Most higher education organizations are faced with the challenge of balancing innovation with operational effectiveness amidst strict budget constraints. For many, at the core of tracking operations and budgets is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
An ERP seeks to consolidate an organization’s functions plus the varying types and sources of data into a single system that services each department's specific needs. Workforce management capabilities are often included in the use of an ERP – most notably basic time and attendance functionality – in order to support labor cost tracking and budget alignment.
ERP technology does not come cheap. According to Educause’s most recent ECAR ERP survey, the 123 institutions that reported ERP project data spent over $320 million implementing the reported systems and currently spend more than $39 million every year operating them. That is without counting much of the internal staff support for these projects and systems.
With this level of investment, it’s no wonder that many institutions don’t even want to think about implementing any additional technologies. One is enough! Or is it?
Today’s technology expectations
Students, staff, and administrators have a certain level of expectation about an organization’s ability to provide them with the information, resources, and experience they need in a format and delivery they are accustomed to.
The workforce management component of an ERP affects every staff member and student worker. With the basic functionality of an ERP’s time and attendance solution, it’s justifiable to say that it’s “good enough” – staff get their paychecks, and that’s all that matters, right? I argue that this is not, in fact, good enough.
Real-time, geographic based clocking in/out functionality, self-service tools like viewing schedules, swapping shifts, and requesting time off, plus access to an employee’s data at the touch of a finger – these are the things that can drive the employee experience and establish you as an innovator. And an ERP system is not likely to deliver these advantages.
If all you’re looking for in an ERP system is that it can “get the job done”, you’re missing out on those innovative competitive advantages. Your workforce management approach can drive recruitment and retention, establishing you as an innovative leader in the industry. An engaged employee is a productive one, one that can further drive your mission and future success. There’s no easier way to do that than to enhance their work experience.
By supplementing your ERP system with an integrated automated workforce management solution, you are meeting employee expectations and can see a faster return on investment (ROI) during implementations than you would during an ERP one. According to public sector organizations surveyed by Aptitude Research Partners, nearly 1/3 of organizations took 2 years or more to see a return on their ERP implementation, while over 1/2 saw an ROI on time and attendance systems within 12 months.
It’s tempting to put all your eggs in the ERP basket. But it’s important to take a step back and properly evaluate the situation. Is your ERP driving innovation and enhancing your employee’s experience? Or is it simply another tool to check the “done” box each payroll period? Tackling a new technology can be daunting, but organizations that partner with workforce management solution providers are significantly happier with the education and training support they receive versus that of their ERP partner.
Reevaluate and adapt. It’s the name of the game and an easy one to play with the right partners. Delivering engaging technology to your staff can only drive you to a brighter tomorrow.