(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has begun a phased launch of a new operational software platform that is expected to eventually save the university more than $750,000 in recurring costs each year. It will improve user experiences and modernize processes for both students and employees.
SOU’s shift to the Workday platform – which will take three years to fully accomplish – will bring students streamlined registration options, an adaptable academic planner, and an integrated and effective mobile app, while employees will juggle fewer systems and see modernized and automated workflows, improved analytics and better security.
The university is seeking funding from the state to help cover $7 million of the $10 million pricetag to implement its new core information system, and plans to leverage its experience in implementing Workday to serve as a model – and potentially as a mentor – for other universities that shift to the platform. State funding of the move to Workday will save $2.5 million that SOU would otherwise have to pay in interest charges.
“This is an opportunity for us to improve many day-to-day experiences for our campus community, save a significant amount of money each year and potentially generate revenue in the future as we pave the way for other universities to make this important transition,” said SOU President Rick Bailey. “It is a terrific investment for SOU, and for the state of Oregon.”
SOU’s shift to Workday – from the outdated core information system it and most other universities currently use – began in early August with the planning and “discovery” phases of the new platform’s Business Administrative element, which includes human resources, finance and payroll. All employees – including faculty and student employees – will be moved to electronic time entry, leave requests and reimbursement procedures, and many other processes will be modernized and streamlined.
Implementation of the Business Administrative functions will be a gradual process, with a “go-live” date for the full component scheduled for next July 1.
The shift to Workday’s student module will then begin, and full implementation is expected to last another two years. The new platform will affect how students view and register for courses, and will provide tools for them to create academic plans, manage financial aid and complete other functions throughout their academic careers. Most functions will be accessible on Workday’s mobile app.
Workday also will become the primary portal through which the registrar will schedule and manage courses, and where faculty members and advisers will view and edit students’ transcripts and course progress.
SOU has hired a vendor – Alchemy – which specializes in helping colleges and universities implement the various functions of the Workday system. The university will take on a similar mentorship role after completing its own implementation process, as several other institutions in Oregon and elsewhere have indicated they plan eventual transitions to Workday and are closely monitoring SOU’s progress. Leaders of Oregon’s seven public universities have agreed that the transition is necessary and inevitable.