Student Cloud Anxiety: Is Your Institution Impacted?

Vicki Tambellini |

Tambellini Analyst

Student Cloud Anxiety: Is Your Institution Impacted?
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Analysts at Tambellini speak with higher education CIOs every day, and some interesting conversational threads weave throughout the calls. You may even choose to call them “viral trends.” One of those trends includes regular questions about Oracle Student Cloud versus Workday Cloud and whether or not either solution is “real.”  The cloud showdown between Oracle and Workday, and who will emerge as the victor, is accelerating in 2018.  Oracle has increased its commitment to world-class student cloud solutions, and new clients are signing contracts.

Many institutions are actively planning to move core applications (including their student information systems (SIS)) to the cloud. For some, the move is urgent. For others, the planning process is underway. Anxiety is high as student cloud solutions are immature and largely unproven in the cloud.

Some Ellucian clients are considering Ellucian cloud alternatives to lessen the IT burden. Institutions continue to select Jenzabar solutions.

Unit4 is quietly delivering a student solution built on the Microsoft stack that is attracting new customers.

Campus Management Corp. is largely retaining its base, and attracting customers from competitors. The 2018 Student Report details the selections private, not-for-profit institutions, and public, two-year institutions made for Campus Management Corp. Campus Management Corp. fully embraces the Microsoft stack including Azure.

You won’t want to miss Tambellini’s “2018 Student Systems Market Trends and Leaders Report” due for publication June 29, 2018, which profiles the top selections made by institutions for student systems. The 2018 report has a new format, and is optimized to get you the right, “just-in-time” data to make key student systems decisions. Leading vendors Campus Management Corp., Ellucian, Jenzabar, Oracle, Unit4, and Workday selections are thoroughly covered in the report. Institutions may be surprised to learn that some trends changed in 2017. Contact Tambellini’s Client Services to learn more.

Nearly every conversation that analysts at The Tambellini Group have relating to finance, human capital management (HCM) and/or student applications involves some consideration for Workday.  Institutions are anxious about selecting Workday  but are compelled to consider their solutions for a myriad of reasons. Enthusiasm for Workday has especially caught on at institutions running legacy systems from Ellucian and Jenzabar, and to some extent, within the Oracle Peoplesoft base. The remainder of this blog explores trends impacting institutions choosing to move to Workday, key challenges addressed by Workday, common complaints, some regrets expressed by institutions that have selected Workday, and Tambellini recommendations for moving forward to select a vendor to provide modern finance, HCM and/or SIS.

Trends Impacting the Move to a Cloud Finance, HCM, and/or Student Solution

The current technology environment
  • There is a pervasive, growing dissatisfaction among all sizes and types of institutions with legacy SIS, Human Capital Management (HCM), and Finance solutions.
  • Many institutions are running outdated technology that requires specialized skill sets no longer considered “cool.” Finding talented IT staff is difficult enough without having to convince someone to work on code that’s twenty years old (if you can find someone at all).
  • The push to the cloud has caught on, as CIOs are being pressured to deliver higher value services with fewer resources (both people and budget).
  • Institutions are concerned about inefficient, manual, paper-based processes and bad data.
  • Students complain about the difficulty in finding resources, including registering for classes, accessing transcripts, advising, and understanding their financial aid.
Enter Workday
  • Workday promises a best of breed, Cadillac cloud finance and HCM solution that was built for commercial businesses and optimized for unique higher education use cases, plus a brand new, multi-tenant SIS cloud solution.
  • Workday has a simple, intuitive, visually pleasing user interface (and other solution providers struggle to compete with it). Finance, HCM and SIS implementations are time-consuming, costly, and require heroic feats of change Institutions want their end users to love the new solution experience, and they think Workday will make that happen.
  • Workday can scale. Are you at a tiny institution or one of the largest Research I institutions? No problem. Workday’s solution works for all sizes.
  • Workday has fostered a brand cachet with which people want to be associated.
  • Workday reduces the number of applications you need to run (within HCM in particular).

