Proposed New Business Model for HEUG

By Stan Jakubik posted 07-17-2009 09:04 AM


A major and very critical decision date for the financial future of the HEUG will take place on August 13 at the Summer Full HEUG Board meeting.  At that time I will be asking the Board to consider a fundamental change in our current Business Model that will impact each institution and individual HEUG member.  I have created a video, accessible at 

to give you background on why I believe this change to be necessary.  Please take the time to listen to this 6 minute presentation so that you can evaluate and react to the proposal.  The formal proposal is also available at that location.

 Let me be clear that this is a proposal.  It has been vetted through the executive team of the board and through the PAGs/TAG structure for an initial reveiw.  It is not a "done-deal".  This is a complex issue that needed considerable discussion within the HEUG structure and now needs your evaluation and comments.  Before the Board votes, it is imperative that we have your feedback.  The Board has the right and responsibility to evaluate, modify, accept or reject outright this entire proposal or any of its components.

Please use comments to this Blog as a vehicle to express your opinions in an open public forum.  If you prefer to comment privately, send your comments to our Executive Director, Lew Conner, at 

 I look forward to hearing from you.  Stan                  

1 view


07-31-2009 02:36 PM

membership fees

For the work we do, HEUG is one of our most valuable resources.  We are expected to pay user fees on almost every application user group we currently belong to, that being said I believe the cost, at least for the Canadian Schools is very reasonable for the return on our investment.

07-31-2009 02:16 PM

Comments on Proposed New Business Model

Like many who have already provided commentary here, I too would be very interested in seeing more detail related to current cost cutting measures in place within HEUG.  What steps are being taken, how effective have they been, and what future actions are being considered/planned to further reduce expenses? 

Additionally, I would like to know more about what other revenue-generating options have been or are being considered.  While a membership fee based revenue stream adds a layer of diversification, how is it any better protected from tough economic conditions than conference registration fees?  If I am having a conversation about cutting costs, I'm likely considering conference fees and user group membership fees in the same sentence.  

Assuming some of these questions can be adequately answered, I would likely argue for paying the membership fee.  But that argument has to be justifiable, and HEUG has the responsibility of providing additional information to help build the case.  

07-29-2009 09:56 AM

New Business Model: Is Buying Influence The American Way?

Yes, I can see that the whole world is going through some sort of financial capitulation and every organization on the planet is trying to address this issue in different ways.  In principal, I am not opposed to a membership fee.  I get it, HEUG is a valuable organization and it should not be left to wither on the vine.

However, the association between the paid membership and access to the PAG/TAG structure is where the new model begins to go astray.  HEUG as an organization has evolved over the years and is no longer the independent body it once was.  The integration into Oracle's business model and strategy is transparent.  And that is a very good thing.  Participation by these schools in the PAG/TAG structure helps keep the products viable and relevant to the broadest set of customers.

If the relationship between the paid membership and access to the PAG/TAG structure could be removed, I think the whole plan would be easier for folks to swallow given the value of the HEUG organization.

07-27-2009 05:48 AM

Reality Check 2

& at the risk of repeating the comments from Ian Holmes from the University of Queensland...

I think it's amazing & highly commendable that the HEUG has managed to exist & at such a level of quality for so long without charging any membership fees. Like most institutions we're members of a number of organisations where we feel the value we get justifies the membership fee - & in terms of value the HEUG sits right towards the top, whilst being the only user group I can think of that we're in that doesn't charge at all.

Appreciate the financial difficulties we're all in but I really do think that as a user group the HEUG is immensely useful in the services it provides (& I haven't spotted any other commnets disgreeing with this), & I don't know how we'd get that sector-wide & increasingly global voice/interaction with Oracle if it either became financially insupportable or membership dwindled because of the fee being charged.

Like Ian Holmes, I think we'd want to continue as members even if there was no reduced fee for international members in the proposal.

John Townsend

Liverpool John Moores University 


07-25-2009 12:06 AM


The HEUG is THE place for us to interact as a community of peers. The HEUG creates the conditions that allow us opportunities to learn from this collective hive to ultimately further improve upon the success of our constituents and organizations. The new business model is necessary for the HEUG to remain a vital organization so that we can continue to do our work with the benefit of the knowledge we gain through our participation in this community. The return on investment is well worth it.

