With the publication of Tambellini’s 2020 Financial Management and Human Capital Management Systems US Higher Education Market Share, Trends, and Leaders Report, many institutions can benefit from the in-depth view of the finance and HCM technology selections across the higher education landscape. However, public universities can draw specific insights from the report’s information and help guide their technology strategies moving forward.
One of the more interesting highlights is a measurable drop in selections at larger public institutions in 2019 and led to some analysis regarding the reasons and the future.
From 2015–2018, there was a surge of early adopters/innovators to new cloud products, including student. These early implementations encountered project restarts and delays while functionality matured and implementation practices aligned to the new technology, raising caution in the market. Most of those implementations have now been completed successfully, signaling a maturity in the ability to execute from platform and implementation partner vendors.
Since the entrance of early cloud products, functionality has increased, implementations have become more predictable, and student products have matured. This increase in functionality has given larger institutions the confidence to begin evaluating their finance, HCM, and student technology, and the market was poised for a rebound in early 2020, with many large institution selection processes starting up.
While COVID-19 has had a significant impact on operations, budgets, and project timelines, the strategic need for new technology is ever-present. There is recognition that student needs and staffing levels are top of mind now. Still, there is also great energy around the need to modernize both business processes and technology strategies to increase agility and efficiency of core processes. This crisis has increased focus on institutions’ ability to quickly pivot—and cloud platforms provide a more effective infrastructure for those quick pivots.
For institutions contemplating beginning selection or already in the selection process, there is sensitivity to the current situation on campus. Not only are leaders working incredibly hard to keep their campuses functioning in this environment, but they are also aware that this is a difficult time to make significant financial requests against the backdrop of financial uncertainty, furloughs, and enrollment concerns. However, institutions that are preparing have a strategic foundation behind their efforts and seem likely to continue after a small delay.
For larger institutions that are underway with their deployments, it is generally wasteful to suspend or delay a planned project, unless specifically required. Most are continuing or near their pre-COVID schedules. Several have reported increased efficiency in their projects with teams working remotely. Many of these activities are enhanced by the focus that team members get by being out of the office environment but in constant contact with their teams.
Through our discussions with institutions and their leaders, we are seeing activity in the market that points to continued selection activity in public institutions but note that some may delay some into 2021. Most leaders expect the significant uncertainty in financial, enrollment, and operational environments to become clearer in the next 3–4 months and expect to be able to reset their plans accordingly. Through all the human, economic, and political turmoil this year, it is impressive to see the continued focus on modernizing higher education through the adoption of cloud-based platforms that provide great user experience and business agility.
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