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Embracing a Culture of Change in Higher Education

You’ve decided to update your HR and Finance systems to catch up with the 21st century. You are excited for this change, but not everyone at your institution is thrilled. Why?

You and your team carry the burden of manual processes and workarounds due to the outdated legacy systems you’ve been using for decades. Your teams are strained by multiple reporting requests every day, and your many disparate systems simply can’t keep up with the increasing demand for insight into your data. You live with this reality every day, but you’re not the only systems stakeholder in your institution. Not everyone feels the pain of this problem, which is why it can be so hard to get everyone to accept and adopt the change.  

 Let’s explore some actions you can take to help your institution embrace a culture of change.

Ensure That All Stakeholders Are Aligned & Ready to Let Go of the Past

It’s common for an institution to have processes that have been around for so long that no one can remember when or why they were implemented in the first place. You’ve heard it before: “It’s just always been this way.” Cloud technologies can open the door to a whole new world of insight but getting there requires that institutions let go of the familiar, yet inefficient, ways of the past. 

Not only are the legacy systems at higher education institutions often clunky and outdated, but also the many stakeholders and decision-makers are often misaligned. It can be hard to reach a decision when the people in the room have such varied interests. The president, provosts, deans, department heads, faculty, students, financial aid office, alumni, development, and IT departments are all stakeholders that will be impacted by new cloud technologies on campus. Think about this deployment from each of their perspectives, and ensure that the right people are invited to participate throughout the project. Universities are often storied institutions with layers of history and community influence that all intertwine in the decision-making process.

Have a Clear Vision & Plan Ahead

Collaborative works alongside customers every day taking on cloud deployments, and the most successful ones are those that plan ahead. That means getting your various stakeholders aligned with common goals, from the top leaders to entry-level employees. It is crucial to ensure that the entire project team understands the goals for the deployment and expected outcomes, so that when the team is in the thick of testing hundreds of scenarios, they remember what this is all leading up to!

Planning ahead also means adopting digital tools that will best enable your team to manage the project. The project team will depend on tools that will enable them to get their jobs done efficiently and effectively. After all, the project team members that will be running through hundreds of test scenarios need a way to track their progress and share issues with their deployment partners.

Most importantly, planning ahead means truly thinking about the purpose of the deployment and why you are doing this in the first place. Ask yourself what problems you’re looking to solve, and how the new system will impact the day-to-day lives of your staff and students. The destination will make the journey worth it!

Pick the Right Partner & Become an Advocate for Standardization

The best way to create a positive culture around this huge change is picking the right deployment partner. Your partner is there to walk you through your HR and Finance transformation journey. You need to trust your partner and rely on their expertise and guidance. Your team will take ownership of your deployment, but your partner should be able to help you develop innovative solutions for your business requirements.

Your deployment partner should also be providing substantial assistance in the areas of program and project management, solution architecture, integrations, reporting, data management and conversion, advisory services, and of course, change management.

Once you have the right partner, you will also need to become an advocate for standardization across the board. When you are in the room, raise your hand and ask what the best practices are for any given process. Your deployment partner should be able to provide insight into what other institutions have done to accommodate your more complex requirements. It may feel like the various departments at your institution are wildly unique, but if your deployment partner is guiding you with best practices, standardization is possible.

At Collaborative Solutions, we advise against a “lift and shift” mentality when it comes to cloud deployments, and highly encourage a thorough change management program to increase post-deployment success. It’s critical if you want to see a return on your investment that you take the time to align key stakeholders, mitigate risks with the right deployment partner, and embrace a culture of change.  

For more information on embracing change in higher education, listen to this episode of Washington University – St. Louis’ podcast, MyDay, where Matt Seeberg, the Engagement Manager on our in-flight deployment with WashU, discusses what it looks like to deploy successfully on campus.

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