TuitionManager 5.0: Release Notes
We are excited to announce that our latest version of TuitionManager, version 5.0, is now publicly released! Many customer-requested features along with general process improvements have been added to the system to enhance the already simple process of submitting, approving, and administering tuition assistance applications.
All existing customers are entitled to this upgrade at no cost. If you have not yet been contacted by your TuitionManager account representative, they will be in touch shortly, or you can reach out at any time to begin the upgrade process. Depending on your system configuration, the upgrade can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to make it available in your test system. However, the production upgrade process will take only a few minutes and will be performed during the standard Sunday morning maintenace window to avoid service interruption to your employees.
New Help Desk
TuitionManager has recently finalized its new internal, entirely U.S.-based help desk that provides Level 2 support for all customer tuition program administrators. Customer admins are still responsible for Level 1 support requests coming from employees, but any questions or issues they are unable to answer should now be forwarded to
Our new help desk will provide Level 2 support in place of directly emailing your assigned technical contact. This will allow for quicker responses to common questions, and if there are issues they are unable to resolve, the request will still be forwarded to Level 3 support, who may often be your original contact. However, to ensure quickest support responses as well as enable TuitionManager to monitor support requests over time and adjust help desk staffing appropriately, please direct all questions and issues to this new email address. What may appear to be a complex issue that only your technical contact can resolve may in fact be something the Level 2 support team can address quickly.
In order to ensure a smooth transition for employees from one version to the next, TuitionManager 5.0 largely maintains the same look-and-feel as previous versions. Navigation works in essentially the same way, so to an employee, the user experience will be nearly identical.
Improved Customer Branding
Rather than the text-based customer name in the navigation header of previous versions, customer logos now appear in the re-designed header by default. This allows for a more familiar branding experience to employees, across all pages.
In addition, customer color schemes will appear more prominent (upon request). Header navigation, which appears on all pages, can be updated to match your organization's specific color scheme. Action buttons (submit new application, approve, reject, etc) can also be updated with a secondary color if desired.
With internet traffic trending toward more mobile vs. desktop access, TuitionManager mobile access stats continue to rise as well. With that in mind, the mobile experience has been re-designed to ensure the best possible experience for employees.
TuitionManager continues to present mobile (and all) content through responsive design rather than through device specific "apps". This means that instead of going to the Apple or Google Play Store from your mobile device or tablet, you simply access TuitionManager in the same manner as you would using a desktop or laptop, and the site's layout will be automatically optimized based on your specific device's screen dimensions.
In order to promote the best possible navigation system, the navigation sidebar has been re-designed to have a more common experience across devices. This is the most prominent design change from previous versions, and due to these differences, all approvers & admin users will see a notification the first time they login after the upgrade, which will proactively explain the update to them.
Simplicitly & power in a reporting tool are often just as important as the simplicitly of the employee application submission process. Because of this, the reporting tool's functionality remains a high priority in the new and future versions of TuitionManager. Our goal is to deliver a reporting tool that is so simple to use that an admin user does not need a training course on the tool itself, while at the same time providing a tool powerful enough to provide valuable insights into your tuition assistance program through both standard reports as well as ad-hoc reports your admins can build on their own.
More default reports & available fields
Additional default reports have been created and are delivered out-of-the-box. Run new reports on user security, user activity, approvals/rejections, and custom datasources.
You can now re-label field headers from the default values (ex: change Fee 01 to Books) to values that are more applicable to your specific report.
Additional functionality available under the field properties section will be added over the coming months and will be automatically deployed to your environment. These enhancements may include, but are not limited to:
- Sorting & grouping
- Data type field formatting options for dates, numbers/amounts
- Hard-coded / literal values
- Calculated fields
Employees can now delegate their approval responsibilities to another employee. Admin users can also perform this action on behalf of employees, and the functionality can be limited to only admin users rather than the general employee population if desired. While there are many scenarios in which an approval delegate may be used, the most common reasons are:
- Delegating your responsibility temporarily to a co-worker who acts on your behalf during your absence from work due to vacation, personal, or other reasons.
