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Datatel Offers Web-Enabled Campus Management Software

For more than two decades, Datatel Inc. has focused on developing its information technology solutions exclusively for the higher education market. Datatel’s products include integrated suites of administrative applications as well as software packages for specific applications such as human resources and finance. Flexibility is key to the company’s success. As new technologies emerge, Datatel’s software solutions have continuously evolved to keep pace with campus trends. The company began as a service bureau, later becoming a specialist in turnkey solutions. The latest product line from Datatel reflects its shift to Web-based and wholly-integrated solutions.

Datatel’s exclusive focus on higher education sets it apart from its competition. “We’ve developed expertise in higher education best practices,” says Shahron Williams van Rooij, director of product marketing. “Not only that, but 75 percent of our employees came out of the higher education setting.”

Given its tight focus, you would expect Datatel to customize its solutions for its audience, and it d'es. Because it was developed specifically for the higher education market, Datatel d'esn’t have to sh'ehorn technology solutions from other industries into the academic setting. For instance, Datatel’s financial system uses encumbrance accounting, a method not used in other markets. And unique to this type of product, Datatel also offers a student management system with open-entry, open-exit rules, reflecting the reality of nontraditional students’ schedules. The system is date driven, not semester driven, to accommodate nonstandard enrollment patterns.

Datatel offers a completely integrated solution. All of its products work in coordination with one another. Customers pick and choose the components that best fit their needs. Because of its open architecture, Datatel’s product line integrates with other vendors’ software as well. Clients choose the platforms, academic software, and database applications they need, knowing that Datatel’s system will fully integrate with outside products. Says van Rooij, “Datatel is continuously monitoring the market to ensure that our applications integrate with new products as they appear.”

The Datatel product line starts with a core system, which holds the data to be used universally by other systems. Around that clusters a collection of software applications and suites, identified by the institutional functions they will serve. For instance, there is a human resources software suite, an e-commerce application, and a financial suite, all of which rely on the core system to supply fundamental data. One of Datatel’s most popular suites is Colleague, an enterprisewide solution. Colleague includes four integrated systems: the Student, Financial, Human Resource, and Institutional Advancement Systems. At the center of Colleague, like the hub of a wheel, the Core System provides a central location for data, workflow development, and process rules that are used by all of the “spoke” systems. A system is in the works that is devoted to the specific needs of continuing education programs.

Users can access data via a standard user interface offline, of course, but Datatel also offers a campus portal, called CampusCruiser, through which users can access all of their pertinent data. WebAdvisor serves as the Web access to Colleague and other Datatel solutions suites. WebAdvisor ensures that students, faculty, employees, budget officers, and alumni can conduct transactions and access information online with a single sign-on. Through CampusPortal or WebAdvisor, for example, students can access information stored in the Student Suite. They can check on their degree programs, get their grades, and find updates on their financial aid status.

WebAdvisor comes in a variety of constituency-specific versions, including WebAdvisor for Students, Applicants, Financials, and Faculty. It features prepackaged workflows that reflect common campus transactions. Clients can use WebAdvisor out of the box, or can brand the look and feel with the included style sheets.

Datatel’s WebAdvisor complies with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and follows each of its directives for accessibility. It has been certified Section 508 compliant by Nu Visions Unlimited Inc., a certifying organization. “We simply worked through the Section 508 checklist, making sure that our product addressed all of its requirements,” van Rooij says.

In addition to its plans to add a new continuing education system, Datatel continues to roll out new constituency applications for WebAdvisor. It’s all part of the evolution process for this nimble organization.

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