Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education that improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. It is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System, serving over 7,000 students and granting associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates, as well as customized training to business and industry.
Chippewa Valley Technical College’s IT department had a reputation around campus—and it wasn’t a good one. Dubbed the “IT cave,” the department was about three years behind in getting projects completed, with no defined process for project prioritization, approval or completion.
With frustration levels running high across campus, the school’s executive leadership concluded it was time for a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), as well as a new management approach. They had been outsourcing the management of their ERP to the software system provider, and the lack of leadership on campus was taking its toll.
The executive team contracted Delta Initiative to take them through the RFP process for a new ERP. Delta Initiative began by interviewing stakeholders at the college—finance, student services, etc.—to better understand deficiencies and to gather the top priorities of all the users.
After assessing CVTC’s current ERP system, it became clear that the issue was not the ERP but rather a lack of process and governance. Delta Initiative’s recommendation was to refresh the current system and create stronger processes around the system’s use—including hiring a new Chief Information Officer rather than relying on the service provider for that role.
This recommendation has saved CVTC more than $1 million, while also creating a functioning IT department, led by the new CIO Tom Lange, that supports efficient data management throughout the school. Talking with users and empowering them to be part of the solution was critical to success. As Lange put it, “It was no longer an IT problem; it became a business process improvement project.”
“Framing things differently was a big piece of this,” says Lange. “IT can help implement solutions, but the decisions are made by people in the business units. Putting ownership back into the business units was huge.”
According to Lange, Delta Initiative’s approach to finding the solution was key. “One of the things I really value about Delta Initiative is they don’t just give you the answer; they help you ask the right questions so you can make an intelligent decision,” he says. “Also, their institutional knowledge of how different systems are set up across the industry is extremely valuable.”
Delta Initiative’s recommendations and roadmap for implementation tied into the strategic plan, allowing Lange to set new goals and expectations, and adjust staffing accordingly. “It allowed CVTC to stay with the current ERP system but make the changes needed,” he explains. “I was able to add staff to get on top of some of the projects and do some cross-training.”
One of Delta Initiative’s recommendations was to create an ERP steering committee to help prioritize projects across the institution. Comprised of Lange, the VP of Operations, the VP of Student Services and the Finance Director, this team provides the governance that was so lacking.
CVTC is 75% through implementing most of Delta Initiative’s recommendations, and the impact is clear. “It changed the way we do business,” says Lange. “It gave us the ability to make the changes we needed to manage data effectively.” The results are felt by faculty and staff across the campus, who celebrated IT’s accomplishments and understood IT’s resource challenges at this year’s all-campus meeting rather than bringing a long list of complaints.
When asked what word he would use to describe Delta Initiative’s work with CVTC, Lange offered several: guidance, mentorship, validation, roadmap. “I see Delta Initiative as a great partner, rather than a vendor,” he says. “To have that amount of trust in an outside entity that you can engage them when you need them—these partnerships are extremely valuable and hard to find in today’s IT environment.”
About Delta Initiative
An independent management consulting company servicing institutions of higher learning and businesses, Delta Initiative’s executive-level consultants use their extensive knowledge and experience to empower and actualize clients’ strategies for greater success. Delta Initiative is committed to helping leaders generate measureable strategic change by focusing your organization on a culture of delivery enabled by technology.