Approaches to Enterprise System Implementation in the New SaaS Environment


Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions provide colleges, universities and academic medical centers with new opportunities to reduce the risks and costs associated with solution-driven transformation/solution implementation projects as well as achieve the advantages of a rapid implementation.

Implementation projects, regardless of industry, have proven to be risky and subject to delays.  In higher education, a lack of timely decision-making has frequently been one of the most prevalent causes of these delays and represent a key risk.  In the new SaaS/PaaS environment, timely project completion takes on increased importance as subscription fees commence when the institution and service provider reach agreement and legacy infrastructure costs continue until the new solution replaces it.  As with the outdated, traditional implementation approach, implementation costs typically represent the greatest cost component of the project and delays can readily increase these costs further.

Rather than establishing and stabilizing project governance and the project management office, developing strategies, and making selected decisions during the implementation project, these key activities can occur pre-implementation.  This approach prepares the institution for the arrival of the integration partner by aligning key project participants around a common vision and addressing selected but numerous decisions that are not software/solution dependent.  Moving this decision-making forward tests the governance and project management structure, reduces risk by resolving key issues prior to the arrival of a large and decision-dependent project team, and focuses the transformation/implementation project on executing on the vision.  Decisions made prior to implementation project start-up potentially decrease the implementation timeframe, providing more rapid time-to-value, and avoid incurring implementation costs as team members await key decisions.

Dawn Rhodes, Chief Business and Financial Officer and Vice President, and ISG Partner David Hemingson discussed The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s success preparing for the implementation of an Oracle Cloud ERP application and presented a pre-implementation check list that institutions preparing for a solution-driven transformation/solution implementation project can apply.  They presented, Approaches to Enterprise System Implementation in the New SaaS Environment, at the National Association of College and University Business Officers Annual Conference in Minneapolis.

About the author

David Hemingson leads Higher Education and Academic Medical Centers practice.  He has provided professional services to 200+ university systems, colleges, research universities and academic medical centers. He specializes in complex, enterprise-wide transformation projects that encompass strategic planning and implementation of leading practices often in conjunction with selection and implementation of enterprise systems.  He has led teams in evaluating university and AMC organizational structures, processes, and technologies, and identifying and implementing operational improvement, service enhancement, and cost reduction/containment initiatives, including shared services.  Prior to joining ISG, he was with KPMG, BearingPoint and PwC.