Public Community College
Aravaipa, Maricopa, San Tan, Signal Peak, Superstition Mountain, Casa Grande, Florence
“Campus management has been committed to our transformation and success throughout the selection and implementation. They’ve made it clear they’re not going to allow us to fail.”
Challenges and Goals
For decades, though, Central Arizona College had struggled with a legacy student information system that was unable to keep pace with its evolving constituencies and needs.
Chris Wodka, the college’s Chief Financial Officer, traced the issue back to the original implementation. “The system was robust, but the original setup, configurations, support services, and training weren’t aligned with our needs. So over time as we added campuses and looked to the future, it became clear that the current system wasn’t going to work.”
The other issue was the changing higher education landscape. Enrollments for most institutions throughout the country were down and competition was up as more online programs emerged.
“Our legacy system didn’t have the modern CRM tools that our recruitment department needs to improve engagement,” says Cameron Sanders, Director of Enterprise Application Services at Central Arizona College. “We also didn’t have degree audit capabilities that would allow students to track their progress in our programs.”
Student Enrollment was looking for ways to improve constituent engagement and services.
“Our main goal was to be more efficient for our students, faculty, and staff,” says Veronica Duran, Dean of Student Enrollment at CAC. “But with the setup of our legacy system, we were often turning to our IT department to create the workarounds and reports we needed to gain greater transparency and efficiencies.”
In terms of academic delivery, CAC had been experimenting with competency-based education and needed a modern system that could also support nontraditional programs.
Selecting the Right Solution
CAC created an ERP Selection Committee that included representatives from all the key areas across the institution, including enrollment, student services, financial aid, finance, HR, faculty, and module users. This would not only ensure that the technical and business requirements were met, but would promote cultural adoption across the institution.
We had the full support of our president and full buy-in from every department. If you don’t have this you’re not going to get the system-wide cooperation you need down the road to ensure a successful transformation.
Gaining a True Partner
In replacing its legacy system, Central Arizona’s primary concern was as much about the vendor’s commitment to the college’s success as the quality of the product.
Our main goal was to receive the implementation, integrations, training, and ongoing support we needed to really use these products to their full capabilities.
Gaining Insight from Peer Institutions
When Campus Management became a finalist among the many vendors who responded to CAC’s RFP, the next step was to look at other institutions using CampusNexus.
In addition to reference calls, we were able to visit with one of Campus Management’s client institutions here in Arizona. Being able to look at their processes and how Campus Management and the institution set up the system was very beneficial.
Campus Management also invited CAC team members to the company’s annual users’ conference, CampusInsight, prior to the final selection.
We were able to meet with experts from Campus Management in our different areas. I was able to talk with finance experts about how we wanted to configure our processes as well as explore best practices, and pros and cons with Campus Management’s current customers.
Importance of Finding the Right Higher Ed Technology Partner
Chris Wodka, Chief Financial Officer at Central Arizona College, discusses how the institution turned to a technology partner in Campus Management that can manage their platform in the cloud so they can channel more IT resources on student success initiatives.
Implementation and Project Management
The college chose CampusNexus Cloud/Microsoft Azure, Campus Management’s SaaS option for deploying the new student information system, CRM, finance, and HR and payroll solutions.
Sanders points to today’s challenge of finding and affording qualified IT professionals as one of the main catalysts for moving to the cloud. “It’s hard nowadays to attract and pay for the necessary IT talent to support an institution’s infrastructure. Moving to the cloud was a no-brainer for us because it addressed a lot of those issues we struggled with previously,” says Sanders. “We were able to go from six servers to two, with four virtual servers now managed by Campus Management. As importantly, four ERP functional analysts who used to be database programmers are now physically located in frontline business offices during the implementation. They assist directly as needed to get a feel for what’s needed.”
For CAC, CampusNexus Cloud powered by Microsoft Azure is a win-win. “Campus Management maintains and upgrades the applications, but we still have the same level of control as far as our users and the permissions within the ERP,” adds Sanders.
CAC’s Blackboard LMS was already in the cloud, but the college didn’t want to take a piece-meal approach this time. “We needed a fully integrated system in the cloud,” says Wodka. “It’s where everything in the industry is headed.”
Sanders manages the implementation steering committee that ensures the needed coordination and communication during the ERP implementation. “We are unique in our project management approach. I have Campus Management and CampusWorks working closely with me to ensure a successful transformation. It’s really a triumvirate.” Campus Management even helped Sanders in his preparation for PMP testing and certification. “My role as director of enterprise application services is to oversee the ERP systems, so it was very important that we all spoke the same language. Campus Management was very supportive with materials and advice for gaining the certification.”
“We have a number of staff members in my department who are testing the student system and making sure that the information is feeding over correctly from the legacy system into CampusNexus,” says Duran. “The communication between Campus Management and CAC has been wonderful. Everybody is very responsive and on top of it in a very timely manner.”
Luisa Ott’s department just had its discovery meeting with Campus Management on payroll, finance, and HR. “We just finished finance, so we’re starting talks on what our needs are in that area. Campus Management has been really great about communicating with us, providing deliverables, and meeting timelines, which is very helpful considering we’re all trying to do our day-to-day jobs as well.”
Central Arizona College Case Study PDF
Download the case study and learn why this public community college chose CampusNexus in the cloud to replace its legacy system and transform operational efficiency.Download PDF
About Central Arizona College
Central Arizona College’s mission is to engage diverse communities in quality learning experiences for lifelong success by providing accessible, educational, economic, cultural, and personal growth opportunities.