A massive upgrade to the university's Banner software is now complete.
Reflecting the work of dozens of staff members across campus for more than a year, the upgrade to Banner 9 was completed in February. It delivered dramatic changes to one of the most critical software systems on campus.
About 1,500 UO faculty and staff members use Banner to perform such fundamental processes as scheduling classes, entering grades, creating invoices and issuing paychecks. The system consists of about 3,200 individual pages for entering and displaying data. Together, they enable the core academic and administrative functions at the university and power DuckWeb.
The Banner 9 upgrade combined a transformation of the system's user interface with significant changes to the underlying technology.
"This wasn't a normal software upgrade," said Jay Butler, the retirement payroll specialist in payroll services and a heavy Banner user. "This is like if you had a Mac on your desk and one day you came into work and it had turned into a PC."
Banner 9 brought changes to everything from navigation and keyboard shortcuts to search options and the overall look and feel.
"If Banner 8 looked like the '80s, Banner 9 is 2019," Butler said. "It flows better."
Morgan Ramsey Daniel, associate director for operations in student financial aid and scholarships, said the upgrade comes with a more intuitive user interface.
"We've been onboarding some new staff and I think it's really nice for them," said Ramsey Daniel, citing the new keyword search as one notable improvement. "It's much easier to use than Banner 8."
Longtime Banner user Deb Mailander, department manager for the Labor Education and Research Center, said, "Banner 9 is a huge improvement now that I am used to it. It's much smoother, faster and more logical in most instances."
Behind the scenes, much of the system had to be re-engineered for Banner 9 due to a significant technological shift. To address that complexity, Information Services assigned a project manager to track and coordinate work, and enlisted help from the company that built Banner 9 to complement the extensive work by university programmers.
The transition also required hundreds of hours of preparation and testing by dozens of Banner users across campus to look for bugs and ensure pages performed properly.
"This rollout has succeeded because of the enormous collaborative effort across campus," said Noreen Hogan, associate chief information officer for applications and middleware in Information Services. "We couldn't have completed a project of this scale without the commitment of our many campus partners, especially in admissions, the registrar's office, financial aid, business affairs, payroll, HR and research."
The magnitude of that effort belies the extent of functional changes to Banner, however. Virtually everything Banner does has remained the same in version 9.
Ramsey Daniel and Butler emphasize that Banner 9 does take some getting used to.
"Your eyes are having to go to all these new places," Butler said.
Butler also strongly encourages Banner 9 users to reach out for help if they're struggling with the new system.
"If you have to spend more than five minutes figuring something out, contact us. We can save you time and frustration," he said.
To request help, Banner users are encouraged to visit the Banner service entry in the UO Service Portal. Click the green "Request Help" button, log in with a Duck ID, complete the form and click the green "Request" button.
That form is also the best way to report bugs so Information Services staff can address them or pass them on to Ellucian, the company behind Banner.
For do-it-yourself help resources, Banner users can visit the service portal's Banner knowledge base.
Now that the Banner 9 upgrade is complete, Information Services will be holding several "lessons learned" sessions with people who participated in the project to gather improvement ideas for future technology projects.
On the horizon is a significant upgrade to DuckWeb prompted by similar underlying technological changes. The timeline for that effort has yet to be determined.
—By Nancy Novitski, University Communications