How to Leverage Digital Transformation for ERP Change Management in Higher Ed

A little more than a third of academic institutions have completed or are in the process of digital transformation as it applies to their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Among the rest, a third plan to or are considering upgrading their ERP system, and the other third say they have no plans to do so.

Why are colleges and universities upgrading their ERP systems as part of their digital transformation? According to a study from Educause, a nonprofit association serving higher education, the primary reason for upgrading systems or ERP in supply chain management for higher education is that current software is:

  • Not meeting functional needs
  • Too difficult to support and maintain
  • Not cloud-first
  • Not aligned with strategic missions
  • Disconnected from other systems
  • Unable to scale with growth or changes.

Leveraging Digital Transformation

New digital technologies provide opportunities to transform higher education ERP systems. Modern, cloud-based systems utilize automation, analytics, and machine learning to provide enhanced capabilities such as:

  • Built-in analytics and AI for predictive modeling and pattern detection
  • APIs to connect core ERP systems with custom applications and third-party platforms
  • Interactive dashboards for real-time visibility into key performance metrics
  • Mobility with cross-platform responsive design and native apps

ERP in supply chain management for higher education, based on new technologies, can transform procurement operations. Unifying data and automating workflows can streamline processes across suppliers, inventory, and departments for better decision-making.

Managing Change When Switching or Upgrading ERP Systems

Change can be difficult in higher education institutions. Traditions run long, and there are plenty of legacy systems and processes. Making the shift can be complex and disruptive. However, there are strategies you can employ to manage change.

Focus on People

Updating or changing ERP systems is often more about the people than the technology. It takes a proactive approach to higher education ERP change management to make the transition effective and foster adoption.

Announcing the intention to change and explaining the reasons (and needs) helps. Including key stakeholders in the discussion to capture their thoughts and concerns fosters dialogue and gives them a vested interest in the success of the change.

You may need to tailor conversations differently to different groups so they understand the logic and the benefits of making a switch. In other words, don’t send a blanket email and then move on. The time you invest upfront during a major change can pay dividends when it comes to user experience in the long run.

Address Concerns and Resistance

Not everybody embraces change—even when they know there is a better way to do things. Acknowledge that change can be challenging, especially for higher academic institution teams that may already feel understaffed, overwhelmed, or undervalued.

Provide Training and Encourage Feedback

Transitioning to a new system for managing resources or to a new ERP system involves much more than just adopting new software. It typically means significant changes to business processes and workflow. One of the worst things you can do is implement a new system and have people use it to replicate the old way of conducting business—negating the process and performance improvements that a digital transition brings.

You need robust training for users to leverage the full benefits of the platform. This includes hands-on training, training materials, and incorporating user feedback into your ERP platform.

It also helps to find power users among peer groups, who welcome the change, to help drive use and make others feel comfortable that this digital transformation is a positive change.

ERP in Supply Chain Management for Higher Education

With the right approach to higher education ERP change management, you can transform your business processes. Benefits include:

  • Unified visibility into procurement spend
  • Predictive and prescriptive data analytics for spend management
  • Automated purchase request workflows and approvals
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) integrations with online catalogs and supplier networks
  • Integration of procurement data with financial analytics

E&I Cooperative Services can help you realize the benefits of updating your higher education ERP systems, software, hardware, and more. With more than 100 competitively sourced and ready-to-use contracts, E&I Cooperative Services can streamline your procurement process to find ERP systems, other software, and consulting services to help with selection and implementation.

E&I Cooperative Services is a member-owned, non-profit purchasing cooperative. Leveraging the buying power of 6,000 member institutions, E&I Cooperative Services achieves best-in-class pricing that exceeds what higher education institutions could achieve on their own. Because E&I Cooperative Services focuses exclusively on the education sector, contracts are tailored to the educational environment.

See how E&I Cooperative Services can enhance your digital transformation, saving you time and money. Contact the dedicated procurement professional for your institution.


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