Get all campuses on the same page—or at least the same student information system

Best practice from the University Systems Forum

Effective shared services depends on campuses within a system following similar business processes, such processing payroll event or onboarding new employees. Unfortunately, most campuses and even different units within campuses fail to follow the same business processes. In addition, individual campuses often use unique technology platforms such as student information systems and human capital management systems. These technology differences further complicate how units perform business processes and slow the adoption of shared services.

The variability in technology platforms among system campuses typically emerges as a result of unique campus needs, the lack of a requirement to standardize, and the lack of supervision over these decisions. To overcome this variability, systems typically must wait for—and capitalize on—specific opportunity windows to help their campuses adopt the same technology platform such as student information systems, human capital management systems, and financial management systems.

The University of Wisconsin System found an opportunity to create a test case for a common student information system on one of its campuses. The Stevens Point campus was the last of the campuses to update its student information system, so the system offered to pay for the upgrade if the campus agreed to hold the customizations to a limit of 20 to 30.

One system aims to create a proof-of-concept with one campus's standardization

When the implementation team at Stevens Point identifies a customization need, they first try to redesign business processes to avoid the customization and then, if necessary, purchase an external application that performs the custom function. As of this writing, the Stevens Point experiment has stayed below the twenty to thirty customization goal. At the conclusion of the project, the system office hopes that Stevens Point will demonstrate to the other campuses that a standard, “out-of-the-box” platform can meet their needs.

Also see: Cross-train your way to labor savings

University Systems Forum members: Learn more best practices for overcoming barriers to shared services


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