Are you ready for the cloud? 3 questions to consider

About two years ago, when Ohio State began looking for a new finance system and considering the potential of cloud-based products, they saw a unique opportunity: they could address both human capital and student systems at the same time.

“Changing to the cloud allows us to modernize our system,” said Assistant Registrar Misty Lenhart. “The cloud allows us to consolidate all the systems we’re using at our institution into one essential system. I think this is intriguing to anyone looking to upgrade.”

If your institution is considering the cloud, the OSU team suggests evaluating your campus culture and available human resources, and possibly broadening the scope of your process analysis to see if the cloud is right for you.

3 questions to get started

1. What is your campus culture?

“With the cloud, you lose a lot of ability to customize but are released from the maintenance of that customization,” said Associate Registrar Ryan Hunt.

“It ends up being a conversation about what your culture is,” added University Registrar Jack Miner. “Do you have an appetite for working in an environment that is, in many ways, delivered? To work in the cloud you need to adapt your business processes to match the product more than some institutions are willing to do.”

2. What is your governance/staffing model for moving to a new product?

“Relying on the cloud model really changes the staffing environment,” Miner said. “I imagine [as a result of this change], by 2019/2020 we’ll have significantly fewer developers, architecture and infrastructure staff, and we’ll need more database analysts, business analysts, and process analysts.”

He added, “For institutions in some geographic locations, the local hiring pool may not be able to support developer and architecture posts, for example, so the cloud-based system may be more practical.”

3. What other processes can you include in your evaluation?

“One of the nice things is that we’ve been able to take advantage of is the opportunity to reexamine all of our processes,” Miner said. “The implementation gave us the excuse and license to reengineer all of our processes. It also gave us the opportunity to do a Lean/Sigma Six analysis of the various processes, where we got to forget about our current system and what the software will support and ask ‘What would we like the ideal business process to be for each of these functions? And how can we build systems to support that?’”

This kind of assessment can, of course, be done within your current system, but a certain amount of momentum can be gained when the timing is right.

“Coordinating multiple systems will help us create more accurate reports, leverage more users and have a bigger analytics picture for future needs,” Lenhart said. “We identified major areas to transform and took a clean-sheet approach to reimagining our business processes.”

Learn more

Join OSU’s team at the AACRAO Annual Meeting, March 25-28, 2018, in Orlando, FL, where they’ll share their story in their session "Head in the Cloud, Feet on the Ground: A Cloud Migration Love Story." Register now!