • Manage procurement and sales contracts and internal agreements.
  • Successfully manage the contract life cycle.
  • Standardize and control contract development.
  • Improve communication with contract stakeholders.
  • Strengthen operational, contractual, and regulatory compliance.


The management of the majority of goods and services contracts at Colgate is decentralized. Tracking contract dates, renewals, costs, signatories, notifications, due diligence, and authority are managed at the department level or from the desks of individuals. While many contracts pass through Purchasing and Accounting, monitoring is practically impossible except during contract inception and expiration. Moreover, contract expense tracking and detecting whether redundant services have been engaged are difficult without a contract management system.

Website Redesign 


  • Improve the user experience.
  • Refresh Colgate’s digital image and brand.
  • Differentiate marketing and public information from employee communications.
  • Improve the content author experience and reduce editing complexity.
  • Provide flexibility for interactive features including video, animation, rotating graphics and dynamic content.
  • Improve emergency communication message delivery and reduce the time to live for these messages.
  • Develop a new front end user experience architecture. 


The public website is often the first introduction to Colgate University and a critical first impression for potential students and their parents. represents Colgate’s chief brand outlet and is the critical marketing component for the University. Additionally, the public website serves as a gateway to services and information for the entire Colgate community. Resources and information are housed for every stage of the student lifecycle. Important staff and faculty resources also cohabitat this digital space.

The current website’s design, layout and navigation are stale have not been updated in several years. Moreover, Colgate’s CMS provides insufficient functionality and many find it unwieldy, most notably containing: a difficult visual hierarchy; limited interactive features, insufficient content space; and limited flexibility to address special events, campaigns and emergency communications.

Faculty Activity Reporting  


  • Deploy a solution that:
    • provides inherent flexibility defining and adding fields
    • accommodates flexible import formats for a variety of commonly used data types
    • contains a robust user interface that is intuitive and easy to use
    • has flexible reporting capabilities including the ability to build ad hoc reports from any field
    • provides online reporting capabilities
    • contains robust and granular permission management
    • provides data linkage with Colgate’s BI warehouse
    • calculates and reports faculty load



Faculty activity reporting is an annual process by which faculty provide a narrative of classroom activity, research, publications, awards, speaking engagements and other notable accomplishments. Currently, this information is either captured in a Word document or entered into Activity Insight (Digital Measures), a cloud-based tool designed for faculty activity reporting. Activity Insight is essentially a form-based tool. Adoption of Activity Insight is voluntary.

Numerous deficits have been identified by the Dean of the Faculty and faculty users of the software. Specifically, the user interface is disappointing and lacking capability. Most troubling is the lack of flexibility in how this collection of online forms can be manipulated, namely: the ability to import multiple authors for publications; entering individual fields for publications is not convenient and is time consuming; the format for importing publisher data must match a narrow list of types; and numerous efficiency items.

Other challenges include poor reporting capabilities, the inability to “data mine” publication data and student research involvement, differing departmental cultures input data differently; little to no control over the look and feel of administrative data; only the vendor can make visual changes; and the turnaround time for changes is substantial.

Long Range Forecasting and Planning 


  • Improve budget forecasting accuracy.
  • Provide a method for long term planning tuned to the higher education marketplace.
  • Incorporate future strategic initiatives and high priority items.
  • Sustain Colgate’s long-term financial equilibrium.
  • Identify a best-fit solution to aid in information gathering, data analysis, and forecasting capabilities.


The Budget Office is exploring tools which will aid in monitoring and forecasting Colgate’s budget to improve accuracy, outline priorities, strengthen needs assessment, and control future spending. Small, tuition-dependent, private universities represent a unique model. Significant differences with mainstream corporate models mean a “best-fit” solution is elusive. In particular, a lack of specific detail aligned with our business model inhibit accuracy and year to year adjustments are necessary which create uncertainty.

This project seeks to identify a tool or set of tools to aid in budget projections and forecast modeling, decision making and sustain Colgate’s financial future and health.

Email Marketing Solution 


  • Easily build and send targeted communications.
  • Send emails that use a consistent, polished design.
  • Deploy an email marketing solution that is manageable by users.
  • Adopt a University wide solution.
  • Adopt a solution that features robust analytics.
  • Adopt a solution that is capable of archiving communications.


Mass emails are currently sent to established Google Groups. Creating new groups with unique affinities is impractical. Managing lists of Google Groups is also tenuous making constituent based email campaigns near impossible.  Gmail presents additional challenges including: formatting errors; and inappropriate selection of auto complete addresses. External tools, such as Thunderbird (not fully supported) and Outlook, are commonly used to personalize emails. The use of these tools, and a myriad of other ad hoc solutions, are generally relegated to technically savvy staff and are otherwise difficult to use.

Understanding the success of emails is an additional challenge. Analytics and confirmation of receipts are absent. Managing email lists, via Google Groups, is technically challenging for many. Design and layout of mass emails is inconsistent and often present readability and brand identity issues.


Concur User Experience Improvements  


  • Reduce time on task by visually prioritizing required submission features.
  • Improve the Concur user experience.
  • Improve perception and better define ROI for Concur users to reduce report submission delays.
  • Define new employee training resources and improve on-boarding experience.


