A new initiative out of the Higher Education Systems and Services (HESS) Consortium is researching whether a shared ERP services model is attainable and sustainable for private, nonprofit colleges and universities. The HESS Consortium Higher Education Technology Collective project, or HESS Collective, brings together 29 institutions to address "crucial foundational issues around ERP and cloud technology operations," according to a news announcement.
With the overall goal of helping institutions get through operational and financial challenges, the group will explore the feasibility of four main areas:
Adopting a single "cloud-native" ERP platform;
Negotiating pricing, terms and conditions as a group;
Creating a shared staffing and support model; and
Ensuring a 10-year return-on-investment.
The collective expects to select a common ERP platform and develop a shared organizational and data governance model by early 2021, with the first institutions moving to the new platform by mid-2021.
"This has been a concept for our member institutions since the HESS Consortium was founded," noted Keith Fowlkes, co-founder and executive director for the HESS Consortium, in a statement. "Private colleges and universities know that they must innovate to survive the coming decade and this group is leading the charge to change the paradigm of traditional ERP operations."
"Small institutions across the country should be engaging in discussions around how to partner with other institutions for shared systems and services," said Trey Arrington, vice president for operations at Spartanburg Methodist College and HESS Board member. "This includes ERP, CRM, financial and fundraising systems, just to name a few. When you look at other industries, such as healthcare and the reform that it has gone through, partnerships in private higher education are necessary for the survival and continuation of our institutions."