In today’s higher education landscape, technology is an integral part of delivering the student experience, and must keep pace as needs evolve. Delta Initiative’s Humber College engagement demonstrates why a successful IT implementation depends upon effective business processes across the organization.
Like many large post secondary institutions, over many years, Humber College developed an in-house legacy system for student services and academic administration. After a strategic review, Humber concluded that the legacy applications were no longer suited to grow with the College, as they were not scalable, did not provide modern functionality and could not provide the student experience Humber was aiming for.
While working with a highly regarded software vendor, Humber’s CIO, Scott Briggs, quickly realized that the magnitude of implementing a new student information system (SIS) posed larger challenges.
“The vendor was highly focused on implementing the software, as would be expected, but organizationally we also needed to focus on business outcomes. We needed help bridging that gap,” says Briggs. He notes that while technology professionals are software specialists focused on the technology, it’s the institution’s job to ensure the business processes are in place to drive and sustain it. Adds Briggs, “An SIS transition is something that most institutions don’t do very often, so there can be a huge learning curve.”
In addition, Humber realized it lacked the internal resources and structures to provide the project and organizational change management needed to drive
Bridging the gap between technology and process Briggs brought in Delta Initiative to assess the project progress and provide recommendations for successful implementation. Delta Initiative identified four factors: project management, vendor management, organizational change management and project governance—and gave specific recommendations around each.
“We are really changing core processes within the institution,” says Briggs, pointing to the crux of Delta Initiative’s engagement with Humber. “Yes, the technology platform is changing and that’s important,” he says. “But more significantly are changes happening around how we do business. When you look at enterprise technology initiatives, the amount of change they introduce into the organization cannot be underestimated.”
Focused decision making
Key to this shift is engaging stakeholders across the spectrum, especially top leaders. Humber gave Delta Initiative full access to executive leadership—a move Briggs found key to the project’s success. Delta Initiative established a rapport with senior leaders by helping frame significant issues that then enabled meaningful conversation and timely decision-making.
“The conversation became more focused on the real issues at hand, and the peripheral issues disappeared,” notes Briggs, “providing the clarity that paved the way for good decisions.”
Success strategy spreads
Humber took on the report’s recommendations, which led them to engage Delta Initiative to manage the successful implementation, including organizational change and vendor management. Since the project dealt with institution-wide processes as much as it did a new SIS, the work Humber did has had a larger impact that is benefitting other initiatives. As the College evaluates its human resources system and gears up for a transition, the experience with the IT change and Delta Initiative shows.
“From an organizational learning perspective Humber has reaped long term permanent benefits” says Briggs. “Delta Initiative certainly had a larger impact than just managing a project. We’ve learned quite a bit through the experience and from Delta Initiative. We’re better for it.”
This illustrates another ancillary benefit: the scope of the project and its impact is much more broad than the initial need that drives it. This is perhaps summed up best by a general observation made by Delta Initiative in its report to Humber:
“Improving effectiveness and efficiencies of a project and its project team is seldom the result of pushing one lever of change. Generally, it is the combination of people, process and technology changes that yield the most beneficial outcomes.”
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.