Tambellini Finance Systems StarChart Delivered: The Definitive Guide for Institutions Seeking Their Best-Fit Technology Solutions

Principal Analyst

Top of Mind: Tambellini Finance Systems StarChart Delivered
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Competitive and economic strains facing higher education stretch across every function and department in the institution. Finance teams, however, are often the last to modernize their technology since CFOs are traditionally conservative in their spending in support of their own department. Given the current circumstances, finance leaders must be creative in how they streamline processes and increase the agility of finance, procurement, grants management, and travel and expense processes to stay competitive and reduce administrative costs.

As institutions consider how and when to modernize their aging administrative finance systems, it is more important than ever to have the best information available about vendors and products. There are significant differences among financial systems. Especially for larger institutions, there is a significant functionality and innovation gap between financial systems (and their associated platforms). How much does your institution need the latest finance innovations in AI, cross-vendor integration, and process simplification to stay relevant?

The remainder of the decade will show how critical finance functionality is to institutions. Historically HCM and finance were secondary selections to student solutions. Still, institutions are increasingly choosing to modernize HR and finance functions as they wait for broader maturity in the student cloud market, resulting in a split platform—at least for now. With 20 percent of the higher ed market having chosen a SaaS-architected finance or HCM solution over the last decade, much of the remaining market is likely to choose a solution in the coming five years as investment in legacy applications wane and support costs increase.

It can be challenging to figure out where to begin vetting these solutions—which is why our team of expert research analysts has created the first publicly available preview of the Tambellini StarChart™: 2023 Platform Finance Systems.

As noted in our blog and webinar introducing the new StarChart series, each one of these proprietary visualization tools is designed to help higher education leaders save time by assisting them in narrowing down the myriad of potential technology solutions to ones that are most closely aligned with their institution’s unique needs, priorities, and resources. 

To help you make the most of the valuable data and analysis in the Finance Systems StarChart, here’s an overview of the methodology and research behind this groundbreaking resource.  

Selection Criteria for Inclusion in the Finance Systems StarChart 

The systems included in the 2023 Finance Systems StarChart had to meet two criteria:  

  • Vendors are actively selling the systems in the North American market in 2023.
  • At least one North American institution selected the system in the last 12 months.

There are six systems from five vendors that met the standards listed above, including two systems from Ellucian:

Essential Factors in Evaluation

We prioritized two essential factors for institutions when considering potential solutions: usability and innovation. This was based on our team’s collective expertise and more than 20 years of proprietary research and data covering all types of higher education technology.

Usability measures the functional breadth of a solution and how easy it is to use, while innovation measures the degree to which a solution addresses unique challenges and requirements with novel and/or advanced capabilities for sustained innovation at scale.  

We then applied a consistent methodology and algorithm that provides a standard measurement for both factors based on more than a dozen key data points—including user satisfaction survey results from a cross-section of stakeholders such as CIOs, CFOs, provosts, and front-line system users; complexity and cost of implementation and maintenance; availability of integrations; vendor profiles; security; and more. 

Proprietary Weighting Based on Market Differentiators

To ensure that each measure has a corresponding proportional influence on the final overall score, we added proprietary weighting based on criteria deemed most important to the current year’s market. For instance, on the innovation axis, data related to generative AI capabilities carried more influence this year because of its burgeoning impact on many facets of finance systems.    

Placement on StarChart

The StarChart isn’t designed to provide overall rankings because there are no “right” or “wrong” positions on either the innovation or usability axis. There isn’t one finance system that is “the best.”

For instance, a small private four-year college may not need a system with complex functionality to serve its community. At the same time, a large public research university may place more value on a system that offers sophisticated extensibility, AI, and integrations to link with its existing solutions.  

What the StarChart does provide, however, is an initial guide to help institutions narrow down their viable system options based on the factors they deem most important for their specific needs.  

The StarChart should not be the only resource an institution uses to make a final financial system selection decision. It offers a point of navigation to help make sense of the higher education technology market. Choosing the best-fit system for your institution will require a more in-depth, personalized assessment of how the available options will impact your people, processes, and current infrastructure. 

Reach out to a Tambellini analyst to learn how to best leverage the Tambellini StarChart: 2023 Platform Finance Systems for your institution’s specific circumstances, resources, and goals.  

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Principal Analyst
Dave Kieffer spearheads research focused on finance, and HCM applications, data management and other critical higher education technologies at Tambellini Group. He brings more than 30 years of creating, implementing, and managing enterprise-class applications in higher education. His experience includes all levels of applications development and management in higher education. Among other things, he has been responsible for ERP implementations, mobile, and web development, application architecture and integration technologies.

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