07-22-2009 02:40 PM

Equitable Business Model

HEUG provides a valuable source of written information along with access to a community of users with extensive knowledge.  In many respects, it is our only “training” opportunity and the proposed business model seems inexpensive and equitable considering the vast amount of knowledge/information that we gain through our HEUG association.   

07-22-2009 02:13 PM

Is it possible to have lower fees?

I have heard some PAG members tell me privately that they don't believe their institutions can afford to pay the fee, especially when their fee will be in the $3500 - $7000 fee. Is it possible to ask for a lower fee especially in the first few years so that we don't lose some of our valuable PAG members? If not can you share with us the calculation that you used to determine how the fee structure was determined? Thanks, Julie

07-21-2009 05:14 PM

This is tough for the VCCS

The VCCS would be looking at a payment of $5,250 and this would be difficult for us.  I would be much more comfortable with this if I had more information on the finances and budget of the HEUG, and I suspect that for any such membership fee to work there will need to be regular budget status reporting.  I would also be concerned that should a lot of member institutions not agree to this, then the value of the HEUG will decrease setting up a vicious cycle.

 At this point in time, I cannot say whether VCCS would pay this or not.

07-20-2009 08:03 PM

HEUG is a keeper!

My campus has received great value from participating in HEUG/Alliance for several years.  As others have noted, the greatest value ultimately is from sharing experiences and needs, and floating new ideas.  The annual conference is great for those activities, as well as putting campus staff within earshot of experts (from other campuses, Oracle/PS and vendors) that seldom would happen without the annual conference.

Having said that, HEUG and the annual conference likely will need to change, just as many of us are writing to indicate that our campus participation will change.  I hope that we will not let HEUG go into a death spiral precipitated by reduced attendance at the annual conference, which of course will reduce the amount that vendors are willing to pay to participate, etc.  The 2010 conference will almost certainly be smaller than previous conferences.  That may not be a bad thing.  The conference had become so large it was almost unwieldy.  Perhaps the conference could be accomplished in a shorter amount of time, reducing lodging and per diem for participants.  Also, these tough economic times suggests that some of the nice, but not core, activities of the annual conference could be eliminated.  Personally, I could do without the musical evening, and the motivational speakers, without diminishing my interest in attending.

 The role that HEUG plays as the voice of higher education with Oracle/PS and other vendors is invaluable to our continued progress.  Without HEUG, higher education risks becoming the step child of Oracle/PS planners and developers.  HEUG participation is critical to maintaining this voice.  If an institutional fee is essential to permit continuing access for many individuals from each campus in application groups (even if they can't all attend the annual conference), it seems a small price to pay.  Let's not forget that several campuses already pay institutionally by supporting their staff who volunteer time to make sure that HEUG learns of the needs of campuses and represents those needs to Oracle/PS and other vendors. 

07-20-2009 10:46 AM

will conference fees go down for members?

Will conference fees go down for members?

07-20-2009 09:33 AM

Proposal with Budget.

I agree that a single source of revenue from the HEUG conference is not sustainable. Some quick calculations based on numbers provided in the FAQ - Let's say conservatively 450 institutions (900 campus noted in FAQ) put up an average of $1000 (again a conservative low number) in fees, this would generate $450,000 dollars.  This would be in addition to revenue generated from the conference. Any one of our organizations would love to have that kind of money added to our budget.  Please share a proposed budget that would show how the funds generated would be used.  I realize my revenue calculations are just a guess.  I'm sure this proposal was based on similar revenue calculations of your own.  Please share those as well.

07-20-2009 09:27 AM

Membership fee OK, but half the price

I can understand why HEUG has the need for a membership fee, but since we are a small community college (2100 FTEs), we cannot afford much of a membership fee.  We would support a fee, but it would need to be a smaller amount - maybe half the price?

07-19-2009 11:59 PM

Sustainable business model required

Maybe it has something to do with the water in Australia, but I would have to agree with my colleague Ian at UQ. We are all feeling the pain of the GFC and times will get better, however if the HEUG is to remain a critical link in our negotiations with Oracle and provide forums for networking PeopleSoft issues it needs to have a sustainable business model. Within Australia and even at a State Level, entities such at the Council of Australian University Directors of ICT (CAUDIT) and the Queensland Regional Network Organisation (QRNO) both levy members and the levy is significantly higher than that proposed for HEUG membership. The value each membership and voting right returns is in real terms significant and fundamental at sector level. To loose the HEUG through institutions not seeing its real value and refusing a small contribution to ensure it remains sustainable would not only be a shame, but an inditement of those that to coin the phrase "want a free lunch". My only suggestion, is as others have commented, to ensure the visibility of the financial side to member institutions and to look at ways of broadening the value chain for members to offset some of the pain with new or innovative services and initiatives. Having to review the appropriateness of subscription levies on a number of Boards I sympathize with the level of emotion this discussion brings about and believe that Stan has taken the right approach to members in putting the challenge on the table. No funding means no HEUG, or one with severely reduced capability and I for one would recommend the modest investment as being value for money.

