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Three years after rocky rollout, information technology office launches iO EvolutiOn

Catherine Zhou / Thresher

By Belinda Zhu     3/26/24 10:38pm

When payment system ImagineOne was introduced in 2021, students said they were paid late, left without guidance and never consulted. Then-president David Leebron described the implementation as “terrible.” Paul Padley, the then-interim chief information officer, apologized.

Three years later, students and staff say they still experience issues.

Padley, who assumed the full role as chief information officer in 2022, said that the Office of Information Technology has focused on improving user experience during the past 18 months by soliciting feedback from users across departments such as human resources and payroll. 

“We call this phase iO EvolutiOn: User Experience,” Padley wrote in an email to the Thresher. “The cornerstone for improvements was designing and implementing a governance structure to create seamless partnerships among the iO user community, central administration and OIT.” 

ImagineOne replaced Banner as Rice’s payment system in summer 2021. Banner predated Wi-Fi and Google search by five years, Padley told the Thresher at the time.

However, iO’s implementation still left the OIT searching for the right system.

Following the change, student run businesses described difficulties accessing fund balances, assessing payroll and using the time clock system. Some students said that they were not paid an adequate amount because of the disruptions.

Some graduate students reported issues receiving their paychecks, some going without pay for months. 

Faculty members discussed issues involving delayed payment. Some faculty members also reported issues with accessing grant money and the tracking of funding and spending.

In 2022, student run business described continued issues with iO, including budget trackers and approval from staff through the iO interface. Graduate students described increased difficulties surrounding the approval and tax system on iO. 

Padley said OIT made enhancements through three phases, in response to issues with graduate student pay.

“The first two phases addressed the immediate needs to provide wage and payment statements to the students, improve reporting for the department graduate coordinators and simplify payroll setup for graduate students to reduce opportunities for payroll errors,” Padley wrote. “The final phase is currently underway to address streamlined wages and payments for graduate fellows, which will be accomplished in August of 2024.”

Maria Martinez, who worked on iO as the School of Humanities representative, wrote in an email to the Thresher she’s seen many updates to iO, mostly to the dashboard. 

“While I’m not particularly fond of what feels like constant reminders to ‘receive’ items that have been purchased through procurement’s punchout vendors … they really do work because once received, I’ll make it a point to clear [the reminders] before making my way to other tasks needing attention,” Martinez said.

Nishita Prasad, who used iO over two years for payroll at the welcome center and as a teaching assistant, said that while it is functional, she wishes it could be a little more user-friendly. 

“I couldn’t find out what my wage was for a new job,” Prasad, a junior from McMurtry College said. “I had to wait until I got paid to calculate my wages. I feel like this is pretty important information that would be nice to have on iO. I also have noticed that some tax forms are delivered electronically but others are only mailed, so that has been a bit confusing for me.” 

Camille Wong, who used iO for eight months as a student OIT helper, said information on iO can be initially challenging to find, but once used continuously becomes very straightforward and simple. However, Wong said the homepage’s design can be improved. 

“At the top there is a row of different sections, while below, the column of ‘Quick Actions’ and section of ‘Apps’ adds even more options for the user to choose from,” Wong, a Hanszen College sophomore, said. “As a result, the homepage can become cluttered and confusing for the user to navigate. I think if the options were further condensed, it would help achieve a higher user friendliness.” 

Sage Lee, a Korean language consultant who has been using iO since her freshman fall semester, expressed frustrations using iO to log her hours. 

“There is always some sort of error when I log my hours in,” Lee, a sophomore from Hanszen College, said. “I clock in [before] I have my meeting, and during the meeting, there is a high chance my laptop will sleep. While the computer is asleep, iO fails to keep track of time and always gives me an error, and it takes me so much time to try and figure the error out. Last month, I had another issue of iO double counting my hours and overlapping by adding some logs [by] one to two minutes.” 

According to Padley, the design committee is continuing to fix pain points.

“An analysis is currently underway to assess and implement improvements to the expense module,” Padley wrote. “One of the key discussion points has been how to streamline the process for both undergraduate and graduate students and the staff who support their work.”  

Martinez wrote that she hopes to see additional features, such as a home page search function, and remains hopeful for iO’s future. 

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