SMU Staff Spotlight – Curt Herridge

Since last summer, the Operational Excellence website has been featuring a series of staff spotlights: stories about staff members who’ve taken on new leadership roles since the implementation of OE2C and are helping bring more innovation and efficiency to campus operations. Read more SMU staff spotlights

Curt Herridge loves to solve problems. “There is something special about finding a solution to a technical problem,” he says. Whether it is building a first-ever data mart for SMU, managing a system outage or saving the University time and eliminating paper usage, he is always up for the challenge.

Curt came to SMU in 2007 to help the University migrate to its current electronic imaging system, ImageNow (AdminImages). He moved from systems administration to team leadership the next year, completed his MBA at Cox in 2010, and was named director of data and integration services in early 2015. Then, when SMU restructured the Office of Information Technology (OIT) in 2015 as part of the OE2C initiative, Curt was promoted to director of software applications.

“In this role, I am responsible for the implementation, operations and maintenance of enterprise software like PeopleSoft (my.SMU, SMU financials); departmental applications in partnership with individual departments; website development and support; and database management,” he says. “The goal of this new structure was to try to organize all teams that support campus software applications into one department, thus streamlining methodologies.”

In their first two years of work, he and his software applications team have achieved significant results for SMU. “We estimate thousands of hours have been saved with the introduction of electronic payroll authorization forms, grounds use forms, additional new payroll forms and others,” says Curt. “We are now automating forms like the one for pre-tax parking deductions. To accomplish this, we partner with a department and move a paper-based form to something electronic. I think it’s truly awesome to save time (and paper!) with technology.”

Curt says his team also tested a method to build a data mart, which is basically a mini data warehouse, from scratch in conjunction with the Simmons CORE group (Center on Research & Evaluation). “The goal was to automate loading of data that had traditionally been moved around in a huge spreadsheet having literally hundreds of columns. We entered into this project with the knowledge that it was completely experimental, and it’s been exciting to see how the work has expanded the skillset of our team and increased our contribution to University research. Now we are working to address our capacity in order to build a data warehouse for SMU.”

Of course, challenges have occurred along the way. “We had a fairly substantial system outage in October 2015, which began on a Saturday,” he recalls. “But our newly formed leadership team was able to band together and perform a massive recovery operation. In fact, some of the practices we developed during that long week still stand us in good stead today.”

In the months to come, Curt and his team will expand the use of technology that is more mobile-friendly. “You may have noticed a change to my.SMU,” he says. “We will continue these critical changes over the next year.”

“We also heard loud and clear that Sitecore, the software that runs www.smu.edu, needs to offer more training and an easier way to make edits,” says Curt. “We have scheduled personalized clinics, updated documentation, and are working on a new set of templates designed to help the brand of SMU move forward.”

Curt says these problems are not easy to solve, but the challenges make the accomplishments even sweeter. “It requires us to have great teams, great partnerships with others on campus, and a willingness to do things differently than before,” he says. “I am proud of the progress we have been able to make together in our first two years, and I’m looking forward to continuing improvements for the campus in the coming year.”