By Colleen Good
Operation Effectively Linking Macalester, Macalester’s electronic systems transformation project, will draw to a close this January after two and a half years of development that has included the launch of the web portal, 1600grand, according to Project Director Chuck Standfuss.Operation ELM was instituted in August 2005 to replace Macalester’s 19-year-old information system, Campus Administrative Resource Planning and Student Instructions, which did not provide an online portal. Operation ELM changed this with a new system, Banner, which fostered an internal software system connecting all Macalester departments. Operation ELM allows faculty and staff to change their benefit options, and personal information such as phone number, address and marital status through their computers instead of through the Human Resources Department, The Mac Weekly reported in September 2006.Along with Banner and 1600grand, ELM also founded lesser-known additions, like TouchNet, which makes it possible to pay tuition online.The project was initiated after Macalester became part of the Twin Cities Collaboration, a group of three other colleges, Bethel University, the College of St. Catherine, and Northwestern College. The four colleges had all been using CARS, but sought an alternative system. For two years, the TCC evaluated products and settled on Banner, made by the company SunGard in 2005. Each school individually purchased the products, but they trained together, saving the schools 75 percent on training and consultation by SunGard, Standfuss said.Now, all the major projects behind Operation ELM have been executed, Standfuss said. He also said that when he returns to his permanent job in Human Resources, individual departments will assume the responsibility of utilizing the programs and teaching individuals how to use it. Standfuss is currently working on preparing department heads ready to take over that responsibility. However, it will take some time to learn all the ways in which these products can be used, as they have wide application to the college’s needs, Standfuss said.Standfuss is also in the process of creating a work plan for ELM’s final project, implementing SunGard’s Workflow program. Workflow will make it easier for the administration to share information. The program will be implemented in February, after ELM has officially disbanded.