How Workday Student Is Empowering a Culture of Success at Indian River State College

Indian River State College has an overriding mission: Enable the success of students. The Fort Pierce, Florida-based college has an open-door policy that states if you have a high school degree or equivalent, you are welcome, and it regularly wins accolades for combining affordability with quality education, leading to good jobs.

While there is a healthy and ongoing national conversation around education to occupation, the skills gap, and opportunity for all, Indian River State College has been building and maintaining a culture that translates the best ideas in higher education into meeting the particular needs and aspirations of each and every student.

As Dr. Edwin Massey, Indian River’s president, told us, “The reason culture is so important is if you go into an environment and you feel excitement, you feel dedication, you feel commitment, you see people making themselves available to get the job done rather than hiding and hopefully not being picked to be involved in something, then you begin to feel that you too can be dedicated, you too can get the job done. You feel that culture here at Indian River.”

Indian River State College

Once you build a can-do culture, the next big part of meeting each and every student where they’re at is supplying them with tools that simplify the college experience and make things like signing up for classes, financial aid, or getting transcripts intuitive and easy—instead of confusing and overwhelming.

At Workday, we are extremely proud that Indian River is the very first higher education institution to go live on Workday Student. Students are already thrilled with the ease of managing their college lives from the comfort of their phones.

Leading the deployment of Workday Student at Indian River State College was Paul O’Brien, vice president for institutional technology and CIO, and Meredith Coughlin, assistant dean of enterprise systems. They shared their learnings and insights into their Workday experience and the power of one unified system.

Indian River deployed Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) in 2016, is now live with Workday Student and is currently deploying Workday Prism Analytics. What are you most excited about for this latest go-live?

Paul O’Brien IRSC
Paul O’Brien

O’Brien: I believe that the combination of Workday HCM, Workday Financial Management, Workday Student, all tied together with Workday Prism Analytics—really the whole idea behind the “Power of One”—will redefine higher education. I’m very excited that our organization is now more strategic and data-driven, especially considering our data used to be in disparate systems. Even if that data was accessible, marrying data into meaningful reports was all but impossible. Now, we are taking the Power of One and extending it, through Workday Prism Analytics, to include every system used to drive student success throughout the institution.

Many higher education institutions today wrestle with issues similar to ours because they have been working with mostly bolt-on and legacy ERP systems. For example, bringing data from many different sources together to gain insight is just extremely difficult to do when systems are not all connected. You’re querying different systems trying to build meaningful reports, while also questioning the integrity of the data. I believe that the return on our investment in Workday, to a large degree, comes from eliminating that activity.

Meredith Coughlin IRSC
Meredith Coughlin

Coughlin: I would marry that with the improvement of the user experience. We have new faculty and students coming in every year, and we’re excited about providing them with a more present-day experience. On our legacy system, it took a solid year before employees and students were comfortable with the process. I see that time being dramatically decreased just given Workday’s intuitive interface.

What were some of the highlights from your deployment experience?

O’Brien: There has been a great sense of teamwork while working through the inevitable challenges that come up when you are trying to switch systems of this size, but we’ve always been able to find solutions with the help of Workday. As you might imagine, the turn-around on these deployments happens at a breakneck pace—having someone there who understands that and is working towards the same goals as you is important. I also found that culturally, Workday is right there with us. They’ve just been fantastic from day one. When I realized that Workday was truly interested in ensuring our success, I’m going to say frankly it became a no-brainer.

Any tips you would recommend to other schools deploying Workday Student?

O’Brien: The key thing is to take a hard look at the membership of your team. You have to make sure you have broad institutional support at all levels of the organization, and strong communication. You also can’t treat the Workday Student deployment as a project—it’s something that will change an entire organization for the better. Lining up that change-management piece right from the start is critical.

Coughlin: Paul (O’Brien) has done a good job of avoiding recreating the old way of doing things and seeing the possibilities in the new. You have to be mindful of that, because you’re probably going to have people on your team that are very attached to the current way things are done. Having people in the room to counter will push your organization towards maximizing new opportunities.

To learn more about how Workday Student is empowering a culture of success at Indian River State College, watch the video below.