Higher Ed’s Top IT Issues: Restore, Evolve, Transform

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Restore. Evolve. Transform. While these sound like words found in the title of self-improvement books, they take on an entirely new meaning when put into the context of emerging from the pandemic.

EDUCAUSE has released its Top IT Issues of 2021. This ever-popular report produced each year helps institutions prioritize their goals, projects, and budgets. This year, they took a different approach: they focused on how the role of technology will affect pandemic recovery by identifying the top five issues in the context of these three scenarios:

1.    Restore. We will be focused on figuring out what to do to get back to where we were before the pandemic.
2.    Evolve. We will be focused on adapting to the new normal.
3.    Transform. We will be focused on redefining our institution and taking an active role in creating the innovative future of higher education.

Whichever strategy you choose, your employees will be significantly affected, for better or worse. I am offering additional analysis to consider as you plan your pandemic emerging strategy so you can answer these questions:

  • What does this mean for my staff?

  • How can I improve the employee experience?

  • How can I become an employer that candidates seek out?


Source: EDUCAUSE Report 2021

RESTORE: Cost management

“Because people constitute the largest proportion of budgets, staffing reductions are inevitable. Leaders will have difficult choices to make and will attempt to do more with fewer FTEs. Technology, of course, is where minds will turn to, and hopes will be pinned on productivity gains through automation and business process reengineering.” 

Institutions and departments that are still tracking employee time, absences, and staffing schedules on paper are in dire need of change. Automating these processes not only increases productivity for the employee, manager, and payroll by removing cumbersome administrative tasks, but also provides leadership data to look for negative trends and patterns that could be wasting money. Without visibility into labor data, problems can go on for years undetected.

EVOLVE: Information security

“The move to completely remote education, research, and work will become permanent in many aspects. These changes can offer institutions a competitive advantage, whether it helps them attract better talent or enables them to act more innovatively with their education, student services, research, and even healthcare operations. To evolve to the new normal, institutions should consider adding infrastructure and services to support secure collaboration and learning tools as well as keeping track of all the places that data may be stored, transmitted, or used.”

Research is essential to many institutions and departments therein. The ability to track work to assigned projects and people allows institutions to stay compliant with funding agencies and their reporting requirements. The pandemic may have changed some researchers to remote, but it didn't change the need to accurately track time. Moving to an automated Cloud solution, like UKG for Higher Education, provides a secure setting to continue meeting requirements of funding sources.

TRANSFORM: Technology alignment

“One of the biggest and perhaps most lasting changes from the pandemic has been to elevate the role of information technology. Remote work may help institutions operate more efficiently and attract better and more diverse academic and administrative talent.”

IT leaders in institutions across the world have spent many years being reactive to situations that require technology "intervention." But now, IT leaders are realizing they are in a position to encourage and be advisors to the growing needs placed on institutions to get through the pandemic and beyond. Workforce management automation takes away the transactional pieces of tracking employees, but it also transforms the way employees engage with their employer. Employees have a great sense of ownership and control over their work/life balance when they don't always have to call HR for simple answers, like accrual balances and timecard edits.

BOTTOM LINE: Change is needed

Institutions that are still tracking employee time, absences, and schedules on paper are in dire need of change. Not only does workforce management automation help better manage costs and improve productivity, existing and future employees need the work/life balance that only technology can offer.

Learn how using automated workforce data to support decision-making results in better employee management practices and more effective stewardship of campus resources.

Check it out here.