The Formation of Thesis

Dave Kieffer |

Tambellini Analyst

Top of Mind: The Formation of Thesis
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

When Unit4 was acquired in March of this year, little was said about the Student products that were left behind with Advent International, Unit4’s previous owner. What is the impact of this separation?  

First, let’s look back. As COVID-19 began to impact the industry, the Unit4 Student team (including development and support) began to separate from the Finance and HCM teams in mid-2020. At the same time, Unit4 focused energy on the development and support of go-lives instead of new sales. The Unit4 Student Management solution, sold to over 40 institutions, lacked the functionality that institutions required. While some institutions remained committed to working with Unit4, Unit4 spent considerable time and effort determining if and how existing customers could use the Student product being developed. Unit4 stopped actively selling in the US during this period, as it focused on existing customers and moved its Student development from Unit4 developers to an outsourced overseas development firm.  

As the separation has been formalized, a new company, Thesis, has taken on all the Student customers and solutions Unit4 had: SM, CAMS, QL, and EMS; therefore, Thesis serves only higher education customers. This portfolio aligns a customer view for Student systems in contrast to the broader focus across Unit4 previously. This focus could bring a distinct advantage to Thesis, as the corporate understanding and alignment to Student buyers and users in higher ed is a challenge for some other suppliers of all three technologies. Thesis will not have challenges in focusing on higher education. 

Institutions interested in Finance, HCM, and Student can either engage with Thesis and Unit4 or consider the Thesis Student solution and other third-party offerings. 

Thesis also looks to collaborate with implementation partners, bringing new experience, proficiency, and focus on implementation to improve the success rates. An implementation partner program is a significant undertaking, requiring an investment of resources by Thesis and implementation firms. Thesis will need to demonstrate success to attract quality partners. 

Thesis reports a significant investment from its ownership related to improvements in the CAMS platform, indicating the intention to maintain and enhance support for CAMS customers. CAMS customers are typically small institutions with a limited ability to change platforms.  

In our discussion with leadership at Thesis, the focus is:  

  • Get customers live and referenceable on the new Thesis SM SaaS platform 
  • Build regionalization or focus markets (US, Canada, UK) 
  • Deliver preconfigured best-practice design models to customers to speed deployment 

The launch as an independent company is a significant shift for the Thesis team. Tambellini expects it will take another 12 to 18 months before Thesis will be ready to offer the Student solution to institutions in the US. When that occurs, we expect the Thesis team to focus on partnering with institutions willing to work as early adopters of the new solution and commit to the level of process change required to be successful.

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Dave Kieffer |

Tambellini Analyst

Dave Kieffer
Dave Kieffer is responsible for directing research focused on R1, R2, and large public institutions and their strategic decisions around student, finance, and HCM systems at the 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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