Between stagnating enrollment numbers, increased aid, growing competition, and a challenging international environment, higher education institutions cannot afford to ignore opportunities for process improvement, better-informed decisions, and cost efficiency. Simply put, colleges and universities need to do more with less. Higher education institutions need digital transformation.
One of the largest obstacles higher education faces is in the details of how schools conduct business. Like their students, colleges and universities need to reach maturity – digital maturity, that is. Higher education institutions have not realized their potential for digital transformation, and it’s hurting them on multiple fronts.
The two most impactful areas of digital transformation are data warehouse solutions and connected planning tools. Keeping your institution’s tech stack current in these two areas has several benefits:
- Accelerating work
- Automating processes
- Reducing labor hours and administrative bloat
- Providing deeper cross-departmental insights
- Better allocating resources
- Reducing IT footprint
- Lowering security risks
Failing to modernize will only make your organization continue to hemorrhage resources in these vital areas.
A modern data system for your growing needs
Let’s start simple: there’s a reason we don’t use dial-up internet anymore. It was slow, it was unreliable, and no one liked that awful noise, so we upgraded. The same argument can be made for upgrading your institution’s current data system to a high-performance data warehouse system. The many processes run by your various departments will all run faster and more smoothly, you’ll have the capabilities for greater automation and SaaS solutions, and you won’t have to hear your staff grumble about not getting the data they need.
With the broader capabilities of a high-performance data system, you may be able to automate certain tasks, like data entry, indexing, or running reports, saving even more time and maybe even staff count. Not having to run repetitive reports or input endless data will keep your staff (especially IT) happy as well, and the time saved will help them focus on higher-value work.
The power of connection
The other essential area of focus when it comes to digital transformation for higher education institutions is connecting your various departments to centralize information and gain deeper insight to guide your decision-making processes.
Higher education institutions tend to run in silos, with departments handled separately (along with their technology). This hurts overall efficiency because the right hand never knows what the left one is doing. How can the financial aid office efficiently allocate institutional scholarships to the greatest number of students if they don’t know the department-level scholarships and the overall four-year cost of awarding? Lack of visibility leads to some students being overallocated aid, while others are under-allocated. It also creates confusion around what awarding criteria means to the future budget.
A connected planning tool gives institutional leaders top-down insight into every part of their organization, allowing them to view it as a whole and then break it down as needed, while providing the various units and functions the capabilities to do their detailed planning, modeling, and reporting. This allows for better economies of scale, better planning, better forecasting models, and better judgement across the entire campus. Taking into account all of the trends and headwinds, the ability to make more informed, agile decisions is crucial to the long-term success of any institution—but especially institutions of higher education.
The future is secure
Lastly, digital transformation addresses a concern we all share these days: security. A high-performance data warehouse will offer security services that your own IT department could never supply, and will continuously monitor its own services for weaknesses, allowing you to worry about the business of education, not hackers.
A connected planning system will offer accountability checks and transparency to ensure that opportunities for human error are kept to a minimum and are easily spotted and corrected. Credibility and reputation are far too valuable to risk.
Between security risks, holistic decision making, process efficiency and labor reduction, is your institution really performing summa cum laude with its current tech stack? If not, contact our team to learn how Spaulding Ridge can help your institution graduate to digital maturity.
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Associate Partner, Spaulding Ridge
About the Author
Curtis Gratz has 15+ years of proven success providing accounting, finance, and financial systems knowledge to solve problems. He is an Associate Partner in the Anaplan Practice at Spaulding Ridge and is adept at assessing existing processes, identifying opportunities for improvement, developing roadmaps for implementation recommendations, and helping clients realize those future state visions via value-added software and process solutions.
Curtis is a frequent speaking at various conferences and industry events with his clients. He speaks on industry trends and sharing innovation solutions. Previous speaking credits include: 2020 NACUBO Planning and Budgeting Forum, 2020 NACUBO Integrating Analytics Forum, and 2021 SACUBO Annual Conference.
Curtis earned his Bachelor of Science in Finance, Operations Management, and International Business from Indiana University.