Student Success, Continuing the Transformation Journey

Tambellini Author

Top of Mind: Student Success, Continuing the Transformation Journey
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Co-Columnist: Dave Kieffer, Vice President, Research, Large Enterprise Systems, The Tambellini Group

Increased and Changing External Pressures

Pressures outside an institution’s control—beyond accreditation, compliance, and regulation—continue to expand. Diversification and the shrinking size of student populations, and student expectations for a personalized educational experience (when, where, and how they want to experience learning) are growing pressures on every institution. Traditional higher education institutions are often not prepared for sustained one-to-one experiences for every student.

Fortunately, educational technology vendors are stepping in to respond to the increased pressures.

  • Student Success vendors are expanding from point solutions addressing advising, recruiting, academic planning, etc. to solutions across the life cycle of the student experience.
  • Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) vendors are moving from independent solutions for various areas to enterprise CRM platforms that can be leveraged across the organization and the constituent lifecycle.
  • Learning Management System (LMS) vendors are expanding beyond digitizing the classroom experience and engagement to streamlining faculty workstreams and embedding analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to transform the learning experience and to drive proactive, personalized student engagement.
  • Student System Vendors, LMS, CRM, and Student Success vendors are providing cloud-enabled solutions today that are focused on students, usability, ongoing innovation, streamlined processes, frictionless experiences, and mobile access with any device.

Organizational Alignment

Student success strategies, planning, and day-to-day operations should be aligned across the organization. The strategic planning approach must clearly define student success as a priority, along with how success will be measured, and those measurements must be tracked semester to semester. The integrated CIO, as EDUCAUSE identified in the top 10 issues, should be creating and advancing an integrated information technology team that understands the business of teaching, learning, and higher education administration that technology is enabling. The technology team must integrate and partner with constituents across the community to drive effective use of technology.

Tambellini recommends the following practices to achieve organizational alignment.

  • Organizational change management at all levels is needed and should be an ongoing process as higher education continues to evolve at a faster pace than historically. Prosci’s ADKAR methodology has been growing in use in institutions and with educational technology providers of change management services.
  • A standardized approach must be taken in new initiatives including discovery and design efforts aligned to outcomes and expectations, inclusive of the change management.
  • For IT engagement and integration, IT staff must understand the operations of the areas they support and work to enable a frictionless experience.
  • Goals must be defined and aligned for departments and individuals in terms of student success enablement. Measure progress, celebrate success, and continually coach.

Data, Analytics, and Empowering Technology to Automate Operations

Institutions should evaluate their approach to data management, to effectively capture the information necessary to inform actions. This includes evaluating the data governance, committee structure, and operational data management to ensure the outcomes of these activities create rich data for analytics and to drive automation. Educational technology vendors are including technology solutions for analytics; however, the foundation requires quality institutional data to inform and drive real transformation.

Many organizations are considering or in the process of moving to their next-generation enterprise systems, from the student, finance, and human resource solutions to the CRM, advancement, and others. This is the time to align the data to be useful in driving actions and informing strategic decisions, while also considering longer-term machine learning and artificial intelligence implications as well. Consider the following as you drive increased quality of data for the next transformation of student learning.

  • Establish strong institutional data governance to address external, internal, and most importantly the actions to support student success.
  • Simplify operational data management to align the data to data governance objectives and to eliminate redundancy and inefficiencies.
  • Ensure privacy and ethics are at the forefront of this work to ensure student data is protected for all users.
  • Take road trips along the journey to sustain the effort needed. This work likely requires stages to go from the historical to the desired state.

How aligned is your institution to support the current and future pressures to drive student success continually? Is student success defined and measured? If not, can it be?


  1. Institutions must consider internal and external pressures as well as the constituent expectations to continue the student success journey.
  2. The one constant, continual change, requires continual adaptation.
  3. These are institutional project efforts, enabled by technology; there are no technology projects.
  4. The institution must define and measure its specific goals related to student success and measure initiatives against their outcomes.

Do you need assistance with student success solutions or other technology decisions on your institution’s radar? Contact Client Services or call 1-800-414-3405.

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Tambellini Author
Karen Boudreau-Shea is vice president of Advisory Services for Tambellini Group. She is a business, operations, and information technology executive with over 30 years of experience. Karen focuses on all areas impacting student success, including researching ERP vendors, LMS vendors, and newly identified student success vendors with a suite of offerings across the student life cycle.

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