Private sector app makes public appearance

Teachers and staff at two dozen colleges in Quebec will have more than new faces to familiarize themselves with come fall.

The Société du réseau informatique des collèges (SRIC), which purchases

and manages software for post-secondary schools, said it has teamed with Novell Canada to improve student record management at 24 CEGEPs (Collège d’enseignement general et professionel). With the help of Montreal-based Complys technologies, eDirectory and DirXML will be integrated with applications and databases.

SRIC manager Gerard Henry says it made the decision in May and got a beta site up and running soon after. Given the early results, he says he expects the solution “”to make life easier for our clients.”” The installation is expect to begin over the summer and finish in September.

While Henry says the big winner in terms of time savings will be the CEGEPs, the SRIC’s burden will also be lessened. “”In the past we didn’t have a dynamic interface linking student databases and electronic services to the students. We had to do that manually. This was a very hard job.””

Ross Chevalier, director of technology at Novell Canada, says DirXML was first conceived as a business application for the private sector, but soon discovered it could cross over to the public side.

“”The same concerns apply in either case. Obviously you’re very concerned with proper alignment of business process to ensure the work flow proceeds in the appropriate order. You’re concerned about authentication, proving that the person who initiates a change request is the person that they say they are,”” Chevalier says.

“”You’re concerned about authorization, their ability to perform the work they want to perform. And of course you’re concerned about the ability to manifest those changes through what we refer to as the authoritative data source.””

This isn’t the only project of its kind in Quebec. Concordia University has launched a portal to help its 30,000 students get more information online, allowing students to do everything from register for courses to contact professors through the portal. Outside Quebec, Simon Fraser University have also said it is in the process of creating a browser-based student information system that will go live by next year.

Henry and Chevalier say while the solution won’t need to be customized, the mapping process does take time.

“”Getting the customer’s business process well documented is the biggest part of the job,”” Chevalier says. “”When the customer is committed, as SRIC has been, this actually rolls out very, very quickly. We’re not talking about a two-year engagement to make it happen.””

In terms of the mapping process, Chevalier says directory-enabled application connectivity allows the user to align business processes, then map them to the technology. The other option, he says, is “”having to beat on your business processes to make them fit some technical solution.””

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