Strategies for a Successful Deployment of rSmart OneCampus
In late 2014, Internet2 NET+ OneCampus launched as the result of the collaboration between seven universities, Internet2 and rSmart to provide a unique offering to the higher education community. Technology leaders from Indiana University, University of Utah, University of Maryland, University of Pittsburgh, Clemson University, University of Nebraska-Omaha and BYU-Idaho helped guide and shape the validated solution.
OneCampus successfully passed the peer-driven NET+ service validation process adhering to community security, accessibility and performance standards. OneCampus also integrated Internet2's InCommon federated authentication and was architected for performance across the advanced Internet2 Network to maximize deployment efficiencies.
The past few months, the rSmart team has been working with a diverse mix of institutions from across the country to implement OneCampus. These early adopters and members of the rSmart/Internet2 advisory board are also helping drive the product roadmap and feature enhancements that will ultimately benefit all of higher education.
Recently I caught up with Lindsay Smith, director of client services at rSmart, to understand some of the key things institutions should consider before deploying OneCampus, the cloud-based service that gives students, faculty, and staff one easy place to access all campus services from any computer or device.
According to Smith, one of the first questions she is often asked is “Where should we start?” Her advice is always “Start with your why:”
- Why are you implementing OneCampus?
- Why is your current solution no longer meeting user needs
- Why should your stakeholders get excited about it?
By solidifying answers to these questions, institutions will be ready to inspire others and create the necessary buy-in to ensure their OneCampus deployment is a success.
Next, here are five additional things to consider as you get started with your deployment:
- Build the Right Team
Having the right folks in the right roles is crucial. Smith suggests forming a cross-functional team with representatives from departments such as marketing/communications, information technology (IT), and student affairs.This team will be instrumental in helping with the site’s initial set-up including branding and authentication. They will also be a great resource for collecting information about all of the applications/services used across campus, how to best organize these tasks, and how to effectively roll out the site. Another key group you may want to involve is your students.
- Distributed vs. Centralized Publishing
After assembling a team, consider what level of access you plan to give each member. Some institutions prefer to manage OneCampus with a small, centralized team of administrators. Others prefer to distribute publishing rights across a broader group while relying on a centralized team to provide oversight and direction to the larger group.
With either methodology, Smith encourages all administrators to attend the complimentary two-hour introductory training to master the basics. Quick guides and FAQs are also provided in rSmart’s Customer Care Center.
- Overall Site Layout
Before getting too far into the actual site setup and build out, it is important to consider how things will be organized. For example, how you plan to bucket things into categories (e.g. academics, campus life, finances), what will be the roles (e.g. student, faculty, parent, staff), and whether you have more than one location or campus.
These items can be adjusted as you go, but it makes life a bit easier when there are overarching layout plans to start. During this stage, Smith encourages institutions to take a peek at what other schools have done with their sites and to ask for help when brainstorming ideas.
- To Pilot or Not to Pilot
As site build out begins, schools will want to consider whether they plan to roll out OneCampus to all campus users at the same time or to a subset of users for beta testing. A few factors to consider include the size of a institution, timeline for rollout, culture/expectations with software deployments, and whether or not OneCampus is replacing an existing system.
Smith also encourages institutions to determine the minimum number of tasks (or services) they plan to build out before the pilot or launch. This number will likely vary from school to school but when users visit OneCampus for first time, it’s important that they can easily find what they’re looking for and that the site makes a good first impression.
- Promote Your Site
A final key step in the deployment process is getting the word out about OneCampus. An institution’s marketing and communications team can be a great resource and provide guidance on the best time to start telling users about the new tool.
Additional ideas and vehicles for promoting OneCampus include e-mail communications, branded promotional items, campus billboards, freshman orientation, campus events, and parent weekends.