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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Modernization is a Worthy Goal for Higher Education Institutions

Yaldah Hakim Rashid
Director, Cloud Applications Product Marketing

By Valerie Kennon and Yaldah Hakim

Higher education is in the hot seat, and plenty of people are stoking the flames. Politicians decry skyrocketing tuition and debilitating debt. Students want a more personalized experience and Amazon-like engagement. And corporate leaders are complaining that they can't find enough graduates with the right skills. 

One of the best ways higher education institutions can proactively cut costs, improve student engagement and keep pace with workplace expectations is to migrate business process technology to modern, cloud-based solutions. Specifically, they should replace asset-draining legacy finance and HR systems that simply were not designed for a mobile, digitally connected world. Cloud-based systems are more agile and user friendly, and can be sustained without ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs. 

How Cloud Systems Benefit Students

All worthy higher education goals revolve around students, and the outcomes of using cloud-based systems benefit students directly. Let's take a look at three of the top benefits.

Benefit No 1: More Engaged and Successful Students

Most of today's students grew up in an always-on, mobile-enabled world. They expect the same personalized, rapid-response service of the commercial sector and become frustrated when it's not delivered on campus. Business processes touch students throughout their education journeys, from signing up for a campus visit to choosing classes to registering for graduation. When those experiences are negative, students lose confidence in the education they're receiving.

Conversely, research shows that cloud-based technology improves student engagement and performance. According to the research firm MarketsandMarkets, "Adoption of cloud-computing technologies has resulted in . . . improved collaboration between student and institution, better learning and innovation, higher student success, higher administrative efficiency, better knowledge sharing and improved consultancy to students."

Benefit No. 2: Refocused Resources

Boise State University has been a leader in migrating to cloud-based ERP, a move leaders made out of necessity after the state cut 25% of funding. An upgrade to the existing PeopleSoft system was imminent, and leaders saw a perfect opportunity to migrate to Oracle ERP Cloud, which they saw as a more future-focused, sustainable model that better aligns with the university's mission.

"In order for Boise State to meet our goals, we needed to change our budgeting model and our strategy, and in order to do that, we needed systems," explains Stacy Pearson, VP of Finance and Administration. "Vendors like Oracle can help in higher education by helping us with the business processes. Let's save our innovation for academics and our research mission as opposed to how we pay our bills."

Benefit No. 3: Data-Supported Guidance, Visibility and Measures

Cloud-based systems are powerful enough to rapidly crunch data and then present meaningful results in dashboards, automated reports and other tools that you don't need to be a data analyst—nor rely on IT—to use. Process data also is stored securely in one location and automatically updated.

Campus leaders can quickly and definitively answer questions such as: Which programs are most cost-effective? Which classes are trending in lower/higher demand? Where does this student need more help to be successful?

With a renewed focus on outcomes, higher education leaders benefit from being able to proactively make changes to ensure they achieve benchmarks (such as retention and graduation rates) that often are tied to funding.

Taking a Practical Path Forward

Considering past experiences with on-premises ERP and human capital management (HCM), fears of a lengthy, disruptive migration are understandable. Taking the first step toward cloud migration can seem daunting, but using a practical, phased approach can ease the transition. Few institutions will be able to scrap all of their legacy systems at once, so we advise starting somewhere, getting your feet wet, and then rolling out the solutions to other areas.

Our higher education customers often start in the finance and human resources functions because the work is more standardized, and the user populations are smaller—which makes these departments good testing grounds and provides opportunity to build momentum.

An important consideration when choosing a migration partner is what's driving their system development. Oracle has built its cloud portfolio on a collection of modern best practices based on our experience with a variety of industries, so our ERP, HCM and other solutions align with top performance across general industry as well as within higher education.

In addition, partnering with a global technology leader like Oracle—which has a viable and proven track record of secure data management—can alleviate security concerns, because we have the resources to invest in security that some institutions may not be able to provide. Oracle has the resources, the expertise and the dedicated cloud security experts to support 24x7 proactive security monitoring. We also provide customers with the benefits of secure data isolation—ensuring that their data is never co-mingled with other customer data. With this level of security, higher education institutions can rest assured that their staff, student and back office data is secure in the cloud.  

It can be easy to put off what many consider an inevitable mandate to migrate to the cloud, but higher education institutions that embrace this technology transformation will differentiate themselves from the competition by putting their students first.

For additional details on how to modernize your institution, download the eBook, "Modernize Your Business with Oracle ERP Cloud."

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