Author Archives: mcveyc

Live in Prod Now = Live in Advancement!

On time, on budget. The Advancement and IT Services team working on Miami’s Banner 9 project can claim success on both!


The Advancement office staff are now actively using the four Banner 9 modules (Advancement, Banner Document Management System (BDMS), General, and Student) moved to the production server earlier this month. 

This milestone is critical to the Banner 9 project in two ways. The BDMS, General, and baseline Student modules support each of the implementations to follow. This engagement also serves as a “proof of concept” of the project core team’s testing and training process.

So kudos to the Advancement implementation team. You hit it out of the park!

First Banner 9 Modules to Go PROD on 9/1

The word milestone in large red lettersAfter many long months of planning and many long hours of behind-the-scenes work, the Banner 9 project is ready to hit its big first milestone. Four major Banner modules will be installed on their production server on Sept. 1. 

The Banner 9 Advancement, Banner Document Management System (BDMS), General, and Student modules have been tested in the development and test environments and it’s time to make the big step to production status.

Once the modules are installed, Advancement will spend the next ten-day period training and testing.  Advancement staff has been working with a consultant chosen for his specific expertise in this part of the Banner 9 environment. The training and testing will follow plans developed as part of that consultancy, marrying the Banner 9 knowledge with the insight into Miami business processes. This cooperative relationship was designed to result in the best use of the new system and to enable the Advancement staff to be as productive as possible.

The official “go live” date for the Advancement Banner 9 module is Sept. 11 and the team is looking forward to having that first major achievement under their belt. The successes and challenges of this engagement will inform the remaining work.

Next up is Financial Aid. Their consultant is already working with the Miami team, developing training and testing.

I need to report something about a Banner 9 project. Who do I call?

The Banner 9 project is a big, complex beast with many moving parts. In formal project management lingo, we call it a “program” made up of many “projects.” Some of the work we are doing is for the “program” – like setting up the Dev, Test, and Prod versions. (See earlier post to learn what Dev/Test/Prod means.) That work supports all of the individual projects. However, each project has a unique timeline, a team of staff, and work to be completed. Issues and questions may be related to the full program or directly to one of the projects.

3 circles inside each other. The smallest is labeled Project, the medium is labeled Program, and the largest is labeled Porfolio

With an undertaking of this size, it is inevitable that questions and problems will arise. Instead of asking you to keep all of this straight, the Support Desk (513.529.7900 or is always a correct method to get attention to an issue. It is the most actively monitored support vector, and is used by all of IT Services.

If you are working with an IT development team on an active implementation, feel free to work out an effective method with the team, but the Support Desk is always a good option.

Dev, Test, Prod – Oh, My!!

So if you are in meetings with software developers or other technical folks you might have heard the terms “Dev, Test, Prod” thrown around. What do they mean and why should it matter?

Following best practices, when IT technicians stand up a new service or make significant changes to an existing service in the data center, they create three separate versions of that service. Sometimes you will hear the term “instances” to refer to those versions. Why three?

The first, Dev, means development. As the name implies this is where the application is shaped to meet Miami’s needs. It is where risks are taken and ideas are tried out. Because the Dev instance uses a clone of the database that will be used when it goes live, developers can see how each change they make impacts the application. (While that data is a mirror of what the application will use, the clone is a snapshot and is not updated.) Once those developers are satisfied that they have a product that is solid, the Dev version is copied to the Test instance.

Again, the Test instance is just what it says. This is the place where anyone with proper permissions can work with the software, using cloned data like Dev, to make sure everything works as expected. While IT staff may be able to do some testing, it is critical for the people who will be using the application regularly to engage in the testing. Does it work the way they expect? Does the output meet their needs? Basically, does it provide the deliverables identified at the beginning of the project?

Once testing is complete and all parties are happy with how the application is working, it is time to move into Prod or production. The last gate a service or application must clear before moving to Prod is approved is called Change Control. A small group of engineers/technicians with deep knowledge of the data center ecosystem review each proposed change to systems in Prod. They look to be sure all potential conflicts have been identified and dealt with in Dev or Test. They check to see that proper communication to end users and support staff is being planned. Only after these gatekeepers provide their approval is the new service introduced to the live, production environment.

This is the big moment. The software is going to be on our live systems and servers. Many systems and applications live together in a shared ecosystem. A problem with one may cause issues for others.  Any problems at this point can be just annoying or could be catastrophic. This risk is why the Dev, Test, Prod processes are critical. If they have been followed rigorously, potential problems have already been addressed and the move to Prod will be seamless.

Each Banner 9 module will traverse these three basic milestones, providing ample room for experimentation, testing, and carefully monitored “go live” plans. So, when you hear the terms Dev, Test, or Prod, now you will know what they mean and where the work is in the process.

Update: 7/17

These Banner 9 modules have been created in Test

  • General
  • Advancement
  • Student
  • Banner Document Management System (resolving issues)
  • Accounts Receivable (in progress)

Production environment hardware installation should be complete today – 7/14. Software prep will begin next week.

Current activities:
  • Installed Advancement, BDMS, General, Student (baseline) modules
  • Testing/Training consultant starts on Monday, 7/17
  • Go Live scheduled for week of 9/11/2017

Financial Aid

  • Interviewing consultant now – start date around August 1
  • Go Live in either October or November
  • Mod re-engineering
  • Initial results look positive

4 mods have been or are in the process of being worked on

Developers are testing an application builder that may significantly reduce the time required to build some mods/standalone forms

Ethos Workflow evaluation and Integration Hub work continue

Scheduling conference calls with Ellucian Subject Matter Experts for each area to discuss mods vs baseline, new features in Banner 9 we could take advantage of, etc

Fun Banner Facts

Did you know that Miami processed over 13 million transactions through Banner last year??

Miami maintains over 800 interfaces between Banner and the university’s other transactional and reporting systems.


Fun With Forms

Last week we talked about fun with mods – this week the project core team is looking at Oracle standalone forms we use in Banner. 126 of these forms have been identified and Jeff Toaddy is playing Sherlock, sleuthing out all the relevant information needed to make decisions about the future of each form. Jeff has had a series of Watson’s – partners from the client offices – helping him understand which clues are useful and which are just red herrings.

To date, 69 forms have been labeled “retire” – that’s nearly 55%. Ten will be rebuilt or replaced, three are part of a mod that has already been evaluated, and the rest are still in “investigation mode.” Watch for more Fun with Forms updates!!

Fun with Mods

At Miami we have 99 “mods” or modifications to Banner. In conversation with other Banner schools, we have learned that our mod count is really very modest. A number of schools we talked to have thousands of mods!