How 3 Higher-Education Institutions Joined Forces to Innovate with Workday Student

The world of higher education is changing as we know it, with the most visible shift happening in student demographics. Birth rates have been steadily declining in the U.S., and higher education institutions are facing a significant drop in admissions in the coming years. And increasingly, students are looking for faster, skills-based learning pathways rather than pursuing a four-year degree in a profession they may not stick with for a lifetime. These and other changes are challenging institutions to rethink their traditional business models.

It’s also what brought three higher-education institutions—Bentley University, California College of the Arts (CCA), and Wellesley College—to embark on an unlikely journey together. To address current challenges and prepare for even more changes ahead, the three decided to collaborate while simultaneously deploying Workday Student, each completing their project on July 26, 2019. With Workday Student, the institutions are able to gain data-driven insights into things like the health of their applicant pool, student trends, and course demands—enabling them to make the most informed decisions both now and in the future.

“We were struggling to operate the university on the old legacy system because the processes that it embodied were not best practices. We knew there was no choice but to upgrade to a new ERP system,” says Bob Wittstein, vice president and CIO at Bentley University. “If we upgraded the old system, we would have continued doing business the same way, and that’s not what we wanted. As a best-in-class university, we wanted best-in-class technology and systems.”

Collaboration—the Key to Success

Alchemy, a Workday partner, initiated the idea for this partnership among the three schools. One benefit of this collaboration was that the schools were able to share Alchemy deployment consultants, says Ravi Ravishanker, CIO at Wellesley College. 

“If any one of us encountered a challenge, the consultant was able to convey that to the others, along with possible solutions and workarounds that had been found,” Ravishanker says. “That was very useful and minimized anxiety that we were not the only one facing a challenge.” 

As the three institutions look to the future, they’re anticipating a more modernized and enhanced student experience.

During the deployment, the three institutions shared learnings, processes, and best practices with one another. Each school had its own internal project team during deployment, but all three worked with the same team from Alchemy, which created knowledge transfer and advanced progression among the projects. This approach enabled the institutions to realize their shared goals while infusing their individual projects with their own cultures and core values. 

“We couldn’t look to what other schools had done because we were early adopters of the product,” says Michelle Ziegman, senior director of customer solutions at CCA. “I was really thankful to be working with Bentley, Wellesley, and Alchemy, because it was likely that whatever challenges we ran into, they ran into the same. So, it was more than just us, which was a good place to be.” 

With their recent project completions, Bentley University, CCA, and Wellesley College join Indian River State College as the first institutions to go live on Workday Student. 

Wittstein at Bentley University shares, “Now, our IT strategy is a cloud, SaaS-first strategy. Moving forward, we will not need to run data centers or do our own development anymore.”

As the three institutions look to the future, they’re anticipating a more modernized and enhanced student experience. The schools will now be able to continuously engage with their students throughout their entire enrollment period and will have access to new information that can help match students with courses, co-curricular activities, advisors, mentors, and more. With Workday Student, the schools are creating a seamless student experience by bringing all their data into one system—unlocking the right insights when and where they need them. 

As the world of higher education continues to change, we’re partnering with additional institutions that will join this group of early adopters, and we’re looking forward to deploying an even larger number of schools on Workday Student over the next year.

You can also check out the video below to learn more about Bentley, CCA, and Wellesley’s partnership during their deployment journey.