07-19-2009 08:00 PM

Reality check!

First off, I feel great sympathy for those institutions in the US that are 'doing it tough' in the current financial climate.  Here in Australia the global financial crisis has not bitten quite so deeply (so far).  My institution (Uni of Queesland) has certainly tightened its belt very firmly, but it sounds as though we're still better off than many of you.  I should also point out that I'm a PAG member (Student Records), but have no direct involvement with the HEUG Board.

UQ is a firm believer in the HEUG concept and we greatly value the advocacy role they undertake with Oracle on our behalf.  Thus UQ will gladly pay the membership fee.  I strongly suspect we'd be quite prepared to pay the full amount for an institution of our size ($3500), rather than the capped international fee of $750.

Membership fees for voluntary organisations can always be somewhat controversial, particularly when dollars are tight.  However, I'd suggest there aren't any viable alternatives.  I believe Dave Baugh floated a few possible alternatives in a blog some months ago and I remember thinking at the time that all of them would be very complex to administer.  It would be a struggle to persuade volunteers to undertake the workload and paid staff would eat into any profits.

Some comments have been made in this blog about asking vendors and/or Oracle to contribute funds instead of institutions paying membership fees.  We need to remember that vendors are also struggling in the current financial climate and are thus looking for ways of reducing their expenditure.  The revenue stream from vendors would also be somewhat unpredictable from year to year.  We should also ask ourselves if we would really want the HEUG to be financially beholden to Oracle, for a major percentage of annual income, when the HEUG is meant to be advocating to Oracle on our behalves.  I'd suggest financial independence from Oracle is far preferable.

Until the discussions at Alliance 2009 I hadn't realised the annual conference was the major source of funds for the HEUG.  Even if we weren't in the middle of a financial crisis, my reaction to such a revelation would have been what a huge risk such an approach represents.  The annual conference could easily be placed at risk by any number of scenarios, eg transport strikes, pandemics, etc.  A diversified and more predictable revenue stream will minimise the risks.  I do agree with the comments in this blog that call for publication of the HEUG's financial position, but it should be a one page summary with an explanation (video or PowerPoint).  This may help in making the case with our institutions.

Various people have commented that their institutions won't be able to afford the member ship fee.  Can we afford to not support the HEUG?  When the going gets tough it's more important than ever to adopt a strategic rather than a reactionary approach to expenditure cuts.  I suggest you'd struggle to find better value for money than the proposed membership fees for the HEUG.  This is the very time we need a strong HEUG advocating for us.

I've often said we Aussies are blunt/plain speakers.  So in that spirit feel free to tell me to pull my head in (Aussie slang), but do think carefully about the HEUG's funding dilemma.  Membership fees would seem to me to be the fairest approach, ie the user pays principle.

Ian Holmes
University of Queensland (Australia)



07-17-2009 05:40 PM

A huge loss if this deal goes through

I certainly agree and echo earlier statements that the HEUG owes much of its success to the large participants that are involved. By requiring a membership fee, the HEUG will certainly lose a large percentage of its members and given the unprecedented economic downturn and the slashing of State budgets (California as an example), many institutions will simply have no choice but to forgoe being a member of the HEUG. The availability of funds associated with the cost of travel to these conferences is under question or has already been frozen. This is not a good idea! Find another way to fund the HEUG... certainly the vendors have a vested interest in having a large turnout... losing member will be the same as losing potential customers.

07-17-2009 03:41 PM

Single, most valuable resource

For the work we do, HEUG is our single, most valuable resource.  We will find a way to pay. That being said, what makes HEUG so valuable is the interaction with other member schools.   I hope members will take the time to make a cost-benefit analysis argument to their budget managers. There is no question for us that HEUG has saved us more money than the fees they are proposing.

