Transitioning to the Oracle Cloud is a big step, and every institution’s readiness level is different. While some are ready to dive in completely and adopt new technologies, others have to find their footing first and ease their way out of their legacy system. Regardless of where they are, it is moving forward that matters.
During a panel session at a conference for members of the Higher Education User Group (HEUG), Jeff Haynes, Baker Tilly director of enterprise solutions and services, moderated a conversation among human resource information system (HRIS) professionals Cindy Martin, Stanford University’s HRIS director; Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University’s chief information officer; and Tom Drazic, Creighton University’s HRIS director. The panelists discussed their respective universities’ unique paths to the cloud platform.
Initially, Martin was not looking to replace what Stanford was using for its core HR needs. However, she knew the university had to find a more advanced replacement for the highly tailored performance management system it had been using in tandem with a system that was about to be discontinued.
Due to the university’s experience with Oracle products, Martin was aware of Oracle Talent Management Cloud. Still, her team explored other products to see if anything would be a better fit. They then realized that no other system met more of their requirements than Oracle Talent Management Cloud. Martin and her team collaborated with the university’s technology experts, 26 different schools, and varying business units to ensure the most effective implementation of the system. In the end, Oracle Talent Management Cloud allowed Stanford to configure the product to fit the processes of each of the entities.
Based on prior experience, Martin hired Baker Tilly to implement the product. She said it was important that the firm already understood the university’s needs and where Oracle Talent Management Cloud would fit within the organization’s processes. She also appreciated the collaborative approach Baker Tilly took with her team, giving the right guidance when they started to go off course.
After Drazic was hired by Creighton about eight years ago, he saw how dated the university’s systems were. He quickly got to work on creating a three-phased approach to transition the university’s systems to the cloud, starting with HR and payroll before moving on to compensation and performance management.
Although his team conducted an extensive RFP process, Drazic chose Creighton’s legacy vendor, Oracle, and became an early adopter of HCM Cloud.
Just as Stanford had done, Drazic worked with the university’s different schools to discuss how each of their manual processes would evolve with Oracle Cloud HCM. These conversations yielded some unexpected byproducts: his team started to think differently about the implementation, and the school felt more ownership in the process, rather than it being something IT was making them do.
Because the HCM Cloud product was so new when Creighton started its process, it didn’t have many options for implementation consultants. The consultant used with the first phase did not collaborate with Drazic’s team to help them understand the product or the process. So, after getting several recommendations for Baker Tilly, Drazic engaged the firm for the second and third implementation phases.
Baker Tilly conducted design sessions with Drazic’s team to understand the ins and outs of the product and its functionality and made sure they would know what to do with any updates to the system.
To alleviate the growing pains Boise State was having with its financial system, Davis-Johnson knew the university would have to undergo a major technology overhaul. Coincidentally, Oracle just introduced its Oracle Cloud ERP product at the time and was seeking early adopters. Since Boise State had already used Oracle products and had a relationship, it made for an opportune collaboration.
Oracle gave the university incentives for being an early adopter, but the biggest benefit isn’t financial; it’s the continuously updated system the cloud provides.
Sustaining the Oracle Cloud platform requires new muscles, adopting new processes, and managing change. To address those challenges, Boise State established the Office of Continuing Improvement, which falls under the finance and administration department and maintains ERP for finance and HR. The team oversees quarterly updates and messaging to faculty and staff on important and valuable process changes.
Davis-Johnson says the effort to transition to the cloud was worth it in the long run, and he will continue to look for opportunities to move systems to the cloud, when it makes sense.
All of the universities had different reasons for moving systems to the cloud. However, the key to their successes was in understanding their organization’s comfort level in making the transition, setting a strong foundation for managing the change, and then executing on a strong project plan.
Jeff Haynes is Director - Enterprise Solutions and Services at Baker Tilly.