Transforming HE with cloud financial technology

‘More than ever, it’s important for the finance function to have access to real-time data,’ says Anwen Robinson, UK Operating Officer at TechnologyOne

With the educational landscape shifting dramatically, many universities are facing increased regulatory hurdles and even tighter budget restrictions, leaving them to try and overcome the challenge of efficiently running their higher education institutions without compromising on the quality of education.

Like many businesses that are rapidly adopting software as a service (SaaS) models, universities are seeking more cost-effective ways to implement IT services without the required maintenance and upgrade costs. With many universities still relying on legacy systems and paper-based process, SaaS offers a computing model that can transform the way universities operate. SaaS providers maintain and automatically update the software, allowing universities to focus on their core business, rather than supporting complex IT infrastructure.

Focus on financial innovation

Increasingly, university finance departments are playing a larger role in centralising business information and supporting decision-making. Now more than ever, it’s important for the finance function to have access to real-time data. SaaS offers many benefits to universities looking to streamline their workflows and harness real-time information. The technology offers much greater mobility than traditional software offerings, and applications can be used across any compatible device in any location. This provides a powerful tool for real-time decision-making and empowers the finance function to support the strategic aims of the organisation whilst safeguarding the bottom line.

“HE organisations that invest in this technology and lead the paperless charge will pull ahead of the competition, in terms of productivity, revenue and reputation.”

With universities under pressure to gain efficiencies and improve services, enterprise SaaS can help to increase financial transparency, simplify reporting and consolidate information. By capturing financial data across all departments, universities can efficiently respond to trends and requests as they develop. For instance, tracking changes in enrolment, spikes in course demand, fundraising efforts and approval of research grants can allow organisations to make data-informed decisions that support the organisation. Monitoring active research project progress against set milestones assists universities in their resource and management efforts and highlights project revenue opportunities related to specific proposals. Simplifying the capture and retrieval of financial information enhances decision-making and allows universities to remain nimble and agile, all the while reinforcing the benefits of instant access to easily understood, real-time information.

Increased collaboration and flexibility

As well as simplifying workflows and operations, financial and accounting SaaS can also help universities to improve their overall organisational performance and reduce back office costs. As many SaaS applications are accessed through browsers, the learning curve for users is not so steep. This means that staff can be productive almost straight away, with little or no need for training.

Increasingly, universities are turning to enterprise SaaS because it offers a wide variety of functions in a simpler, faster and more flexible solution, with improved layers of security and support. In fact, renowned universities such as the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) have adopted SaaS as a way to standardise and automate business processes, consolidate legacy systems and integrate mobile device compatibility for processes such as online expenses and authorisations. This increased level of mobility affords LSE and other higher education institutions with the opportunity to work in various locations, and facilitates the access of financial data any time, anywhere and on any device. This raises levels of business agility, empowers university staff and increases productivity.

This level of flexibility can give universities using SaaS a real advantage, as well as the opportunity to scale services to fit their needs. Ultimately, the reliability, flexibility and cost of financial SaaS technology makes it a successful solution for increasing the efficiency of the university finance function.

Looking ahead, HE organisations that invest in this technology and lead the paperless charge will pull ahead of the competition, in terms of productivity, revenue and reputation. Implementing a robust, end-to-end solution will be a key component in remaining agile. As a result, enterprise SaaS solutions will be at the heart of the higher education finance function, harnessing real-time data and supporting business decisions.

For more on TechnologyOne, click here.

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