Many colleges are faced with the problem of outdated administrative computing systems that consist of: 1 ) thousands of programs that have been patched to the point where it is almost impossible to follow the program logic in order to revise it to meet changing needs; and 2) dozens of flat files containing data that are redundant, inaccurate, and unable to be accessed by modern desktop based query tools. The extraordinary work that it would take to replace these programs with packaged software accessing a relational database makes the situation seem hopeless, particularly given the fiscal constraints and staff cutbacks that are endemic to higher education. One college utilized the user community to perform much of the work involved in converting to a new system. The empowerment of these users was the critical variable which enabled the project to succeed despite the lack of resources to hire additional computer center staff. The presentation will describe the methods used to empower users to become fully functioning members of the project team.