- Tambellini Analyst
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Can Modern Cloud-Based Finance, HCM/Payroll, and Student Solutions Simplify the Higher Education Administrative Software Application Ecosystem?

The Tambellini Group has worked with a number of higher education institutions of all types and sizes to help assess whether the institution should upgrade or replace their current Finance, HCM/Payroll, and/or SIS* solutions. As a result, Tambellini has published an “Upgrade or Replace” series of reports that are available to members. While there are many reasons that institutions evaluate a Finance, HCM/Payroll and/or SIS system replacement, one of the key factors is simplification of the application ecosystem. As technology has evolved, legacy applications have struggled to keep pace with new solutions.

Vendor acquisitions and mergers of solutions have created disjointed application ecosystems that lack integration and common user interfaces. Institutions have turned to third-party solutions to address gaps in the legacy Finance, HCM/Payroll, and SIS solutions. It is common for an institution to have well over 100 third-party solutions to augment Finance, HCM/Payroll and SIS functionality. When evaluating modern cloud Finance, HCM/Payroll, and Student solutions, one of the first things institutions want to know, and an important aspect of the cost justification process, is “how many third-party solutions can be eliminated?”

The answer is complicated. Sometimes the answer depends on what third-party solutions departments within the institution are willing to give up. In some areas where the third-party solutions are not strong, departments are very open to a replacement solution. However, in areas that have very strong third-party solutions, such as in recruiting and admissions, departments tend to show resistance to a replacement solution. The general rule of thumb is that institutions can expect to have the opportunity to eliminate about one-third of the third-party applications. This assumes that the institution is willing to replace third-party functionality with the vended cloud solution functionality. As cloud Finance, HCM/Payroll, and Student solutions reach maturity, this rule of thumb is projected to increase to one-half.

Third-party solutions areas that are typically integrated into modern cloud solutions include:

  • Student: recruiting and admissions, electronic transcripts, curriculum management, financial aid (emerging), tuition management, student financials, degree audit/student advising, mobile, social, reporting and analytics, content management, faculty tracking, continuing education and workforce development, maintenance management, and workflow.
  • Human Resources/Payroll: organization management, compensation management, employee management, benefits, talent management, performance management, succession planning, employee recruiting, time tracking, payroll, mobile, social, reporting and analytics, and workflow.
  • Financial Management: mobile, social, reporting and analytics, content management, check writing, travel and expense, procurement, budget administration, facility/asset management, and workflow.
    Vendor Dependent: CRM, event management, mass communication, advancement, athletic recruiting, classroom scheduling, cashiering, treasury and cash management, endowment management, and grants management.

Third-party solution areas that are not typically included in modern cloud solutions include:

  • Student: document imaging/management, Common/Coalition Apps, health services, housing, dining, career services, course evaluations, student conduct, student engagement, surveying, international study abroad programs, parking, scheduling of equipment and assets, fundraising, emergency notification, and student portfolio (future).
  • Human Resources: document imaging/management, facilities work orders.
  • Financial Management: document imaging/management, tuition payments, electronic payments.

Modern cloud solutions are evolving. While human resources and financial management cloud products are being adopted by institutions that Tambellini considers “fast followers”-institutions that are selecting and implementing modern cloud solutions for student management are among early adopters. For example, core functionality of Workday Student and Unit4 Student Management was released in the fall of 2016, with the release of multiple product enhancements each quarter. The first institutions will go live on Workday Student and Unit4 Student Management in 2018.

The Oracle ERP Cloud (Finance) and Oracle HCM Cloud are available, and Oracle has achieved referenceibility for these solutions in higher education. Several modules of the Oracle Student Cloud are available, with a complete solution launch anticipated within the next year to eighteen months. The Tambellini Group will be covering the topic of modern, cloud ERP and Student in greater detail in two upcoming reports: the 2018 Financial Management and Human Capital Management Market Trends Report which is scheduled for March 2018, and Tambellini’s tenth annual 2018 Student Information Systems U.S. Higher Education Market Share, Trends, and Leaders Report, which is scheduled for June 2018.

*When referring to legacy Student Information Systems, Tambellini uses the term SIS. When referring to modern cloud-based systems, Tambellini uses the term Student.

©Copyright 2018, The Tambellini Group. All Rights Reserved.
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Columnist: Mary Beth Cahill - Tambellini Analyst
As head of research for The Tambellini Group, Ms. Cahill focuses on higher education technology trends and software strategies. She has led numerous research efforts, specifically in the area of vendor ERP and Student Information System (SIS) software solutions, data and learning analytics, CRM, learning management, and social networking. Ms. Cahill is also the co-author of several published industry reports, including The Tambellini Group's "Upgrade or Replace" and "Vendor Review" series of reports.