Watchman is pleased to announce that our STEP platform now supports Bursar Billing and IA Billing services using the Ellucian Colleague Ethos Platform, and that customers are already benefiting from the updated interface and serving their students today.
Since 2016, when Ellucian first introduced its Ethos higher education platform, there have been regular and significant updates that have created a more modern interface to Colleague (and Banner) – making it more stable, robust, and dependable.
Early iterations of Ethos did not enable enough adequate functionality to handle important processes that matter to students and the bursar’s office. However, recent updates have extended the reach of Ethos, prompting Watchman to update its Student Educational Payments (STEP) Platform to embrace these developments.
In this post, we describe how STEP will utilize Ethos and explore why institutions should continue supporting the movement toward broader use of the Ethos Platform.
Well, it wasn’t “older” when Colleague was launched back in 1979. But the fact remains that no on-premise enterprise system from that era could have predicted the evolution to how systems are integrated and need to communicate in today’s world. As such, it is not surprising that Ellucian, Colleague’s owners, have continuously made efforts to modernize Colleague’s capabilities in support of the 650+ institutions using Colleague as their Student Information System (SIS).
Here are some hand-picked highlights on the Colleague timeline:
Today, communication between systems is mission critical, and third-party service providers naturally focus on systems with dependable communication protocols and a large user base in order to reduce costs to the customer.
Watchman focuses on removing the friction between the various alternative payment types on campus, and students’ ability to access and use those payment types. Among the largest of those payment types is student financial aid that is managed within Colleague. Student success is improved when students obtain their course materials before classes start, and we help make that happen. Whether that’s at the store for textbook purchases, or through the LMS for Inclusive Access or digital materials, Watchman can automate the billing process between the student, the service provider (where appropriate) and the SIS.
Financial transactions, by their very nature, need to be accurate and secure. In the best case, that means communicating with the SIS to first check for available funds, followed by capturing those funds and posting a charge to the student account. Being able to confirm that transactions took place properly, and then to reconcile those transactions from source to posting is required for a proper accounting communication process.
As Ellucian describes in their supporting material: Ethos upgrades the ability to communicate with Colleague “through open standards such as JSON and REST”, so that service providers such as Watchman need not rely on “brittle point-to-point integrations”, or custom socket integrations that may require constant tweaking or resetting. Further, both sides can evolve as needed to include additional data without requiring new software installations. This greatly reduces the downtime and system slowdowns that are prevalent when not using Ethos.
Watchman’s STEP platform communicates with the Ellucian cloud with more consistency, yielding better performance, and less maintenance.
We encourage Ellucian Colleague customers to embrace Ethos for current and future capabilities. It offers a modernized API, more consistency, and better dependability. Ethos offers a level of standardization that paves the way for a more consistent implementation of our STEP Platform, reducing the headaches that can result from customizations. IT will welcome the reduced burden on their time during installation, configuration, and testing. Additionally, shorter installation times mean that students will benefit from new services sooner.
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