Higher education institutions generally face significant resource pressures and challenges to their traditional modes of operating, as well as the emerging need to renew or replace administrative systems. In response, NACUBO and EDUCAUSE convened a joint working group to explore how best to maximize the cost-effectiveness of administrative services and systems.
Over the course of the group’s work from September to December 2013, members determined that the value of administrative services and systems derives from the degree to which they improve operations (e.g., quality, speed, cost), legal and regulatory compliance, and decision making. However, while such services and systems are critical to effective institutional leadership and management, they do not function as market differentiators. Thus, institutions can best maximize the cost-effectiveness of administrative services and related information technology by striving to meet industry standards while minimizing the resources required to achieve them.
The group identified a broad set of proposals that EDUCAUSE and NACUBO might pursue to drive greater administrative cost-effectiveness across higher education, starting with three priority next steps:
1. Develop general and, where appropriate, institutional category-specific:
- Models for best practices–based standardization of administrative services and related IT
- Benchmarking data and metrics for the costs of administrative services and related IT
- Case studies and best practices–based guides for initiatives in business process reengineering and shared services, analytics, and knowledge-sharing processes
2. Clarify and promote “market differentiation versus mission criticality” as a core concept for understanding and managing the administrative services and systems environment
3. Convene NACUBO and EDUCAUSE member representatives to inform and support the development of collaborative efforts to address shared services and systems challenges, such as engaging system providers on common systems development concerns
In finalizing its recommendations, the group stressed that CIOs and CBOs alone cannot drive transformation in administrative services and systems—key stakeholders, including senior administrators and governing board members, must actively embrace the process. Thus, the group encouraged NACUBO and EDUCAUSE to conduct sustained outreach to build essential support for change among other leadership communities. With their shared commitment, the group believes that colleges and universities can significantly improve administrative efficiency and effectiveness, as well as their capacity to achieve their missions while adapting to the trends shaping the future of higher education.