In higher education, some enterprise administrative vendors choose to handle their own implementations, such as Anthology, Ellucian, and Jenzabar. However, Oracle and Workday, in addition to providing implementation services for their products, also support a broad network of certified implementation partners. Thus, institutions that select Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications (Oracle Cloud) or Workday solutions must also select an implementation partner, except when Oracle or Workday assumes the responsibility. Navigating an implementation partner selection in conjunction with a software selection adds complexity but also provides critical clarity about the implementation process, which can ultimately reduce risk and set the institution up for greater success.
When selecting an Oracle Cloud or Workday implementation partner, there is a broad set of options for institutions to choose from to find the best firm to match their needs and culture, ranging from large firms with significant strategy and operational consulting practices to smaller boutique firms that focus on straightforward delivery. Oracle and Workday have different approaches to these partner ecosystems, with Workday maintaining a higher level of control over implementation partners and methodology.
Tambellini recommends that institutions consider implementation partner selection with application selection in order to fully understand the partner ecosystem and the viable partners that are best suited to their needs. Institutions also gain greater insight into how the product can be implemented for their specific institutional situation. For example, some partners only support implementation services for Oracle (Drivestream, Highstreet IT Solutions, Sierra-Cedar) or Workday (Alchemy, Avaap, Collaborative Solutions), and others offer services for both Oracle and Workday (Accenture, Deloitte, and Huron). Likewise, some partners specialize in working with specific types of institutions. For example, Accenture and Deloitte generally focus their work on R1 and large, complex institutions, and while Huron also works in this space, they also work with other types of institutions.
If your institution has specialized requirements, such as multi-institution, state system, consortium, multi-country, or academic medical center, then you will want to scope out partners that have experience in those areas. Ask the partners you are evaluating how many implementation projects they have primed and where. Understanding the target market of a services firm and its level of experience can help you down-select.
Another best practice is to make sure the selected partner has experience migrating other institutions from and to the same platforms. This practice increases the likelihood that the partner will have effective accelerators to streamline data migration. Some institutions need services above and beyond the core platform implementation. As such, they should scope out partners that also have the capacity to offer services extending beyond Oracle and Workday, including CRM, identity and access management, iPaaS, and more.
As you move closer to narrowing down implementation partners, you should ask the services firms you are considering for résumés of the consultants who are being proposed for your project to ensure they have both product and higher education expertise. All too often, consultants may be extremely knowledgeable in a vendor solution or technology, but they do not have higher education expertise—or vice versa. Not understanding the nuances of higher education can result in less-than-optimal configuration guidance. Another best practice is to reach out to peer institutions that have been through similar modernizations to solicit firsthand feedback on implementation partners and to understand their lessons learned.
As part of an implementation partner evaluation, make sure you understand each vendor’s depth and breadth of services, including their accelerators, migration experience, project planning and readiness offerings, testing, project management, change management, post-production services, and more. With the steady adoption of enterprise cloud applications, institutions have developed an increasing reliance on implementation partners after go-live. Initially, this reliance presented as elongated consulting engagements to allow institutions to transition to a more mature management of applications in house, but it has morphed into more formalized post-production application managed services. All leading Oracle Cloud and Workday implementation partners offer some form of post-production services.
Selecting an implementation partner for enterprise modernization can be a large lift and take a significant amount of time and resources. Tambellini specializes in helping institutions navigate both application selection and implementation partner services in higher education. Engaging us can not only save institutions a significant amount of time, but it can also lead to more well-informed decisions.
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