Linda Stanley is the Vice President for Computing and Information Services at State University (SU), a medium-sized, urban university that has experienced a 3% growth in enrollments every year for more than a decade. The university how has almost 22,000 students, just under 12,000 faculty and staff, nearly $1B in revenues, and can currently accommodate 5,000 students in residence halls. In addition, the state legislature has financially supported infrastructure development for SU to help accommodate the sustained growth in enrollments. The campus has significantly and positively impacted the visual appearance and the economy of the city where it is located.
The number of legacy systems across campus has adequately served SU in the past, but with the growth in enrollments, the university has also increased the number of faculty, support staff, and services. Currently, the core applications at SU include Blackboard, Lotus Domino, web self-service, and legacy administrative applications for all other purposes.
In recent meetings with the Provost of the university, Linda and her staff have responded to a number of concerns and problems from the Deans of academic departments on campus, as well as a number of the support departments, such as payroll, student financial aid, and HR. As Linda pointed out to the Provost and Deans, universities have unique technology challenges, such as an open technology environment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year, not just when school is in session. She also mentioned that SU has other factors that impact the effectiveness of IT services—such as their urban location and the rapid growth of the university over the past decade. Linda reminded the Provost that she and her staff were diligently working on a number of major technology initiatives for SU, including network reengineering, email consolidation, telephony modernization, help-desk/customer care redesign, and classroom technology.
Last week, the Provost called Linda and asked her to meet him at the coffee shop in the Student Commons—he wanted to ask her opinion about a technology issue. In the discussion, the Provost reflected on the growth of SU and wondered aloud if the university might be at a stage of maturity where it should consolidate the entire technology infrastructure of the university. He pointedly asked Linda what she thought—should they consider purchasing an ERP?
Of course, Linda was not prepared to discuss this question in great depth and told the Provost that she would do some research and make an appointment in a couple of weeks to have a more meaningful discussion of the issue. When she returned to her office, she scheduled a meeting with her staff for the next day so that she could go over the Provost’s request with them and then assign different parts of this research project to them. Linda reminded everyone that they had a limited amount of time to pull the information together—that she needed to deliver the Executive Summary to the Provost in the next few weeks.
Note: Some Internet research is required to properly respond to the following case questions.
1. Search the Internet and find ERP solutions that might be suitable for a university such as SU. What are the primary modules for this type of ERP? Briefly describe the functions of each module.
2. What business processes would most likely be affected if SU implemented an ERP?
3. Since this is a state university, the Board of Regents and the State Legislature will need to see a report on the expected costs and benefits of an ERP, both tangible and intangible. Although you don’t have any dollar amounts, identify some typical costs and benefits that Linda should include in her executive summary.
4. Should Linda use consultants? If so, what types of support should she expect from them?
5. Search the Internet—can you find an expected timeline for implementation of an ERP at a university? Do you think Linda should include a possible timeline in her report to the Provost? Why or why not?