But depending on the size or scope of a project a dedicated manager can be beneficial. “If the program scales large enough, a small, dedicated card office can also make sense,” Summerall says.
While magnetic stripe has been defacto ID technology on campus for years contactless smart cards are making inroads to the campus market. The system vendors should work with the institution to determine the technology or technologies best suited for the specific situation.
Technology selection again hinges on what the campus wants to do with the card, vendors agree. “It’s very important to educate (the campus decision makers) on available technologies so they understand their options,” Blackboard’s Bell says.
So the inventory has been done, the project scoped, a vendor selected and wire pulled. It is time to deploy but the question is when to rollout the new system?
“Most programs launch over the summer; that’s never a bad idea,” Summerall says. “But it certainly can be done at winter break with proper planning.”
Others disagree with the preference for summer rollouts.
Bell says summer is the worst time to deploy a campus card system. “I was on a campus for 30-years and I understand the drive to do everything in the summer but it’s wrong,” he says.
Staff vacations, competing projects and rushed deadlines are all obstacles to overcome trying to deploy a new system during the summer, Bell says. Starting a deployment at the beginning of a fall semester works well, Bell has found. “The most staff is around, it helps with training and understanding what’s going on,” he says.
NuVision’s Adoff says that a mid-semester launch can work just as well. “All of the campus staff is present and there is actual student data to practice with,” he says.
As for the length of time that it will take to deploy a new system, it seems there is no perfect answer. Vendors say it varies depending on the size and scope of the system, and estimates range from eight to 12 weeks.
There are precautions institutions can take to minimize problems during the rollout.