The power of partnership in technology

I’ve been spoiled since I came to Hyland four years ago. Each year, one of my most powerful learning opportunities has been listening to customers – and that is exactly what happens every year when Hyland’s Higher Ed VOGUE (vertical OnBase group of user experts) board comes to town for its annual planning session and update.

This year, our VOGUE board includes leaders from Syracuse University, Columbia College, Harvey Mudd College, Salem State University and others. These customers represent both four-year public and four-year private institutions, as well as users of PeopleSoft campus solutions, Banner, Colleague, Jenzabar and “beginning journey to Workday” as major systems on campus (with myriad CRMs and LMSs hovering around those).

The group is also geographically diverse, representing the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast. Members have varying ranges of technology funding, and even bring differing levels of campus-wide commitment to enterprise content management (ECM) in general. While these leaders know the power and potential of ECM, they face differing levels of understanding and commitment back on campus.

Because of the great diversity of this group, when leaders across Hyland have the opportunity to interact with them, we get a realistic representation of the higher ed space. That makes us a better partner.

Partnerships require homework

Every year, I ask the board to do homework before we gather. They take these assignments very seriously. In turn, I also ask Hyland leaders to do homework. It shows we value this partnership when our management takes the time to prepare, present and engage with this group.

I ask for complete transparency between this board and the company, because without candidness and trust, we can’t improve our partnership or our product. This year everyone did their homework – and received a 4.0 GPA!

I asked the VOGUE board members to do two things:

  1. Summarize in a five-minute presentation what you have done with OnBase in the past year.
  2. Detail the most impactful business process on campus that you’ve improved using OnBase.

These assignments might be a good practice for you to do, too, around any major enterprise system on campus. It’s always good to take a high-level look at how your systems are helping you achieve your goals. Or if they’re actually an impediment.

Homework reinforces success

What’s possible in just one year? When attendees addressed my first ask above, we found out the number of projects completed ranged from six to 18 in one year!

Some performed upgrades to bring new functionality like evergreen browser support and a more appealing electronic forms interface to eliminate paper forms across campus. Others brought document management to a single office that hadn’t had it before.

We also learned about the power of white ink. In many cases, institutions made improvements to processes that are fundamental to the campus: admissions review and selection, financial aid processing, transcript review and labor verification. These processes support offices campus-wide like the Office of Sponsored Projects and the Student Navigation Center, which you should think of as one-stop shops. In other cases, people were expanding solutions beyond the basics, impacting residence life housing contracts, judicial affairs, the legal office, the President’s office and even managing real estate for institutions.

These five-minute presentations turned into 20 – 30 minutes each as members asked each other “What did you do?” and “How did you do that?”

Together we had an epiphany – higher education is its own ecosystem. It has leadership and governance (trustees, foundations, administration and faculty senate), facilities management, housing, campus police and judicial systems and thousands of business processes that cross through and around the campus.

Not just going paperless – going digital

The volumes of digital documents at these schools are impressive. One campus is on a journey to migrate from multiple ECM systems, and now has 1.6 million documents in OnBase after just three years. It’s a great example of using a single solution instead of experiencing IT system sprawl. Another campus is adding more than 40,000 documents a year into OnBase. Yet another added 20,000 documents in just one month!

As you can see, these schools are well on their way to becoming paperless. But beyond that, we were talking workflow management and electronic forms. People are working smarter. They are implementing records management solutions with document retention policies, so there’s no accumulation of digital documents that mimic the storage warehouses of documents they are trying to eliminate.

They weren’t born digital, but they are embracing the idea of digital transformation.

One institution specifically stated that for one year, it was not going to buy any new software licenses or functionality. Instead, leaders simply identified processes on campus to improve using OnBase functionality the university already owns. For example, an admissions review process that utilized 12 to 15 screens in the ERP now uses just one admissions review form. And they created it with technology they already had.

That’s smart, efficient ROI. That’s the power of digital.

Success requires partnerships

How are people doing all this? Partnership.

They are partners with their campuses. They listen to those in campus offices and suggest changes, big and small, that could be very impactful. They know that you have to be a good listener to support users. You have to know their processes almost better than they do. You have to take the time to ask questions and map out answers.

They are also partners with us – voicing their needs and concerns on behalf of higher ed. They shared feedback as Hyland leaders spoke about our plans to continue enhancements to our user experience, to our customer support, to our customer community (forums for client interaction) and to our suite of products. We need to hear this feedback to get better, so our partners can get better.

During the planning session, they cheered when Team M (Hyland’s dedicated higher ed tech support team) walked in. There were hugs and jokes about puppies – something that became a standing joke between a client and our higher ed services team during a project.

I’ll be honest. I silently cheer when the VOGUE board members push our Product Evangelists and other leaders hard on the improvements we need to make, or when they remind us we need to move fast. That’s their job. They push us to be better. They also plan webinars to share what they heard with their colleagues. That sort of knowledge sharing is what it’s all about.

Does your ECM vendor have higher ed boards that work on your behalf? If you are an OnBase customer, you do.

And to my higher ed VOGUE board, please know how lucky I am to work with you and how grateful I am for our partnership. Thank you!

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