Established in 1996
Improved performance and speed
Taking its business forward
University of the Sunshine Coast
The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) is one of Australia’s fastest growing universities, offering more than 100 undergraduate and postgraduate study programs to around 13,500 enrolled students.
In order to keep up with rapid change, and operate efficiently in an environment of squeezed budgets and reduced funding, the university's chief operating officer mandated that all departments must move to a cloud-based environment.
The uni subsequently set off on an ambitious three-month project to move its TechnologyOne Financials solution from an on-premise environment to Software as a Service (SaaS).
“SaaS is where the future of software is going. As a business, if you think you’re going to keep your software on premise, you’re only delaying the inevitable,” USC’s Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Cannon said.
“It was clear to us that TechnologyOne’s vision was to move to a SaaS-based solution, and we knew we would get the most value from our software by going on that technology journey with them.”
USC implemented TechnologyOne’s Financials Software as a Service (SaaS) solution to simplify its computing model and focus on its core business of attracting and retaining students, rather than the supporting technology.
“TechnologyOne’s software works better in the cloud than it does on premise.”
Chief Financial Officer, University of the Sunshine Coast
Cannon says since migrating from on premise to SaaS in 2016, TechnologyOne’s Financials software “performs better”.
“TechnologyOne’s software works better in the cloud than it does on premise,” Cannon said.
“IT spends less time troubleshooting and more time taking the business forward. It’s easier for our users to use - because they’re instantly familiar with a web browser.
“Upgrades are seamless and delivered half yearly - our most recent upgrade was completed in a day. Our Director of IT is stoked because he can use his resources on the more important parts of the university, such as keeping our students happy.
“Now that we’re not spending time on upgrades, we can also focus on other aspects of the software, like getting the most out of Ci Anywhere.”
Discussing the three-month migration from on premise to SaaS, Cannon said it was the uni’s “partnership approach with TechnologyOne that got us to the finish line”.
“It was our partnership approach with TechnologyOne that got us to the finish line.”
Chief Financial Officer, University of the Sunshine Coast
University of the Sunshine Coast's perspective
USC has set three key strategic goals; to reach 20,000 students by 2020, to be positioned in the global tertiary education community as a top-100 university under 50 years of age, and to be a capacity builder for the regions it operates in. Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Cannon says despite its ambitious goals, USC lives by a motto of keeping things simple.
“Digital transformation, for us, has been about looking at the simplest way to do something, to ensure that we are spending University resources on the right things,” said Cannon.
“That doesn't mean you're going to spend less resources, but it’s about being really targeted to get the most efficient outcome from that resource.”
Describing the university’s journey to SaaS, Cannon says change management was a key consideration.
“SaaS and digital transformation in general is driving a change in the workforce, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change the people in your workforce,” she said.
“Our cloud change management process was centred around bringing along our IT people on the journey, so they could understand that they still have a lot of value, and that we still need their skills. It was about helping them to see how their skills would apply in this new world.”
Cannon warns other universities considering digital transformation to “be honest about what you’re trying to achieve”.
“Properly self-assess where you really think your business is at. Ask yourself, ‘how confident and knowledgeable are you about your own business processes?’
“You need to have that understanding before you go into any kind of conversation with a technology provider, if you want to get the best out of what that provider can bring to the table.”
Spotlight on SaaS
Cannon says USC started its cloud journey at a time when “a lot of organisations, not just universities, started to seriously talk about cloud”.
As a result, the university was a trailblazer, becoming one of TechnologyOne’s first universities to switch to SaaS.
“When we first started exploring cloud, we discovered that a lot of vendors claimed to be providing a ‘cloud’ solution, but were actually offering layers upon layers of complexity.
“TechnologyOne was the first vendor to propose a true SaaS solution. There had clearly been a lot more consideration into redeveloping the software to take advantage of a cloud-based model.”
Cannon says the TechnologyOne SaaS solution is “better because everything works faster”, making it easier for “staff to get work done”.
“The majority of our workforce love SaaS, because they can access it anywhere as long as they've got access to the internet,” she said.
“My life changed overnight when we put in Ci Anywhere Workflow, because finally the senior staff at the university could pick up a device, they could be anywhere, and they could press 'approve'. That was a big mindset change that has delivered a lot of benefits.”
In addition to functionality benefits, Cannon says the move to SaaS has helped to foster a stronger relationship between the finance and IT teams.
“We now have a much better alignment between IT and finance,” said Cannon. “The migration project enabled USC's IT and finance teams to see the value in what the other had to contribute. It’s a really positive outcome, because innovation only happens when you collaborate.
“We now use functional resources rather than technical resources to operate the finance system, which means our IT team can invest in the uni’s strategic objectives, and the finance team can invest in driving the functionality we need.”
University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) is one of Australia’s fastest growing universities, serving the Sunshine Coast and extended region from north Brisbane to the Fraser Coast. The University opened in 1996 with 500 students. USC offers more than 100 undergraduate and postgraduate study programs.