- Executive assistants who have been authorized to perform these types of duties on their supervisor's behalf on a regular, ongoing basis.
New Admin Functionality
Your admin users can communicate easily to all employees using the new homepage announcements feature. This allows you to post announcements to the homepage of all users so that it is the first thing they see when they login. Let them know of upcoming deadlines, changes in the policy, new features/processes, and more.
School List Maintenance
TuitionManager's list of accredited schools covers 2,500+ institutions nationwide, but many customers choose to modify this list in one way or another. Rather than contacting TuitionManager support to make these adjustments as you did in the past, you are now able to do so yourself.
Whether you are adding new certification institutes, training organizations, community colleges, or if you're individually adding schools from a very small available list after you've received requests from employees to add them - simply navigate to the new schools administration screen, and add or remove as many as you'd like.
Since tuition assistance policies vary significantly from one organization to another, there is no way to create a standard list of all-encompassing overrides that will work for all customers and all policies. However, as individual override requests become more common, self-service admin override functionality is added for each. Below are the new application override options available with this upgrade:
Rescind the follow-up documentation approval/submission process ("Remove Grade")
A common request recently has been to remove a grade from an application, which means the employee added grades/documentation to the wrong application or submitted a grade prior to the course end date because they were trying to attach additional documentation. Since adding a grade triggers the follow-up documentation process, simply removing the grade still means the application would be pending approval. This new feature backs out that process and reverts the application to pre-approved, at which point the employee would again be able to initiate the follow-up documentation approval process once the course has completed.
Multiple options for admin approvals
In previous versions, the Admin Approve button allowed an approver (with security rights) to approve an application assigned to another approver. However, when using this functionality, it would bypass the remaining approvers and set the status to pre-approved or approved. This is not always the desired outcome, so an option was added to allow the admin approver to choose whether their approval should bypass remaining approvers or simply move the application to the next approver in the chain.
This also solves another common issue of admins reassigning an application to the next person in the approval chain- since the approval engine follows a level-based methodology, reassignment should only be to another person who approves on behalf of the previous approver. ex: if an application is reassigned from the level 1 supervisor approval to another employee, that new approver would be performing the level 1 supervisor approval - they would not be the level 2 approver as is usually intended by this reassignment. The resolution to this issue is now to either reassign to another level 1 approver (as it was in the past), or perform the admin approval on behalf of the level 1 approver, which will automatically move the application on to the level 2 approver as if the level 1 approver took action normally.
Restart the approval process
In rare instances, the approval engine is unable to find the correct approver(s) for an application. When this happens, the application will be in a pending status, but will not have any current approver. The issue is almost always related to supervisor chain mapping - ex: an employee submits an application which should be routed to their supervisor, but the supervisor does not have a TuitionManager account or the supervisor employee ID is otherwise invalid. When this happens, there are two resolutions: one is to follow the reassignment or admin approval steps as described above; the other is to correct your employee eligibility interface and then use this new feature from the View Application screen to restart the approval engine to find the correct approver after the data update has been applied.
Improved Data Wizards
Data wizards are customer-specific screens that allow TuitionManager to implement custom functionality that cannot be otherwise built into standard screens. Although the system can be customized, those customizations are limited in where they can be made or how they can be implemented. The data wizard tool allows you to extend the standard functionality to accomplish your policy-specific requirements beyond the available features in the default system.
Previously, access to the data wizard tool was all-or-nothing. Access can now be granted or revoked on a data wizard-specific basis so that a group of employees may have access to one but not others.
Additionally, all application dropdowns that are tied to custom questions can be managed through a standard data wizard. Simply select the appication and question, and add/remove dropdown values.
Technology & Security Updates
System technology and security updates are made on a constant basis, taking into account updated standards and best practice recommendations from a variety of governing bodies and authoritative sources including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Updates include password policies, user authentication methods & requirements, and general application/server security.
As with previous versions, common customizations have been migrated into standard system configurations so that all customers can take advantage of these updates as well as to provide better, quicker support.
TuitionManager 5.0 is also compliant with the European Union's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) data privacy requirements, and will continue to meet or exceed privacy and data protection regulations from the EU as well as the United States going forward.