Federation University supports multiple systems across both the university and TAFE sector with five campuses located across Victoria and Queensland. It works with numerous software partners and third-party providers to support a substantial influx of international students every year. To keep it running, the university’s centrally managed IT team has installed a significant number of Oracle customisations and integrations to its Oracle Peoplesoft Campus Solutions environment.
If that all sounds complex, it’s because it is, according to Hugh Townsend, IT Team Lead at Federation University. “The Oracle system we use is a legacy system, but it works perfectly for our needs,” he said. “There are just tons of [Oracle] customisations to consider.”
When a new government regulation was introduced in 2018, it required making substantial adjustments to the complex system on a tight timeline.
In 2018, the Federal Government of Australia announced a change to a reporting function with regards to student data. The Tertiary Collection of Student Information (TCSI) would replace the Higher Education Provider Client Assistance Tool (HEPCAT) for all education providers and the Centrelink Academic Reassessment Transformation (CART) for universities. TCSI aimed to transform how student information is collected. It would require universities to report on details of student enrolment, including applications, fees, personal information, and entitlements within seven days of receipt.
“The original timeline for universities to get their systems updated was very ambitious and created a degree of anxiety across the sector,” said Andrew Matheson, Manager, Service Operations, Information Technology Services for Federation University. “The original scope was to have reporting systems updated and ready to report within six months but thankfully the government responded to sector feedback and extended the window,” explained Matheson.
Yet a solution still needed to be created, and with Federation University’s multiple Oracle customisations to its Oracle Peoplesoft Campus Solutions environment, the team faced a monumental task to update their systems and get compliant on time. “We’d just signed up to Rimini Street support when the TCSI change was announced, which was great for us,” said Townsend. “It was like ‘welcome aboard, now here’s this’! But they immediately assigned a team to help us get up to speed.”
“Normally we’d have to rely on Oracle’s support and the delivery of their solution, but theirs is a one-size-fits-all update which wouldn’t consider our customisations or our other integrations,” said Matheson. Rimini Street assessed Federation University’s numerous Oracle customisations to its Oracle Peoplesoft Campus Solutions environment and immediately began working to get it up-to-speed.
Matheson estimated that it would normally take multiple full-time workers to update their systems, test them, and continually adapt the changes to meet evolving government requirements, still with no guarantee of meeting the government‘s compliance deadline. “We didn’t have a team at Federation University. We had one, maybe two people at any one time working on the project. Rimini Street saved us the equivalent of three or four full time employees.” he said.
Ultimately, the delivery date was pushed back considerably due to COVID-19, with a new delivery date set for May 2021. Still, many universities have struggled to deliver updates on time. As of September 2021, Matheson advises that about 70% of institutions have met requirements, meaning at least 30% of organisations had not met the deadline.
Federation University was first in the class.
Rimini Street’s dedicated Tax, Legal, and Regulatory (TLR) Updates practice helps clients of all sizes keep their ERP software compliance up to date with rate, rule, policy, and reporting changes for over 140 countries with more than 26,000 jurisdictions worldwide. In 2020, Rimini Street managed and delivered a 40% year-over-year increase in tax, legal, and regulatory updates, many related to governments’ responses to the pandemic.
By attending partner webinars, developer meetings, and even speaking with the government when appropriate, the Rimini Street TLR Updates team allowed Matheson and Townsend to focus on their day-to-day with minimal disruption from the TCSI updates. “I still attended the meetings and webinars, but I didn’t need to undertake all of the changes myself which was great,” said Townsend. “The Rimini Street team was responsive, rolling out a release every week or so that we’d be able to test in an environment we’d set up for them to do so,” Townsend added.
“Rimini Street’s technical staff really knew what they were doing. It was a collaborative approach, constantly dealing with changes which were being announced thick and fast from the government,” recounted Townsend. “We’ve had weekly meetings with Rimini Street’s team for a while now,” added Matheson. “They’ve been very good with regards to clarifications, you get an immediate response that makes sense, and they know their stuff.”
Federation University was able to implement Rimini Street’s bespoke updates—which accounted for all its Oracle customisations—ahead of the target date. Townsend shared, “The Government actually called us out in an email as the first institution to go live with a TCSI update.” Overall, Matheson reflected, “It was less stress with their TLR team helping us.”
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