Community and partnership — a fast-tracked approach to next-generation SIS

Community and partnership — a fast-tracked approach to next-generation SIS

COVID-19 highlighted the importance of SIS in creating a sense of community for students and staff. It also accelerated the drive for next-generation technology. With a pioneering approach that shares services and best practice from across Europe’s HE sector, Ellucian has re-imagined the onboarding experience to reduce the timescales, cost and complexity of implementation, while also delivering a customised and scalable solution.

A sense of community is key to the higher education experience, but this was seriously challenged by social distancing and COVID-19. Student Information Systems (SIS) stepped up to the plate, safeguarding personnel, delivering learning and bringing staff and students closer together through connectivity. In many cases however, the technology was also pushed to the limit, prompting HE institutions across Europe to reconsider best practice in order to remain competitive and deliver standout experiences.

As an HE and SIS specialist deeply invested in the sector, Ellucian shares this commitment to creating powerful and connected communities, and over the last 20 years has supported over 80 leading European HE institutions on this journey. These include a number of cloud-based SIS platforms delivered during the height of the pandemic for such prestigious organisations as the University of Birmingham.

While the sector is keen to adopt these solutions, they also face significant challenges. These include time, cost and all the inherent risks involved in abandoning a tried and trusted system — not least the challenge of data migration. Understandably, many have an uncomfortable feeling of stepping into a time-draining unknown.

Except — and here’s a critical point — it’s not really an ‘unknown’. Having been so deeply embedded in the sector over an extended period, Ellucian has built up a huge fund of knowledge and insight about the challenges faced by institutions across Europe. Each one has valuable learnings to share certainly. More importantly, the challenges they’re facing are common across the sector. This means that the approaches and solutions they’re deploying can also be shared to create a cost-effective shortcut to best practice and implementation.

As an organisation committed to supporting the HE sector in Europe, this became a focus for Ellucian during COVID-19: finding a way to make class-leading cloud-based solutions more accessible and affordable for everyone’s benefit.

The result of thinking outside the box is literally an ‘out of the box’ solution customisable to individual needs, reducing complexity and cost while accelerating implementation to as little as 12 months, bringing all the benefits of a modern SIS system without the associated pain.

Embracing the cloud community

Proven in some 700 HE applications globally, Ellucian’s cloud-based solutions give institutions the data they need to understand and engage better with their students and staff. This can be translated into powerful benefits, not least dissolving campus silos, optimising resources and creating a richer community for all. Built on Amazon’s world-class Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, and benefitting from regular third-party compliance audits, system security is also strengthened, minimising the risk of disruption or catastrophic loss of records. Similarly, system uptime is improved, helping enhance the experience of all users, and especially for students. They expect ease, availability and innovation, all of which are seamlessly achieved with Ellucian’s cloud-based platform.

While this fast-tracked solution is based on class-leading technology, it’s driven by two key words: partnership and community.

A powerful community of partners

At the heart of Ellucian’s offer is a standard, off-the-shelf deployment which can be customised with a choice of over 140 capabilities, each comprising a range of best practice business processes that meet the identified needs of European institutions, together with the necessary technology and software services.

These capabilities are based on the UCISA Capability Model and include everything from student enrolment, assessment and graduation through to admissions and curriculum management. The idea is simple. HE institutions select functions and processes which align with their strategy, knowing that they can quickly and cost-effectively add value to their business and students. While the package has a fixed price to include a selection of these capabilities, others can be added at any stage including post-implementation, so the solution is fully scalable and future-proofed.

Critically, the SIS platform includes an ever-expanding suite of interconnected solutions and services delivered through Ellucian’s global partner community, bringing even more quality and choice. And because every capability is ready as a plug-in, a bespoke implementation can be rapidly achieved.

The power of partnership

In traditional implementations, significant resource, time and cost are dedicated to discovery and analysis. This can take months, if not years. With the new capability model, this process is foreshortened significantly. However, while it is fast-tracked, it still demands considered development and close strategic partnership.

For example, a key aspect of discovery is an Enterprise Architecture Strategy Assessment workshop. Designed to identify and prioritise the key capabilities, the workshop is facilitated by Ellucian’s consultants who guide decision-makers towards areas which will deliver the maximum business value. Quite apart from accelerating the discovery process, this allows institutions to focus on genuine change management activity, rather than on the complexities of technology implementation.

A similarly streamlined process applies to data migration. Following a short audit and non-intrusive reports to obtain volume metrics, Ellucian’s data migration specialists work with SIS system managers and data owners to establish a clear strategy and pathway. Ensuring a smooth transition, this comprehensive approach covers data quality, retention and cleansing as well as archiving, disposal and GDPR protocols. For ease and speed, the aim is to provide integrations with existing platforms wherever possible. In all cases, however, the net result is an efficient and painless migration with minimal workflow disruption — and maximum SIS benefit.

Working side by side with the key stakeholders at every stage, Ellucian plans, implements, operates and optimises technology to deliver business value — quickly, seamlessly and efficiently.

Connecting you to the wider HE community

There is no doubt that sharing experiences and benefitting from the concerns, approaches and learnings of institutions who have been — or are on — a similar journey can be a great help in building confidence, insight and an empowered sense of community. Recognising the huge value this offers, Ellucian has established a community peer-to-peer program which puts HE institutions in informal touch with each other. Though participation is optional, many European HE institutions have taken up the opportunity, maintaining their relationships well beyond post-implementation. Nobody is on this journey alone.

A solution that delivers business value

Facing increased competition and cost pressures, HE institutions are looking to engage more effectively with students, and to optimise process efficiencies. The new generation of cloud-based SIS hold the potential to meet both requirements. However, the process of customisation and implementation can be time-consuming and costly. Developed from the shared learning experiences across Europe’s HE community, the new capability model from Ellucian has been created to side-step these challenges and deliver a low cost, high impact rollout within accelerated timeframes, ensuring that the investment is focused on delivering genuine business value — not just for today, but long into the future.

To find out more about how Ellucian can accelerate cloud-based solutions and business benefit, please get in touch.

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