Providing Superior Service to Growing Numbers of Students
With a mission to constantly seek improvements for better services to its students, the Universidad Iberoamericana became challenged to provide the right technology to support its efforts.
When it began struggling with the functionality of its internal university-management systems, the University’s Information Technology and Telecommunications Department stepped in with a new solution to increase efficiency and guarantee continuity of services.
Over the years, UIA has been increasing its number of automated processes offered to its students and staff such as payments, scheduling, human resources, payroll, and academic resources. With the addition of these new online services, as well as an increase in the number of students – UIA saw a decrease in the system’s speed and usability. In order to continue building upon these automated services and maintain offering superior tools and services for its more than 11,000 students, it needed a new technology solution. UIA turned to Sybase ASE 15 for this new level of functionality in partnership with Sybase Professional Services, running on IBM’s Blade technology and Linux operating system.
Partnering with Sybase Professional Services
The implementation was complete in about four months with the help of the Sybase Professional Services team who worked closely with the University’s Information Technology and Telecommunications Department.
Gerardo Iturbide, UIA’s Information Technology and Telecommunications Director explains, “We have no complaints, both the account executive as well as the Sybase consultant were very direct with regard to the pros and cons of what we had planned to do, which helped us to design the implementation and carry it out in the best possible way. They gave us the tools and we worked together to achieve our goal.”
Iturbide continues, “Since we changed both our hardware and operating systems, we required the most transparent migration possible, which is why we were interested in the professional services also being from Sybase—given their expertise, no one else could manage this process.”
UIA was interested in Sybase’s ability to work along with various platforms and hardware options. Iturbide explains, “We have achieved good results with Sybase, it has enabled the UIA team to maximize our investment and understanding of our data. After analyzing the new version of ASE, we observed that, among other things, it had considerable improvements in both the engine and in response time to queries.”
One challenge UIA needed to overcome was keeping its backup history unharmed during migration. “We wanted to avoid any problems with recovering stored information. The UIA's secure historical data from previous versions needed to be accessible without any problems — we knew the process would be much easier Sybase’s help,” Iturbide says.
Additionally, the Sybase solution offers the UIA a flexible licensing scheme. Iturbide notes, “Previously, with a ‘per seat’ model, we had to conduct frequent reviews to evaluate who was using what in order to control costs. Since moving to a “per CPU” scheme it is very comfortable, we no longer have to think about automation, or increasing the number of applications.”
UIA has found the new solution’s benefits overwhelming. “We have various closing and registration processes during the three academic periods (spring, summer, and fall) that govern the University, all of which benefited directly. In general terms, the improvement in performance was 400% on average in processing speed,” explains Gerardo Iturbide.
“Prior to the migration, we had to dedicate each afternoon to certain closing processes because each process took six or seven hours. Now we are able to do them in just two and a half hours. This fulfilled the primary objective of the improving update times and performance of the UIA's critical processes.”
Three times per year UIA organizes the previous school year’s historic data, an exercise that previously would take more than 40 minutes. Today this previously tedious task is completed in just 18 minutes. This new capability stands out as one of the main benefits for UIA.
Another aspect of the UIA that has seen drastic improvements in speed and performance is the student class-registration process. During registration, students choose their classes and propose a schedule. All of this information is compiled automatically, and later goes through a validation process to evaluate whether the student has completed the prerequisites, if there is space in his or her preferred class, as well as his or her academic performance and academic progress. Based on this criteria, it is determined whether or not the student may have access to the class of their choice. “Now this process takes only 17 minutes,” says Iturbide.
The billing and payment processes calculate how much each student should pay during the semester and determine payment due dates, and is now completed in 20 minutes, rather than four hours on the old system. Additionally, daily back-office financial processes to determine payments due and to generate new charges now take five minutes, instead of three hours.
Likewise, the student’s electronic wallet system, a prepaid account for UIA services such as the cafeteria, stationery supplies, books, etc., is managed via the Sybase solution. Until recently, the system took 30 seconds to verify a balance, now it is done in just two to three seconds.
Finally, the budget-tracking portal has also improved considerably. This is an intranet used by 60 of the institution's directors to make financial decisions. These high-level processes require validation of many electronic signatures. Previously, the validation took up to two minutes, but now it is done in just a few seconds.
With the Sybase technology, a dedicated team of Sybase consultants and a vision of a very efficient system, the Universidad Iberoamericana can better serve the students of today, and has the foundation to pursue its charter of continuous improvement.