How to Evaluate an SIS Integration for Class Scheduling
Evaluating a new product integration with your SIS can be challenging. To assess the quality of an integration look to see if the integration uses flat files, if it integrates all data, and how changes to the integration can be made.
In recent years, a tight SIS integration has become essential to adopt new products. But not all of us are experts on how to integrate with a legacy SIS systems. How do you know if a vendor will really deliver a true integration? Use the following three guidelines to help you determine if a prospective integration will meet your institution's modern needs.
True integrations don't use flat files
Be careful about vendors that tell you they have the tightest integration on the market and then pitch nightly file transfer, otherwise known as SFTP. While this may be the most common way to integrate with Student Information System, it also often requires the institution’s IT staff to do more work mapping your SIS with the files, and is the “laziest approach”. You want to ask the vendor whether they have a “true” integration. For Ellucian products, this is most often via Ethos or API’s, for Peoplesoft, it’s Integration Broker & Component Interface. Don’t settle for someone sending you a CSV.
Real integrations integrate all data, not some
Oftentimes, vendors will tell you that they can integrate with your SIS and that they’ve done it with many other institutions. But will they integrate with all of your fields, even the complicated ones? Can they integrate with reserve caps in Peoplesoft? Course Fees? How about if you’ve made customizations to your SIS? Make sure you ask about each one and that they can do it. If they say no, it’s a sign they’ve probably got an inflexible, legacy integration. Check out an example of a robust, real integration with Banner.
Make sure you can make changes to the integration and monitor it without needing IT
The integration that is set up today won’t be the one you’re using tomorrow. Room data changes, you’ll add additional fields to the SIS, you’ll want to sync syllabi back to your SIS etc. When these changes happen, you don’t want to have to call IT to get involved, and then wait 3 months for them to hand you a reluctant DBA. Find a vendor that provides a no-code middleware solution so that you can easily adjust all aspects of the integration without needing a programmer.