Concur Travel and Expense was rolled out across campus in 2015. Concur improves the process of tracking expenses and allows tech-savvy employees to more easily manage the multiple trip receipts, corporate card transactions and travel reconciliation.

While the deployment of Concur was considered successful from a technical perspective, the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are not intuitive and are obstacles for many users. This project will 1) explore what can be reconfigured within Concur to improve the UX, 2) explore what ITS can do to improve the UX, 3) reach out to the broad user base to assess obstacles and gather ideas for a better UX, and 4) improve the UX in Concur through reconfiguration/software development coupled with UX focus groups and community feedback on iterative prototypes.

Workflow Product 


  • Simplify event-driven workflow processes by creating an electronic form-driven web-centric delivery methodology.
  • Reduce errors by pre-populating form submission data, driven by student identifiers, wherever possible.
  • Reduce the physical storage requirements for paper documents.
  • Reduce the evaluation and approval timeline for critical student and faculty submissions.
  • Provide an interface that is simple and intuitive to navigate and use.
  • Create an efficient method for storage and retrieval of electronically submitted data and noted  decision points.
  • Ensure compliance with retention laws and statutes.
  • Reduce paper storage requirements.
  • Reduce filing and paper handling errors.
  • Ease reproduction and improve access to archived documents.
  • Create a workflow for ingesting and storing online form data.
  • Create a process that indexes and categorizes scanned, form captured and extant data.
  • Engage a tool set that include audit capabilities.
  • Integrate an approval workflow for forms which require fiscal processing.
  • Integrate an approval workflow for forms and data that require approval(s).
  • Integrate a workflow to provide notifications via email when documents are sent and received.
  • Protect documents from loss (example fire, flood).
  • Remote access to documents.
  • Provide departments, programs, and offices with easily accessible, up-to-date award information to guide their selection of award recipients.
  • Create a user-friendly, intuitive electronic interface for AAs/chairs/directors to submit award recipient information.
  • Minimize data entry and reduce the possibility of error.
  • Reduce or eliminate ADOF AA overtime.
  • Improve donor communication.
  • Create an institutional repository of award convocation data.
  • Create a simple workflow to manage award payment coordinated with accounting.


Numerous departments, including the Office of the Registrar, negotiate event-driven processes that often start with a request and end with an action. A quintessential example is the new course proposal process. A narrative is submitted by a faculty member and is then reviewed by a hierarchy starting with the department chair and ending, upon approval, with the an administrative assistant re-typing the course description into Banner.  

Numerous other examples exist which follow a similar pattern of submitting a narrative or complex data for review, approval or simply record keeping that then requires either an approval or a response. Other examples noted include major/minor declaration, change of status and many more.

The vast majority of these processes are paper driven, consume a significant amount of time to complete, review and approve with the end result filed in a cabinet solely for the purpose of satisfying retention requirements. Moreover, data acquisition via paper forms is more prone to errors, potentially elongating processing time. The ability to recall data from these paper processes is also problematic and time consuming.

Paperless workflow and Awards Processing are additional, key examples of the types of problems solved by workflow solutions. These specific cases are outlined below.

Paperless Workflow

Numerous departments manage archives of documents that inhabit countless file drawers. While these documents may never be physically accessed, many are required, by statute, to be retained for a period of time. In other instances, these documents may be accessed frequently but their storage has become a burden - moreover, the management of, filing of, and production of these documents is labor intensive and inefficient. Human error and misfiling are also at issue.

Additionally, numerous forms are completed by students, faculty, staff and contractors which eventually end up in a filing cabinet. Attacking this project from the source means that documents captured digitally upon inception never require manual filing. Moreover, once digitized, electronic workflows would make possible more automated handling of time sensitive requests and potential integrations with existing products, like Banner, possible.

This projects seeks to investigate a methodology to digitize and index large stores of paper documents to enable electronic retrieval upon request. Further, this project also seeks to investigate a method of electronically capturing original data and methods for retrieving, approving, communicating, indexing, processing and retaining that data as required.  

Award Processing

The awards convocation is organized by the administrative assistant (AA) in the Office of the Associate Dean of the Faculty (ADOF) and involves contributions by all academic departments and programs as well as several university offices. The event is traditionally held on the last Tuesday in April. Preparations begin in the preceding fall when Advancement contacts award/prize fund donors, and gains momentum in the winter when the ADOF AA sends award forms to departments/programs/offices. This process reaches its peak in the weeks preceding the event when award forms are submitted and processed.

Award convocation information and data are currently stored in a variety of locations. Advancement stewards donor-generated funds, stores deeds of gift and donor letters, and maintains donor contact information. Departments, programs and offices manage operational and discretionary budgets, some which may be used to fund awards. The accounting office issues checks to recipients and maintains payment information. The DOF staff member collects and stores information about award titles, descriptions, history, amounts, and recipient contact information on an office computer. Files on that computer contain the institutional history of the award convocation.

An electronic format would simplify award processing and establish an institutional repository of award history. Data would not be stored on one office computer or on one Google Drive, but would be maintained in a central data repository.