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MANAGING EXCELLENCE: Campus Management Offers Another Choice for ERP

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations don’t have to take years and cost millions.

Just ask Campus Management Corporation ( The Boca Raton, Florida-based firm offers robust but rapidly deployable ERP solutions for colleges and universities focused on student services. The flagship solution, CampusVue, is a Windows-based suite of software that drives all the school’s admissions, academic, and administrative processes into one centralized database. The system is easy to use and even easier to support, and highly affordable. Better still—typical implementations take just six to nine months to complete.

Like ERP solutions from vendors such as Oracle/PeopleSoft, SAP, and SunGard SCT, Campus Management offers visibility of data across areas such as admissions, financial aid, human resources, and student accounts, to name a few. The difference, however, is in the approach. While other vendors offer cumbersome solutions that require months upon months of customization, Campus Management offers a turnkey approach, enabling implementations to go quickly and smoothly time and time again. Turnkey d'esn’t mean inflexible; Campus Management solutions are both customizable and configurable, and according to Product Manager Matt Barry, they put as much value in the front-end practice of researching a solution as the solution itself.

“Our goal is for customers to achieve operational excellence not only with their software but with their internal business practices, too,” says Barry, who adds that Campus Management serves 900 campuses in higher education overall. “We concentrate on developing features for our software that have a demonstrable benefit in addition to meeting the needs of general market trends.”

Trends today include the increasing complexities of issues like regulatory compliance. Campus Management is already there, offering built-in “Audit Extract Reporting”—simplifying compliance reporting by automating the extraction and consolidation of data from far-flung corners of the ERP in an instant.

Focusing on Education

Perhaps nobody understands the value of Campus Management’s approach better than Matt Johnston, vice president at Santa Barbara Business College (CA). For years, SBBC coordinated data in its financial, HR, and student systems by hand, printing up huge paper-based reports and sending them from campus to campus upon request. If, for instance, the Student Services director wanted data on the latest course enrollment rates, he would request a report. When the report arrived weeks later, in many cases it was too late to present accurate information about the subject in question. There were other problems, too. If the report presented data in a format that differed from what the director wanted, he was out of luck; there was no way to manipulate the data at all.

Finally, in early 2004, years of frustration with their manual procedures forced Johnston to make a change. SBBC investigated a host of ERP solutions from vendors, such as PeopleSoft and SunGard SCT, but opted for the CampusVue solution from Campus Management. All of the vendors offered a combination of flexibility and speed, but Johnston says that only Campus Management had that combination at a price that made sense to SBBC. Within six months, the campus moved from paper-based spreadsheets to electronic reports, revolutionizing its reporting process across the board. What’s more, after years of running reports only as a last resort, the school now runs hundreds of reports every month, including dozens that department heads can incorporate into their daily decisions.

“When you talk about [Return On Investment], above all else Campus Management has enabled us to become more efficient about the way we use our data” says Johnston, looking back. “For years, it felt like we were spending all of our precious time managing our machines. Today, rather than managing a bunch of disparate computer systems, we can focus on managing our students—that’s what we’re really here to do.”

A New Beginning

Newer Campus Management customers eagerly are awaiting that kind of ROI. At Southwestern Adventist University (TX), for instance, which rolled out the CampusVue system earlier this month, Charles Lewis, Information Technology Services director, says he’s hoping Campus Management’s ERP will revolutionize course registration for good. Since the mid 1990s, Southwestern Adventist relied upon a competing ERP system that failed to integrate course management data in real time. As a result, every semester began with students waiting in long lines to register for classes. Some years, students would wait for up to three hours, only to find out that their first choice classes were already full. By the beginning of 2004, after escalating complaints and frustration on both sides of the ERP interface, Lewis had had enough.

Almost immediately, Lewis set out to investigate alternate ERP systems. Over a period of six months, he checked out 14 diverse application providers, including larger companies such as Business Objects, Cognos, SAS, and Sungard SCT’s Banner product. By summer, he was ready to make a decision, and he chose CampusVue. Looking back, Lewis says he selected the Campus Management product because of the firm’s commitment to working as a partner throughout the implementation, and because of how flexible the system appeared to be. Another factor was time-to-value; while almost every other vendor promised to build a solution in 12 to 16 months, Campus Management planned to have it operational in six.

In this case, as it turned out, the CampusVue implementation, along with considerable data conversion from the legacy system, took about eight months. In April, Southwestern Adventist launched a handful of CampusVue modules to rave reviews. Specifically, the school implemented modules for Academic Records, Financial Aid, Student Billing and Housing, to name a few. Already, according to Lewis, school officials have seen an increase in productivity: While the previous ERP system was far too complicated for most employees to take advantage of reporting features, the Campus Management system generated “dozens” of reports in the first week alone. This fall, when Campus Management rolls out its first Web interface for CampusVue, Southwestern Adventist plans to offer online Course Enrollment, and use it to erase the nightmare of registration day forever.

“I can’t wait to see how [CampusVue] changes registration,” Lewis says. “If the impact that this system has had elsewhere is any indication of how it will change the way our students sign up for classes, we’re in for something very special.”

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