Streamlining the Financial and Management Reporting Systems for Higher Education Institutions

Often times, one of the duties of the Vice President of Finance for a higher education institution is to lead in its efforts in the streamlining of its financial and related management reporting systems, as well as assist in the evaluation of academic and administrative technology planning. This duty and the encompassing project related thereto will be a major undertaking. It will most likely require the formation of a special project team consisting of various departmental leaders at the institution who will provide much input before a final recommendation is made to implement a change to the financial and related management reporting systems.

A project report containing a timetable for implementation with due dates of completion for each phase of the project undertaking should be formally developed and approved, most likely by the President and Board of Trustees of the college or university. Because of the time and effort required for this undertaking, including a concerted effort and embracement by the Team Members required for a successful implementation, this project will most likely be completed over a number of months.

The following information will assist you in your endeavor to streamline the financial and related management reporting systems at your college or university. This information covers the various capabilities of software/IT solution based systems and products that have been developed and available through solution providers. Much of this information and the items noted should be considered in identifying appropriate software/IT solution providers who will assist you in meeting and serving the needs of the academic and administrative offices of the college or university.

In presenting this information, I am not advocating any specific software/IT solution provider or what route for a revitalized financial and management reporting system for a college or university for their specific undertaking. But, as more research and investigation is performed as a Team effort, I am sure you will be able to identify a very good provider, with a great history, with great platforms of products and resources, and someone who is very much up-to-date on meeting the needs and demands for your institution; not only today, but for years to come in assisting you in your desire to continue to grow and prosper.

The key steps and processes noted in this article will provide you with information for identifying the “types of features, resources and capabilities” you will want to consider in deciding what types of changes may be needed in order for you to streamline the financial and related management reporting systems at your institution. The following is the information for your consideration.

Identify Leading Software/IT Solution Providers

A potential list of candidates of leading providers of software, strategies, and services for higher education institutions will need to be compiled. You should identify providers that have been providing these services over an extended time period, with a proven record of providing solutions that have given colleges and universities the power to meet all of their academic and administrative needs.

You will identify software/IT solution providers that have developed and continue to improve and enhance their software, and combined with their experienced professionals, have a successful record of implementation, cost-effective operation, with a record of setting a clear path to future growth for colleges and universities across the nation.

Ideally, identifying providers who maintain a singular focus on higher education may give them a unique perspective on the industry, allowing them to plan for changes and ensuring their clients have the technology, knowledge, and strategies to be leaders.

The Software/IT Solution Providers Must Have Exceptional People

At every level of the company and across each department – from product development, to support, to consulting, to services, to their leadership team – the software/IT solution provider you choose to work with must have people in their organization who are truly committed to partnering with their clients to maximize their success.

Vibrant Client Community

You should identify software/IT solution providers who have a strong active client list. Their client list should represent a community that is one of the most active and engaged in the industry, demonstrating consistently high levels of customer involvement and satisfaction year after year. You will want to make sure they utilize customer advisory boards to help shape the future of their products and services.

Broad and Deep Product Portfolio

The software/IT solution providers you identify should have a family of integrated, proven, and innovative products that caters to the needs of academic and administrative offices across the entire campus and throughout the student lifecycle.

Strong Financial Position

The software/IT solution providers you identify should be on solid financial footing and have a strong balance sheet. They must take a long-term perspective, valuing customer satisfaction and enduring client relationships. You should make a determination, if it makes any difference to you, if the software/IT solution provider you select is a strong privately held company or a publicly held company. Something you will want to consider is that many publicly held companies chase quarterly earnings targets and change ownership frequently, and when this occurs there can be problems with continuity of services; whereas a long-term strong privately held company will most often continue to remain a stable partner with their clients and they can be relied upon to remain committed to their client’s best interests.

Cost of Ownership

In your search for the ideal software/IT solution provider, you should identify organizations that provide the most advanced, innovative, award-winning solutions for higher education, delivering exceptional value with the best total cost to benefit of ownership to the college or university.

Solution Suites

You should research, review and consider the following types of solution suites to have in place at your institution in your pursuit to streamline the financial and management reporting systems of the college or university.

 

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems: You will want to have in place robust ERP systems that are built to meet the unique needs of your institution.
  • Continuing Education (CE) and Workforce Development (WD): You will want to consider having in place CE and WD systems to enhance business process efficiencies and institutional growth.
  • Recruitment: You will want to have in place a fully operational Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform designed to effectively manage recruitment.
  • Retention: Ideally, having a comprehensive retention solution with predictive modeling and a comprehensive alert system to maximize retention rates and facilitate intervention would be a useful tool and feature to have in use in the management reporting system at the college or university.
  • Advancement: You will want a solution to foster a vibrant community of supporters and champions for both major gifts and annual donations that the college or university depends on.
  • Learning Management System (LMS): You will want an integrated LMS to facilitate a collaborative learning environment.
  • Analytics: You will desire to have institutional intelligence solutions to help the institution measure, track, and report on key performance indicators to optimize performance.
  • User Experience: You will need powerful communication platforms and technologies including a Portal, Mobile, and Social offerings for the college or university.
  • Managed Services: You will want to consider the use of managed services to help the institution when you would need it the most – both on and off campus.