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Why higher education needs to invest in digital transformation

from  February 7, 2020 | 5 min read

An ERP and/or SIS upgrade project may appear intimidating, complicated, and costly, but have you considered the cost of the alternative: doing nothing? 

Upgrading or replacing your legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) and student information system (SIS) solutions can seem daunting and cost-prohibitive, especially when you’re working with limited resources, challenging competitive environments, and changing requirements. But have you taken the time to calculate the cost of doing nothing? 

All leaders need to remember that making no choice at all is a choice in and of itself. The consequences and costs are just as real as if you make a call that doesn't go your way. Digital transformation in higher education might seem like a secondary priority – but the cumulative effects of not investing are very real. And it's essential to make your decisions in full awareness of these often overlooked and hidden costs. 

The annual cost of maintaining legacy systems is often much higher than we think. Since every part of your operations relies on technology to one extent or another, working with systems that can no longer cope with demand, that create artificial barriers to smooth workflows, or which create redundancy and duplications in tasks all contribute to lost productive time and to a poorer experience – for students, staff, and faculty. The effects are felt indirectly by your students, and directly by your people as they struggle to boost student success with inadequate data, inflexible technology systems and outdated processes. 

Understand your business value

With Unit4’s Business Value Tool, we can help you identify the actual benefits of replacing your legacy ERP and SIS solutions while calculating the cost of doing nothing, in about 60 minutes. It covers every part of your operations where your tools might create circumstances leading to lost productivity, resources, and cash – from data entry to HR administration (from hire to retire) and every part of the student and faculty experience. 

We can help you understand what your institution is worth, which parts are working well, and where we can help you improve. ​With our Business Value Assessment, we provide insight into possible opportunities, potential risks, and areas that require improvement. (We can also show you some leading digital transformation examples that indicate what an institution like yours can stand to save – and even generate – in terms of both time and money through upgrading your systems.) 

Digital transformation is about more than just technology; it's about giving people back the time and energy they need to do their jobs more effectively. Upgrading or replacing your enterprise systems will help make your institution more efficient, cost-effective, and student-focused – with a huge positive impact on overall performance. 

As an illustration, we’ve helped the University of Arizona to reduce the total cost of its degrees by 15%, merely reclaiming time and energy previously lost to the vagaries of poor administrative technology via modern ERP. 

Also, your employees will be happier and more engaged at work, using systems that don't feel like a digital downgrade. When the importance of staff engagement's effects on turnover is considered, this represents a considerable advantage. A 5% turnover in staff can increase a given student's chances of failing to graduate by as much as 35%. Securing a system that manages talent well and keeps it satisfied and engaged is, therefore, something you can't afford to put off – especially with enrolment in some institution types down by as much as 20%. 

Focus on student success

We want to help you work your way, more efficiently and effectively, so you can deliver the high-quality higher education your students expect – and you can hang on to the academic talent that makes that experience possible in the first place. 

Our modern cloud solutions are purpose-built for higher education institutions like yours. They help you get more value from administrative technology with less effort, which enables you to optimise your processes, so your people can focus more on student success. ​  

They're also fully configurable and customisable to your particular institutional goals, with low and no-code tools that help you adjust parameters and working models to your needs at any time. As a result, your entire institution will be better prepared to handle future changes, whether they relate to student demographics, delivery models, fee structures, or reporting requirements. Or unexpected events like the COVID crisis which force a complete paradigm shift of your operating model. ​ 

The value of People Experience

Digital transformation can be the strategy to help your institution stay ahead of the competition by helping your people work smarter and be more engaged while adapting quickly to change, instead of having to reset their skillset or reprogram their systems. Your organisation's ability to create these circumstances is what we refer to as "People Experience." And far from being a nice-to-have or an exercise in institutional branding, we believe that in an increasingly competitive and increasingly highly scrutinised higher education market, it’s an operational necessity. 

Digital transformation – how Unit4 can help

​Our solution can help you find more time and money to improve your people experience. Setting everyone in your institution free from the obstacles and constraints that hold them back so they can deliver an exceptional student experience.  

To begin your journey to a system that supports your institution’s students and its future, get in touch. We’ll begin by helping you develop and make the business case for replacing your legacy systems with modern cloud solutions by showing precisely what your current systems cost you, what digital transformation could save you, and a precise timeline for time to value and time to ROI. Including an average of monthly savings, monthly costs (including implementation) and total benefits accrued over ten years. 

To learn more, watch our on-demand webinar now and if you’d like to start a conversation with us, click to either start talking or book a demo

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