Originally made to replace multiple legacy information systems, Mosaic represented a massive change for the university’s administration. In approximately three years since the first piece of Mosaic launched, there have been a myriad of issues with the service ranging from interruptions in the system for students and staff, to generally slow performance, to redundancies for end-users and a generally unclear interface for less common tasks.
The upcoming fall update is the first in a series intended to fix some of these problems. This update is focused on HR functions and the interface. Future updates, happening four times over the next year, promise improvements to finance functions, advanced reporting, the database and the student administrative functions. It will be a long process with plans for yearly or 18 month updates after that point.
From a student perspective, there’s a lot to be excited about. McMaster users suffered through the absolutely terrible MUGSI and SOLAR systems for far too long only to find out that the university wasted millions of dollars on an arguably worse system for end-users. The failures of the past should encourage you to be incredibly skeptical about any of these plans.
This begins with the current update. From Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. until Oct. 31 at 8:30 a.m., all systems related to Mosaic will be closed.
In a Daily News post from July 6, a response to the question of, “Will it be like the launch of Mosaic?” is “This will be a much smaller, less disruptive project.” While that may legitimately be true given how awful the launch was, it’s difficult to say that 86 and a half hours of a major, vital university service experiencing downtime is acceptable in any regard.
While it’s surely difficult to work with a base like the current Mosaic, that should not mean that this amount of downtime is justified. What’s worse, the content of this update does not give any promise that future updates will be any faster.
In a post from Sept. 30, there’s a comparison made between Windows 7 and Windows 10 and the similar changes that will occur on Mosaic’s interface. Mainly, the mobile-friendliness of the site and the ability to personalize Mosaic are the intended selling points. There’s also a line about the interface being deployed to other parts of the system through 2017, implying that they can’t do the entirety of the interface update in 86 and a half hours of downtime, but we’ll focus on what they’ve shown so far.
It’s tacky. The more accurate comparison seems to be between Windows 7 and Windows 8. A tablet and mobile focus made the desktop experience clunky and awkward, and Mosaic has the added benefit of stability being the focus in future updates instead of this one for the average McMaster student. It will show less information on any given screen, and it may actually be more of a pain to use despite the promise that the steps required to complete a task will remain the same in almost all cases. While it may certainly be better for mobile users, I simply cannot see how it’ll be better for the larger portion of desktop users.
I could be completely surprised by the product when it does finish the update. I probably won’t be. While this might sound like a paranoid old man shouting about things he doesn’t know about, the point is that you should have a negative perspective moving forward. McMaster has failed us for far too long, and the lead-up to these updates has been disappointing. The only way the system will ever improve is through feedback, a population willing to notify them about problems and expecting a major part of the school to live up to the standard of what we want to see from the university.