Organisation - May 11, 2017

Board learns lessons from ditching WISE

Albert Sikkema

The Executive Board has learned some lessons from the failed introduction of the student information system WISE. A new Information Policy manager has been appointed, with a bigger mandate, says Board member Tijs Breukink.

Enrollment of master students. Photo: Guy Ackermans

In its evaluation report Sadder and Wiser, the WUR Council concluded last month that WUR underestimated what it would take to introduce WISE and dropped stitches at every stage of the process. The preparation and coordination was inadequate and there was not enough response to internal criticism.

‘We have taken note of the findings of the WUR Council,’ says Breukink. ‘We have talked to the Council about a package of measures that we have introduced in the meanwhile so as to supervise the implementation of ICT projects better. The findings of the Council are integrated into these, as are the conclusions of an external evaluation.’

The Executive Board will expand, for instance, the role of the Architecture Board, which concerns itself with the coherence of the information systems. This steering committee looks at which sub-projects are needed and how they should be coordinated. Secondly, the role of the Information Policy manager is to be intensified. This manager will have more decision-making power during the implementation of a new information system. Maarten Brouwer has been appointed manager of Information Policy. He is also in charge of the IT department at WUR. Three ‘domain architects’ will work under Brouwer, on education, research and operations. The idea is that they strengthen the bridge between the various departments and ICT. WUR also wants to train a pool of project managers who will gain experience of complex information projects.

Due to the failure of WISE, the current student information system AIR will stay operational for another three years or so. Then it will have to be replaced because in a few years’ time the software it relies on will no longer be supported. But before a new system is brought it, an internal working group will evaluate the education system currently in use. The package offered by the provider of WISE turned out to be unable to cope with the vast number of options and exceptions included in the Wageningen education system. The committee is going to study whether the number of choices and exceptions can be reduced, to simplify the introduction of a new system.

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