Enterprise Systems and Process Renewal Project

Quicker Service, Shorter Lines

Students who need information or assistance from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will enjoy reduced wait times once SunGard’s Banner Digital Campus goes online in February 2012.

The office will replace its paper letters with electronic communication—a major change that will serve students better and allow staff members to help those students more quickly, says Melissa Shearer, associate director of operations.

Shearer, who spends 95 percent of her time to implement the new system, is co-lead of the office’s efforts, along with David Clark, systems analyst. Together, they make sure the changes will meet the needs of students and employees alike.

“If people were to tour our offices today, they would see rows and rows of paper files for student aid applicants, all of which will be replaced with imaging,” Shearer says. “This means that information will be available to all staff members at their computers without ever having to hunt down a file—a huge timesaver that allows us to respond more quickly and accurately to student needs. We will also have superior access to data that doesn’t exist now, and our staff will be able to run their own reports as they need them—this will give all members of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid team the ability to control their own workload.”

Shearer came to Ball State early in 2011 with 13 years of experience as a consultant and manager at SunGard Higher Education in Washington state. Before that, she served a stint at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where she helped implement the Banner system for that campus.

“I have worked with universities all over the United States as they have implemented this system, and I can honestly say that the staff at Ball State are the most willing and open minded to change that I have had to pleasure to work with,” Shearer says.

“For me personally, this is like a dream come true. I get to take the systems that I know quite well and really shape and mold them to meet the needs of an office that I am truly invested in. I get to see the excitement in the staff as we go through training as they see the possibilities and capabilities of how we can do business more intelligently and effectively. Each and every staff member in our office is dedicated to the students, and it is such a tremendous pleasure to be part of that team.”

Students will be major beneficiaries of the Banner improvements, Shearer says. “For the students, we are able to deploy a whole menu of self-service options and access that Ball State has never before been able to support.

“Students will be able to view the status of their financial aid online 24/7. They will be informed promptly when information changes or additional information is needed from them. They will be able to view and accept their financial aid awards online, and in turn, we expect this to reduce the long lines that we frequently see during the start of each term.”

“Everyone involved has been open minded and willing to accept the changes that are coming, and this has been 100 percent a group effort. I am a member of a very talented and progressive team, and I consider myself to be very fortunate.”