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Implementing Oracle HCM Cloud in higher education: Boise State University starts a new chapter

In June 2016, Boise State went live with Oracle ERP Cloud and then five years later, the HCM module made its internal debut. With an estimated 24,000 enrolled students, Boise State was one of the first universities to adopt Oracle ERP Cloud, blazing a digital transformation trail for the Higher Education industry.

Baker Tilly Digital’s Jeff Haynes, director, and Kaitlin Hurst-Farrell, manager, sat down with Jason Fairman, project manager at Boise State University, at the recent Alliance conference, presented by Higher Education User Group (HEUG), to discuss their journey to HCM.

Q: Why did you make the move to Oracle HCM Cloud?

Fairman: We made the transition to HCM because the customizations and on-premises infrastructure of PeopleSoft created too large of a maintenance burden for the University. Ultimately, we decided to go with HCM because we were a long-time customer of Oracle’s, and that relationship made the move to HCM logical. After having a positive experience with Oracle ERP Cloud we were ready to implement Oracle HCM Cloud and we selected Baker Tilly Digital to help us implement it.

Q: How did you assemble a project team?

Fairman: To set expectations, we held a project kickoff with over 120 people, representing groups from across the campus who would be directly impacted by this transition. This allowed them to hear from project leaders and executive sponsors about this new chapter. We also kept campus leadership informed and that made them feel a part of the success of the process.

Hurst-Farrell: From the beginning, having those resources as part of the kickoff allowed us to identify changes to business processes and in the system that would impact campus and end users. Boise State also utilized a business process improvement analyst who worked alongside our solution architect. This key team addition was unique and allowed us to successfully drive and manage change.

Q: What do HCM design sessions look like?

Haynes: Implementing cloud is different from implementing an on-premise solution. As a project begins, Baker Tilly Digital takes this opportunity to “harmonize” to build common models, gain consensus while designing processes with guardrails around what the software can do.

Hurst-Farrell: It gives us an opportunity to understand the complexities and recognize the strengths and weakness of the current state. When we’re talking design, we’re talking all the things that go into making the system do all the things that you want it to do. To understand, we discovered current processes and we engaged the campus liaisons to ensure we were identifying where those processes were different across campus, and then talk them through how we can find common models across the disparate practices.

Haynes: So it’s not so much about documenting the users’ requirements and handing them over to a developer. This is really an iterative process with functional process leads - innovating together.

Hurst-Farrell: It was really a collaborative conversation for each of the HCM modules. We had module-specific discussions, with HR users as well as with finance to bridge the gap between payroll and finance, given Boise State’s existing foundation in Oracle ERP Cloud.

Q: What does the first design session yield?

Hurst-Farrell: The first design session typically yields progressive innovation – maybe 60-70% of the way there. After design sessions, we run what we call a playback. This gives the core team a chance to preview the design and even demo it to other stakeholders – the idea being that a picture is worth a thousand words. Playbacks result in feedback, feedback yields further design ideas – we iterate this way until we have what we feel is a design that best serves, and then we move into testing.

Q: On average, how long did the whole design process take?

Hurst-Farrell: Of course, every project is different, but generally, it can take four to six months to finish the design phase of an implementation project.

Q: How do you determine when to Go Live?

Fairman: Planning is key. The more time you have, the more prepared you’ll be for environment planning, design, knowledge transfer, iterations, testing, and migration to minimize disruption upfront. Towards the end of implementation, Baker Tilly Digital worked with Boise State to assess readiness to ensure everyone understood what would be ready on day one and post-day one to create an efficient adoption experience.

For more information on how Baker Tilly works with clients in the higher education industry to ensure a successful cloud implementation using a proven phased approach, contact us today.

Jeffrey Haynes
Concert Hall Tower at the West Chester University of Pennsylvania
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