Smart strategy with confidence in technology

Some of my best learning experiences in 2015 came from the CIOs and senior IT leaders of our Oracle customers. When I look at the complexities of those institutions and the systems they operate, I am reminded how impressive it is that our leaders create a clear path for institutional success – even amidst the constantly evolving challenges in higher education.

But unsurprisingly, it’s less about technology itself and more about strategy. The ability to envision a seamless student experience or see day-to-day operations through the eyes of a student or faculty member in an effort to improve the overall experience is what is really important.

One of my many learning experiences came from Cal Poly Pomona and a group of California State University institutions sitting around a table with our vice president of development, Bill Filion. The topic they tackled was the many redundant technologies found on campus. What do they do when their CRM, their ERP and their ECM solutions all have workflow? How do they decide which system to build their workflow in?

That’s not a technology question. It’s a strategy question. Our VP showed his true dedication to be strategic with his answer. While workflow is a major part of the OnBase by Hyland solution – something we would define as a huge differentiator – Filion said that OnBase isn’t always the answer.  He instead relayed the questions he would ask in evaluating the same question at Hyland. 

For example, does everyone who needs access to the workflow have access to the CRM? Is the workflow easy to configure in the ERP? Has the workflow already been developed? Will it change frequently? Once you answer these types of questions, Filion explained, the best place to develop the workflow becomes more obvious.

Gettysburg College faced new state regulations in Human Resources. While it took months for the legislation to be formulated and finalized, the regulations were released in November with an “immediate compliance deadline.” The first questions that had to be asked were strategic. What do we need to do to be compliant? Where does the data live? What should this process look like and who must be involved?

I never heard the question ‘is there technology out there to support this?’ I heard strategy and business process questions first. By taking this approach, they had a solution mapped out and implemented in a very short timeframe – leveraging the institution’s PeopleSoft system of record and updating it as needed while using the power of OnBase electronic forms and workflow to quickly become compliant.

Dartmouth College was next to describe their approach to strategy and focused the discussion around the Labor Verification Process for the Office of Sponsored Projects, where they leverage Oracle BI and OnBase.

I don’t have to tell anyone who has managed a grant how arduous the process of managing all the paperwork and compliance can be. By strategically leveraging those two systems, they accomplished an astounding ROI – moving their verification from 40% of projects in 6 months to 100% in 5 weeks. They eliminated the expense of 3 people who did nothing but copy, collate and distribute reports for 2 solid weeks. Now those people focus on completing higher value tasks. But even more important, the new process that protects the institution from risk is much simpler.

Now the time has come to attend HEUG Alliance 2016, giving me the opportunity for another valuable learning experience. Ben Quillian, CSU Northridge associate VP of Information Technology, and Peter Flores, Sonoma State University deputy CIO, will be presenting strategies they have created on their PeopleSoft campuses. Together, they will discuss business processes that demand change to improve the student experience and how they keep their organizations agile and ready for change. All that starts with strategy, but also relies on confidence in technology.

Lucky for all of us, we can hear these presentations directly. Just drop me an email and I’ll pass along the details or the recordings. See you in Seattle!

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