Time for Change: Collaboration for Improved Communication, Productivity
Consistently ranked among the top public universities in the United States,
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers its 26,000 students academic
programs that span more than 100 disciplines. Coordinating the administration
of a university of this size and stature is a monumental task.
Like many higher education institutions, the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill is challenged to continually improve operational efficiency across
campus. The university consistently looks to the promise of new technologies—to
streamline processes and elevate the productivity of its staff and faculty.
Recently, the university identified an opportunity to use technology innovation
to improve its scheduling capability. We did not have an integrated, standardized
electronic system for scheduling appointments within and across departments.
Faculty and staff relied on paper calendars, personal digital assistants, and
a variety of disparate software systems to manage their schedules. As such,
scheduling even the simplest meeting between departments was often a time-consuming
and labor-intensive process.
The university decided to implement an integrated calendar solution that would
elevate productivity and allow individuals from different departments to easily
access each other's calendars to schedule meetings and events.
To solve our scheduling challenge, we examined several vendor solutions and
looked at developing our own internal solution. We determined that the “build”
strategy would require extensive financial and skill resources and would be
a time-consuming process. It would clearly not be the best use of the university’s
resources. Instead, we focused on finding the vendor solution that would best
meet the university’s needs.
To achieve the goals of streamlined scheduling capabilities, improved efficiency
and cost savings, the university required a solution that would:
• Simplify and consolidate existing systems.
• Provide access campus-wide to faculty and staff regardless of platform.
• Provide high security for sensitive scheduling information.
• Prove to be highly reliable and scalable.
An additional consideration was the selection of a vendor that would offer
We installed the Oracle Calendar, part of the Oracle Collaboration Suite,
in August 2002 and today have more than 5,000 users from every department of
the institution. Staff and faculty users can easily access the system through
Microsoft Outlook, the Web and wireless connections, saving coordination time
and boosting productivity.
In addition to scheduling meetings and tracking schedules, faculty and staff
are using the system’s alert feature to remind them of appointments. Users
now receive scheduling reminders via a range of platforms, from e-mail reminders
to alerts received via personal scheduling devices. The solution makes it hard
to miss an appointment.
The system has also proven itself to be highly available and reliable. With
a large number of departments using the system—and a limited number of
IT staff to support the system—reliability was an important factor in
the university’s decision. As important, the solution is secure and has
the capability to scale to a large number of users.
The new calendaring system quickly became engrained into everyday life at
the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and has literally, changed the
way we work. Staff members from different departments can easily schedule meetings
and access each other’s calendars—something we were not able to
do before. The university has had widespread acceptance of the system at all
levels of the organization—from the executive staff to the administrative
team. With the integrated calendar system, the chancellor’s office can
see departmental calendars, greatly improving visibility and communication throughout
Moving forward, the university plans to roll out Oracle Calendar to its 26,000
students. This next phase will integrate all students, faculty and staff on
one calendar system for the first time, taking productivity and communication
to an even higher level.