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You Can’t Focus on the Future if You’re Stuck in the Past

In the nearly two years following Covid-19, higher education has undergone an unprecedented uptake in digital transformation. Many higher education institutions are long overdue for modernization, having used the same technology for 20 years or longer. The digital revolution is moving forward and whether willing or unwilling, higher ed leaders know they need to get onboard and adapt.

Accelerating the need for modernization are the changing expectations from students, faculty, and staff, and the heightened complexities in the business of higher education. While modernizing systems and moving to the cloud presents great opportunity, how will your institution maintain its current investments as it undergoes digital transformation?

Maintaining during modernization

As your legacy ERP reaches its end of life, the IT team will spend more time diagnosing or solving issues than innovating and adding value. Investing in an inflexible solution that no longer meets business needs becomes burdensome, and internal resources get stuck in a pattern of maintaining an aging system. Resources may also be retiring or lost due to the Great Resignation, making it challenging to find skilled staff to maintain your existing system.

For modernization projects, the internal resources needed to support the transformation are often the same technical and functional resources responsible for maintaining the existing legacy system that the new system will replace. This can present a bandwidth issue of “is there enough staff to maintain the old system while implementing and learning the new one?” It is important to think about resource availability early in your project and identify where you might need support.

The complexity of moving core business processes and the potential to cause disruption of mission-critical applications and tasks keeps CIOs up at night. There are concerns over timelines, training, or support for a new process and how teams will be able to perform their day jobs in addition to standing up the new system. IT teams stuck in a cycle of legacy system management become so mired in the past that they are unable to focus on the future. Augmenting your team with experienced resources responsible for maintaining your legacy system will allow internal teams to focus on getting the new system up and running and serve as experienced users to motivate others across the organization and drive adoption.

Leverage change management to aid in the transition

Changing systems can be a challenge for all team members, whether they are on the IT, finance, or HR teams, and at any level in the organization. If processes have not changed in 20 years, moving to a new system will require a carefully developed change management strategy to introduce the change and accelerate end-user adoption.

Change management, effective governance, and complete transparency are consistent with successful implementations. Many institutions work closely with a trusted consulting partner and engage a partner early in the process to build change capacity, communicate effectively, and develop the training needed to transform. Leveraging change management strategies will enable your IT team to work on the transition, help your people prepare for change, foster shared commitment, and teach others to be advocates for change.

Higher education is at an exciting crossroads of innovation and modernization, and with a need to keep business operations running smoothly during transformation. Institutions need to be prepared to assign their best people to the core project team for many months, as well as cross-train end-users. Consider engaging a trusted implementation partner with relevant real-world ERP and industry experience to avoid overloading your team so you can achieve the outcomes you deserve.