Live from #Alliance16: A smart strategy includes confidence in your technology

alliance 2016

While I’m here at HEUG Alliance16, I’m thinking back to some of my best learning experiences in 2015, which came from the CIOs and senior IT leaders of our customers who use Oracle. When I look at the complexities of those institutions and the systems they operate, I am reminded how impressive it is that our leaders consistently create a clear path for institutional success – even amidst the constantly evolving challenges in higher education.

But unsurprisingly, it’s less about technology itself and more about strategy. The ability to envision a seamless student experience or see day-to-day operations through the eyes of a student or faculty member in an effort to improve the overall experience is what is really important.

Start with strategy

One of my many learning experiences came from Cal Poly Pomona and a group of California State University institutions sitting around a table with our Vice President of Development, Bill Filion. The topic they tackled was the many redundant technologies found on campuses.

What do they do when their CRMs, their ERPs and their ECM solutions already have workflows? How do they decide which system to build their workflow management in?

That’s not a technology question. It’s a strategy question.

Our VP showed his true dedication to strategy with his answer. While workflow is a major part of our solution – something we would define as a huge differentiator – Filion said that it isn’t always the answer. He instead asked the questions he would ask in evaluating the same question at Hyland.

Ask the right questions

For example, does everyone who needs access to the workflow have access to the CRM? Is the workflow easy to configure in the ERP? Has the workflow already been developed? Will it change frequently?

Once you answer these types of questions, Filion explained, the best place to develop the workflow becomes more obvious.

For example, Gettysburg College faced new state regulations in human resources. While it took months for legislation to be formulated and finalized, the regulations were released in November with an “immediate compliance deadline.”

The first questions that Gettysburg asked were strategic. What do we need to do to be compliant? Where does the data live? What should this process look like and who must be involved?

I never heard the question “Is there technology out there to support this?” I heard strategy and business process questions first. By taking this approach, they mapped out and implemented a solution in a very short timeframe – leveraging the institution’s PeopleSoft system of record and updating it as needed while using the power of electronic forms and workflow to quickly become compliant.

Dartmouth College was next to describe its approach to strategy and focused the discussion around the Labor Verification Process for the Office of Sponsored Projects, where the institution leverages Oracle BI and OnBase.

I don’t have to tell anyone who has managed a grant how arduous the process of managing all the paperwork and compliance can be. By strategically leveraging those two systems, they accomplished an astounding ROI – moving their verification from 40 percent of projects in 6 months to 100 percent in 5 weeks.

Dartmouth also eliminated the expense of three people who did nothing but copy, collate and distribute reports for two solid weeks. Now those people focus on completing higher-value tasks. But even more important, the new process that protects the institution from risk is much simpler.

So now I’m here at HEUG Alliance 2016, giving me the opportunity for another valuable learning experience. Ben Quillian, CSU Northridge associate VP of Information Technology, and Peter Flores, Sonoma State University deputy CIO, will be presenting strategies they have created on their PeopleSoft campuses. Together, they will discuss business processes that demand change to improve the student experience and how they keep their organizations agile and ready for change.

Now focus on technology

All that starts with strategy, but it also relies on confidence in technology. So make sure you do your homework. Talk to your peers here at the show or call them when you get back to campus. Find out what technology is working for them. And why.

Then find out what technology they’ve invested in that hasn’t worked out for them. That’s the value of networking – you can avoid the same pitfalls. And you’ll have confidence in the technology you choose.

Lucky for me, I can talk to people while I’m here. And I can attend these presentations in person. But don’t worry. If you can’t make it, just drop me an email and I’ll pass along the details or the recordings.

I hope to see you in Seattle!

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more than 20 years of experience working to map proven solutions to higher education challenges, Laurel implemented ERP solutions at Dickinson College and University of Oregon Foundation before joining the sales and marketing team at Datatel, now Ellucian, Inc. Laurel offers a deep understanding of higher education, dedication to transparency and a fondness for candid conversations about the solutions Hyland develops and delivers to the market. You may reach her at Laurel.Stiller at

Laurel Stiller

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more... read more about: Laurel Stiller