(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has successfully completed the first phase of its transition to a cutting-edge core information system – a process that most of Oregon’s colleges and universities, and many other government entities, are expected to duplicate in the coming years.
SOU is switching its primary operational software from a platform that was developed more than 30 years ago – and is still in use by most higher education institutions across the country – to the modern platform Workday. The move is expected to eventually save the university more than $750,000 in recurring, annual costs and improve the user experiences of both students and employees.
The first phase of the transition, which has been in the works for two years, has focused on employee-based elements of the platform: finance, payroll and human resources. Those elements of Workday “went live” at SOU on a limited basis in mid-December, and the transition was completed in January – including processing of the month’s payroll.
“This is a monumentally complex shift, and some entities that have gone before us have reported a pretty chaotic process,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “We have had employees from various departments across our campus who have worked as a team on this project since mid-2022. Their selfless efforts have been focused and deliberate, and the results so far are outstanding – they are continuing to correct a handful of minor glitches, but there have been no breakdowns or reports of deep-seated issues.
“A change to operational software may not seem especially thrilling or energizing, but this is truly a transformational move for SOU. This is a key moment in the repositioning of this university, from a culture of scarcity to one of opportunity. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone on our SOU team who bent over backward to make this possible for all of us.”
SOU’s team for its Core Information System Replacement (CISR) project has worked on the transition with the company Alchemy, a vendor that specializes in helping colleges and universities implement various functions of the Workday system.
The transition from an outdated core information system to Workday will enable employees to juggle fewer systems and see modernized and automated workflows, improved analytics and better security. It includes a shift for all employees – including faculty and student employees – to electronic time entry, leave requests and reimbursement procedures, and many other processes are being modernized and streamlined.
The next phase of Workday implementation – the student module – will begin this spring and is expected to last another two and a half 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 application 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 leaders intend to eventually leverage the university’s experience in implementing Workday to serve as a model – and potentially as a mentor – for other universities that shift to the platform. Several other institutions in Oregon and elsewhere have indicated they plan eventual transitions to Workday – Portland Community College and Oregon State University have already signed contracts – and are closely monitoring SOU’s progress.
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.