07-17-2009 03:40 PM

what are the alternatives?

Let me start out by saying that our institution, like many others, is facing a no travel and salary reducing budget.  To top it off, the state announced Monday that they will cut an additional 170 million from higher education.  Tough times are getting tougher.


What are the alternatives to a membership fee?  I'd like to see other options since it is very unlikely we will be able to pay for the next several years.  At the same time, I'd hate to see the collapse of the HEUG.  Please let us know of any other options.

07-17-2009 02:53 PM

Timing is bad for this

I'd like to echo everyone else's comments that this is an exceptionally difficult time to be asking for additional funds...regardless of purpose.

I find HEUG very useful and look forward to the conference, but convincing the university to pay for membership while we have hiring freezes and budget cuts will be a losing battle.

If we participate at all, I suspect it will be as a subscriber and not a full member since our travel budget has been eliminated and most likely won't return until 2012.

07-17-2009 02:39 PM


From the comments posted, there seems to be a consensus regarding the HEUG's new business model proposal.  Before making a decision, it would be helpful to disclose the financial reasons for this proposal and to provide other options for a business model and raising revenue.  In the current ecomomic times our institution has halted travel, not to mention no salary increases!  As noted from the other colleagues there is a good probability that HEUG involvement will decrease.  We use the HEUG and have attended many conferences in the past.  I can only hope we will be able to send a few people to future HEUG conferences but given the current situation I think it will be hard to convince management to begin paying for this.  Please consider other options.  Subscribers and paid membership could create division within the HEUG.  Let's stay on an equal playing field.

07-17-2009 02:35 PM

full proposal document

I can not get the full proposal document to open so I am commenting without full knowledge of the proposal.  However, one way to make this work is to make the conference registration low enough that the subscription/membership fee vs. conference registration costs are a wash for most member institutions (using the years of high attendance as the base).  This would encourage attendance for the conference as well.

07-17-2009 02:29 PM

full proposal document

07-17-2009 02:12 PM

Everybody needs money & many institutions are cash-strapped

Many schools in California are cutting course offerings, laying off people, reducing salaries, refusing to accept additional enrollments, etc... simply to make ends meet. If you hit them with a fee-based option at this time, you may as well expect the greater majority of your member California schools to drop out of the HEUG. Basically, you can't get blood out of a stone. This is not a reflection on whether or not I think your model is a good or a bad one, this is a reflection of the budget problems in the state of California and the hit the educational institutions are taking as a result.

07-17-2009 02:07 PM

Greater Costs Transparency

Universities that can pay will want greater transparency into the budget and costs.  I think being willing to provide full disclosure is a critical success factor to be considered in the business model change.

07-17-2009 01:14 PM

excluding people from governance might create exclusivity?

Ok, "subscribers" (people from non-institutional fee paying campuses) will be completely excluded from holding governance positions. This has the potential for creating exclusivity. I'm not sure that the FAQ is correct in asserting that "diversity" (whatever that means) will be maintained.

07-17-2009 01:10 PM

Proposed New Business Model

It would be helpful to understand the need for such a change in the business model if the HEUG budget were made available.  In an era of full disclosure, it would lend credence to the dire circumstances that are being discussed.

07-17-2009 01:00 PM

I feel like the HEUG will lose members

At our school we have been asked to determine which memberships we can cut and are resubscribing to only the most necessary organizations.  While I feel that the HEUG is useful it is not critical to keep our business going and would have a hard time justifying a $750 annual membership. 

 In the past we have received good information and help from the members of the HEUG but I agree with the post from Kyra, there will be fewer members to exchange with if the current proposal is implemented. 

What other cost cutting measures have been looked at?  Are there things that could be cut from the Alliance conference without a detrimental affect?  Could there be more vendor support?

07-17-2009 12:53 PM

but will people pay to join?

I understand you need to find a way to make money - but please consider what losing a large chunk of your members will do to the organization. 

Our organization is so strapped, it's not even just travel that's being cut but any expenses (including salaries!), so even if we felt that it was worth paying to remain part of this group, we wouldn't have the money.

IMO, the usefulness of HEUG is having a large group that exchanges ideas freely.  Shrinking that group to those willing to pay makes it less useful, which in turn will lead to less members.

Can you not pressure Oracle & the vendors who advertise to pony up some more money since they seem to spend a large portion of the conference cheerleading their products and trying to sell us more products/services?