New $10 million computer system should ease financial aid, registration

Sam Houston State University has purchased a $10 million computer program that will make everything from financial aid to registration easier. It’s called “Banner,” and it’s coming to a campus near you.

Banner is an ERP System, which stands for enterprise, resource and planning. It is made by a software company called SunGard, developed by their higher education department as a campus administrative program.

“For the last 30 or 40 years, most of SHSU’s computer systems have been developed in-house, by our own programmers,” said Jacob Chandler of Computer Services.

But as the university grew, problems in the system arose as more and more departments and students asked so much of it. The former system just couldn’t meet the capacity requirements, and was beginning to age.

“Just as with any program, as it gets older it can’t be supported and needs an upgrade,” Chandler said.

The campus considered purchasing Banner because it was more cost- and time-effective to buy it than to attempt to write the programs itself with it’s limited staff.

In August of last year, President Jim Gaetner appointed a committee to evaluate the old system and investigate Banner. The committee decided that Banner was the best choice as a replacement system after conversing with other universities that already run the massive administrative Program, and purchased it in December.

Over the past 18 months, Banner has been implemented into the financial aid department. So far, it has been a great success for both Computer Services and financial aid. For the rest of the university, full implementation will not be complete until December of 2011, three years from the date of purchase

A SunGard representative said that the reason it will take this long is because the implementation process is akin to trying to rebuild the foundation of a house while still living in it.

Though Banner will eventually govern almost every computer resource on campus, such as human resources, financial aid, payroll and more, there will still be some systems covered by Computer Services personnel.

Leave a Reply