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Systems Development Life Cycle and Change Management

Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Implementation (ESI) department is charged with installing and maintaining the administrative computing systems of the institution. A suite of Banner applications as provided by the vendor Ellucian is the primary enterprise wide administrative system. That being said, there are often situations where a systems development process is called for, such as getting two disparate software packages to interact, enhancing an existing system, and the occasional development of a custom application.

When such a new system is called for, ESI follows a systems development life cycle (SDLC) methodology as outlined below. The more expansive the system, the more closely these guidelines are followed. The general outline, in process order, follows:

  • Project planning, feasibility study: Establishes a high-level view of the intended project and determines its goals.
  • Systems analysis, requirements definition: Refines project goals into defined functions and operation of the intended application.
  • Systems design: Describes desired features and operations in detail, including screen layouts, business rules, process diagrams, and other documentation.
  • Implementation: The actual system code is written.
  • Integration and testing: Brings the various modules together into a testing environment to check for functionality, errors, bugs, and interoperability.
  • Acceptance, installation, deployment: The final stage of initial development, where the software is put into production and executes actual business processes.
  • Maintenance: Changes, correction, additions, moves to a different computing platform and more.

Processing Requests for Services

Lehigh’s ESI department utilizes Footprints to initiate, document and monitor users’ requests for services. The Footprints system is set up to mirror the structure of the university’s departments. Product areas have been established for each of the Banner’s modules which include student, financial aid, human resources/payroll, finance, and advancement. Product areas are also available for the numerous ancillary applications that are integrated with Banner. Primarily, data stewards, data managers or assigned designates have the authority to make a service request utilizing the Footprints application. The Director and Manager of ESI see all such requests. In addition, staff within ESI; see all requests that come under their purview. Correspondence applicable to each request is also handled through the Footprints system. In this way, all relevant information regarding requests for services is managed in a central location.

Requests generally fall into three categories: enhancements to existing vendor systems, installation/integration of new ancillary applications, and interfaces between disparate systems. For the first category, an attempt is made to minimize the impact that the enhancement has on the software package. If the implemented enhancement is beneficial, it may be forwarded to the vendor for possible inclusion with their baseline code. For the latter two categories of requests, an application will ultimately be developed and deployed utilizing the aforementioned systems development lifecycle standards.


Change Management

If a service request calls for the modification of an existing Banner program or any application maintained by ESI, the original version of the code is maintained, and a copy of it is created which will be the starting point for requested changes. These modified modules are identified by a unique name and/or presence in a unique directory on the applicable server. As applicable, ESI staff also document their changes within the code itself.

A complete copy (or copies) of the production environment is available to programmers and functional users for comprehensive testing. These systems reside on separate servers so as to have no impact on the production environment. Once a system modification or enhancement has demonstrated satisfactory results, it may be further tested by the initiator of the service request. As appropriate, the system modification is migrated to the production environment by authorized ESI staff members.

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For additional help, please contact inlewis@lehigh.edu