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Cloud-based ERP software signals new era at Shawnee State University

Shawnee State University in Ohio is implementing Oracle cloud software for financials, HR and student information to help staff become more effective and to improve services.

Shawnee State University in Ohio is launching a new way of doing business with cloud-based ERP software and HR...

tools to end its heavy dependence on paper and manual processes.

The public university, which has 3,772 students and about 400 full-time employees, is scheduled to go live in July with Oracle HCM Cloud, Oracle cloud-based ERP software, student information system software and Oracle Procurement Cloud, said Jonica Burke, director of enterprise resource planning and financial services for the university. Oracle Planning and Budget Cloud Service will follow shortly thereafter, she said.

"We are very excited with leveraging these products to a nearly paperless environment," Burke said during a conference call with two other university officials.

The Oracle software will replace human capital management (HCM) and ERP products from Jenzabar, which specializes in higher education; Adaptive Insights for planning and budgeting; and SciQuest for procurement.

Campus seeks more efficiency

The university, based in Portsmouth, Ohio, is currently so burdened by paper that employees need to visit the HR office, fill out a form and show an ID in order to change their mailing address, she said. Employees also complete time sheets and expense reports on paper.

The Oracle HCM Cloud will be "a great leap forward" by providing employee self-service for changing personal data, such as addresses, name changes, electing benefits and obtaining salary information, according to Burke.

The HCM Cloud will include core HR, benefits, absence management, payroll, time and labor, and transactional business intelligence as part of all of those modules, Burke said.

We literally still have individuals who are going from office to office with paper products, getting approvals and signatures.
Malonda Johnsondirector of human resources, Shawnee State University

The cloud-based ERP software will include the general ledger, fixed assets, cash management, and management of accounts receivable and accounts payable.

Expenses, now a multiphase paper process, will also be a component of the cloud-based ERP software, making it easier for employees to file for travel and other costs.

The Procurement Cloud will feature self-service procurement and handle purchasing and contracts.

Students to benefit from cloud

The suite also includes student information system software.

The university deployed the Oracle Student Cloud CX Platform last year, including products for marketing, recruitment and social engagement, Burke said. Social went live in August of last year, and marketing and recruiting launched simultaneously in September, she said.

The Student Cloud combines the capabilities of traditional student information system software with marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) to help personalize the student experience and promote student success, according to Oracle.

The Student Cloud allows the university to collect data and contact prospective students on social media sites. The university, for example, is noted for its game design and development program, and it can use the platform's marketing software to target internet sites that might be used by prospects interested in the field, according to the university.

Recruiting on social media

Chuck Warner, the university's CIO, said the Oracle Student Cloud allows the university to follow up with prospects and harness the power of social data.

"You can be proactive in reaching out to the student based on the types of communications they are providing on Facebook or Pinterest, or whatever the platform," he said.

New mobile capabilities will also allow employees to connect with the Oracle products at any time from any place, he said.

A Service Cloud feature of the student information system software is expected to launch for students in July, Burke said.

Live chat for students

That will bring three major benefits, including "a knowledge base," which is an FAQ that evolves as additional questions are asked and the most frequently used answers are elevated in the search results; a help ticket feature for submitting questions; and a live-chat function. 

The university originally planned to roll out the Service Cloud to the admission team only for use in interacting with prospective students, she said. However, during the implementation, the university decided to extend the student information system software to the Student Business Center, a one-stop student service center, to facilitate and track all staff interactions with students, Burke said. The expansion required a significant redesign of business processes that is still underway, she said.

Malonda JohnsonMalonda Johnson

The planned capabilities for Oracle Student Cloud include an innovative student lifecycle management service that combines the capabilities of traditional student information systems with marketing automation and CRM capabilities to help you personalize the student experience and promote student success.

During a presentation at Oracle HCM World in Boston, Malonda Johnson, director of human resources at Shawnee State University, said the university will emerge from "the dark ages" when it goes live with the Oracle products.

HR slowed by manual system

While bogged down with inefficient manual transactions and data entry, HR staff often struggle to help with "big-picture" strategic initiatives, she said. Because staff track forms and enter a lot of data in a short period of time, errors occur, she said.

"We still have a manual workflow process," Johnson said. "We literally still have individuals who are going from office to office with paper products, getting approvals and signatures. We still have paper-based time sheets."

Pre-cloud facts of Shawnee State University
This chart shows some key facts about the problems faced by Shawnee State University before implementation of cloud-based software.

The implementation of the Oracle software is sometimes challenging, especially converting data, she said.

 A lot of data was not maintained properly, with nonexistent dates for employee terminations, for example, causing problems in moving the data to conform to standards in the new systems, she said.

Change is goal of software

The university will also benefit from the integration of cloud-based ERP software and other systems, said Elinda Boyles, vice president for finance and administration at Shawnee State University.

Boyles said the new software will transform the way the university operates and how it provides services across the campus to customers and students. That is especially important because the state recently changed to a performance-based model for funding campuses.

"I'm going to be able to see our staff be more efficient and effective in what they do," she said in a video on YouTube. "They are going to help us move the organization to where we want to be."

Managing change is critical

Change management is vital when implementing new cloud software and winning user adoption.

That was a message from Malonda Johnson, director of HR at Shawnee State University, and Jay Chatterjee, senior vice president and partner at Drivestream, based in Sterling, Va., during a session at Oracle HCM World in Boston about the university's switch to Oracle cloud products.

"Change is accepting something different willingly," Chatterjee said. "If you are not willing, and you feel like someone is shoving it down your throat, user adoption is going to be bad. It does not matter how much time, how much money and how much effort you put into it, the perception is going to be it doesn't work.

"The reality is that it is important that you drive user adoption," he said "It is great application, but don't let people tell you that it doesn't work."

Little things help, such as posters and "lunch and learns," he said.

Drivestream, which is helping implement the Oracle system, is partnering with Navigator Consulting for change management on the campus, he said.

The university has a change ambassador team, a website with weekly communications, training sessions and demonstrations, Johnson said.

Also, employees can go to "point people" who are more skilled with the software, she said.

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