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The time to implement Campus Café depends on many factors. Given the hundreds of configurable items and features in Campus Cafe, institutions often pursue a phased approach with foundational functions launched first and more advanced functions later.
The information below provides a general guideline on implementation. It is important to understand that the institution’s speed of providing/validating data and staff availability will directly correlate with speed of implementation. Additionally, factors outside of the control of the institution or Campus Café such as the federal financial aid year may impact a launch date.
Institutions should carefully consider the academic calendar when launching Campus Café. Best practice recommends launching a student information system outside of a registration or grading period. The launch window ideally should be during a quiet time in which usage is low, such as during a vacation period.
The financial aid year and student federal loan originations are also important. Institutions typically originate loans several months in advance. Converting to a new system with loans outstanding could jeopardize the ability to disburse those loans. Institutions are encouraged to identify a time when loan origination has ended for one year and not yet started for the next.
Data conversion involves taking the institution’s existing data and putting it in Campus Café. This complex process typically involves hundreds or thousands of individual data fields and involve thousands or millions of individual records. The more data being converted correlates with a longer implementation timeline. Institutions may store data in multiple systems (student information, financial aid, admissions, advising) and each system adds to the complexity and timeline. Rushing the process risks leading to inaccurate data and a challenging launch.
After the data is converted into Campus Café, the institution must validate its accuracy. The time it takes is directly dependent on the amount of data and the availability of the institution’s staff. A rushed data validation jeopardizes the integrity of a student’s academic, billing or financial aid record.
Campus Café includes hundreds of configurable items from user permissions to billing rules. Generally, the more rules, the longer the configuration. For example, an institution that charges a flat tuition rate for all programs once per semester could generally configure billing rules in less than a day. An institution with dozens of academic programs, multiple fees and hundreds of transaction codes may take several days or weeks to configure.
Campus Café offers integrations with specific vendors that provide services such as payment processing, texting and learning management platforms. (A list of vendors in provided under Getting Started with Campus Cafe > Setting Up Campus Cafe.) Configuring these integrations takes time and requires cooperation and time from the institution. Institutions that work with vendors to manage or host these solutions must consider those vendor’s availability and responsiveness when estimating the timeline. If the institution wishes to integrate with a system that Campus Cafe does not have a pre-existing connection to, such integrations typically require an additional contract and take months to design and build assuming the other vendor allows connections. The more third-party integrations requested, the longer the implementation timeline.
Once configured, the settings and third-party integrations must be tested by the institution. Failing to test the configuration could lead to unexpected behavior upon launch. The time required for user acceptance directly correlates with the complexity of the configuration, number of integrations and availability of the institution’s staff.
Campus Café offers training for the platform’s features. The amount of training correlates to how many users need training, the complexity of the configuration and the complexity of the institution’s business processes. For a perspective, consider an institution that seeks a nominal 24 hours of training. That would generally fall across four to five business days if the institution set aside those days exclusively for training. More commonly, training is delivered in small segments over several weeks to provide a more manageable experience for users.