Quality beats quantity when it comes to technologies at a university.
When implementing technological software, it’s important to have at the forefront of the mind, who or what these technologies will be servicing. In most cases, technologies serve the demands of students, new applicants or administration staff.
Much like in any other organisation, it is imperative to satisfy the baseline needs of staff in order to ensure optimal productivity. Equally important, is to optimise the ROI on any technology that’s being implemented to satisfy these needs. The aim of the game is to keep costs down while maximising technological outputs.
On this premise, here are some of the most common mistakes universities make when implementing institution-wide or departmental technologies:
Although various technologies are in existence to address the varying needs, staff and students are willing to operate on only one system. In addition, they will expect consistent data across to the platform they are predominantly working on, and be able to collaborate across other departments. So yes, you could invest in the best technologies for marketing, admissions, communications and management functions. But if the technologies don’t permit collaboration, then they will create larger departmental silos. Which leads to mistake number 2..
Two base-line demands for all university admin staff are to have consistent data across all systems, which update in real-time. Too many administration teams still face the arduous task of importing and exporting data from one system to another. For this reason integration across systems is imperative in order for staff to feel motivated, new applicants to feel engaged and for the university to stay competitive.
It is a common misconception that customising an in-house technology to stay competitive on the technology front will save universities time and money. Although an institution will likely have more control over developments and customisations by keeping them in-house, clearly defining the project and specifications is an involving task which uses up valuable resources and man-hours. Modular upgrades are unlikely to be available and de-bugging issues can be prolonged. This implies a heavy reliance on the IT team and a high likelihood of costs going beyond the estimated budget.
An important consideration to have in mind when investing in technology is that the needs of your staff, students and applicants are changing every year, every month and at times, every day. As a result, universities will need to have the flexibility to update technology on demand in order to stay competitive. With legacy technologies, there are no modular upgrades and bugs are never fixed. Simply put, these technologies lack the basic flexibility required to stay competitive!
When designing a digital journey for your student or applicant, it is important to remember that your institution is just a number, until they feel a sense of belonging with your institution. Prior to enrolment, a prospect student will likely be considering a range of other institutions alongside yours. For this reason, the quality of your admissions experience will play a huge part in converting them into enrolment. The biggest part of this is undoubtably the personal touch. Second to this is the quality of your interface. By delivering a mobile compatible and dynamic interface, your institution will be delivering a strong message about your university brand, culture and quality of education.
It is important to have an equilibrium between the output generated by technologies and how much time and money we invest to experience these outputs. Too much technology can be counter-productive for an institution as it will likely force admin staff to import and export data from one system to another, essentially costing your institution more time and more money. This equilibrium should be seen as the point at which the output is as high as possible whilst time and monetary investments are as low as possible.
An integrated solution is often the best alternative in terms of end-to-end functionality which charges only a single license fee. Even then, it is important that ensure that the staff portal is collaborative and effective in breaking down departmental silos. For students, it is imperative that the interface is easy to use and compatible with mobile. Moreover, it’s important to remember that staff and students alike have ever-changing demands. Technology must be flexible enough to accommodate these changes but be balanced with incremental changes as opposed to massive and frequent digital transformation projects.
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