Example Key Challenges Addressed by Workday

  • Workday is designed and developed from the ground up to support mobile, social, data analytics, and reporting, which are all part of the core finance, HCM and student solutions. Workday provides real-time access for ad hoc query and reporting with the ability to drill, pivot, and visualize data points. Workday’s integrated analytics addresses the issue of the bolt-on reporting solutions and integration between disparate data.
  • Workday provides numerous integration options in addition to providing web services for all Workday objects. Most Workday customers utilize the Workday-provided reporting and integration tools (Workday Report Writer, Workday EIB, Workday Studio). Some use third-party integration tools, if they have already heavily invested in that technology. Other customers use a combination of Workday and third-party tools.
  • Workday acquired big data analytics company Platfora, which provides tools to facilitate the link of unstructured data to non-relational data. Schools with a data warehouse can push and pull data between Workday and the warehouse.
  • Workday HCM includes human resources management, benefits, talent management, recruiting, and time and absence management functionality that can address challenges with organizational alignment and manual processes for recruiting, onboarding, and managing human resources.
  • Workday Student provides integrated support for Continuing Education and Workforce Development programs within a single system of record.

The first institution to go live with Workday Student is Indian River State College. This milestone is being met in 2018.

See the CIO of Indian River State College discuss why they chose Workday here:

Some Common Complaints Heard by Tambellini Analysts

  • “Workday is too expensive.”
  • “Workday is too complex.”
  • “Workday places too much risk on the institution in their contracts.”

Workday Regrets

Tambellini has recently started hearing institutions voice concerns about choosing Workday. Here are two of the concerns most often reported by institutions:

  1. “We chose the wrong implementation partner.” Tambellini has heard great implementation stories, and some stories with significant lessons learned. If you are considering Workday, make sure you thoroughly vet the partner proposal and Statement of Work.
  2. “We shouldn’t have signed for Workday Student, or we should have waited.” This concern is new. Some institutions’ expectations have not matched the roll-out of Workday Student.

Tambellini Recommendations if You Are Considering a New Student Solution (Including Workday)

  • Establish a budget before you consider vendors.
  • Establish goals and priorities for administrative systems.
  • Gain leadership alignment early on definitive next steps for the institution’s technology strategy.
  • Start an executive steering committee representing key functional areas of the institution.
  • Consider your vendor options carefully, including your institution’s appetite for paying Workday’s ongoing fees.
  • Identify operational culture and process issues that must be addressed for a successful IT implementation and establish a plan to resolve these issues.
  • Develop a clear set of system requirements for all three phases of an implementation.
  • Issue an RFI/RFP to your potential vendors.
  • Develop an approach for implementation (phased or big bang).
  • Develop a change management strategy.
  • Maintain strong systems and process governance throughout all phases.

Are you considering replacing your SIS, HCM, or finance solution and need advice? Tambellini helps institutions of all types and sizes understand the higher education technology market and the best fit options they may want to evaluate. Tambellini is a small, woman-owned business and has served higher education exclusively since 2001. Our analysts work with institutions on data-driven market trends (what your peers doing and why), covering every major strategic IT decision faced by institutions today. Tambellini can support you with technology selection and evaluation, vendor negotiations, and CISO advisory services. Members can contact Alex Freeman to schedule time with him or another Tambellini analyst to discuss your technology advisory needs. If you are not a member and would like to learn more about our services, check out or contact Client Services.

©Copyright 2018, The Tambellini Group. All Rights Reserved.

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Vicki Tambellini |

Tambellini Analyst

Vicki Tambellini
Vicki Tambellini, President and CEO for The Tambellini Group, has more than 30 years of experience and is an award-winning software company executive, author, blogger, consultant, guest-speaker, and entrepreneur. She has received numerous awards and honors from companies including PeopleSoft, Oracle, and NCR. She has been a guest speaker at SACUBO, the Oracle HEUG, ELearning! Summit Events, Smart Woman’s Network, Richmond Venture Forum, and numerous private venues. Ms. Tambellini founded The Tambellini Group in 2001.

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