Building A Roadmap For Technology That Stabilizes, Standardizes And Transforms
In Summer 2019, Saint Francis University set ambitious growth goals: to broaden their reach and serve more students outside of their local, regional presence. They wanted to pursue greater online program offerings and scale their operations to deliver a quality, technology-enabled student experience. Saint Francis quickly recognized the need to strengthen and modernize their technology infrastructure and capabilities to achieve their goals and develop long-term stability. Additionally, the institution was searching for a partner that could support their entire IT department’s rapidly expanding list of daily operations, while also building a long-term strategic roadmap to enable and transform their new digital infrastructure.
In June 2020, Saint Francis partnered with Collegis Education to implement a comprehensive IT managed services solution. At the beginning of the partnership, the global COVID-19 pandemic had already forced closures and remote work, making transition plans and virtual technology needs an immediate priority of the transition. Through the partnership, the university gained access to a wealth of technology expertise and capabilities. Collegis worked collaboratively with university leadership to install a virtual CIO, who oversees both strategic and operational components of the Saint Francis IT department, as well as transition Saint Francis staff to the Collegis technology team in order to support the fully managed services IT partnership.
To begin, Collegis conducted an assessment of key digital infrastructure improvements as well as identifying areas that could provide efficiencies and cost savings. The output was a strategic roadmap providing clarity on major technology transition projects, augmentation of staff, and expansion of student and staff help desk services. Key components of the Collegis managed services solution include: stabilizing the Saint Francis technology infrastructure, standardizing expectations through strong IT governance, and optimizing business processes and infrastructure for increased efficiencies.
At the outset of the partnership, Collegis embarked on a transition plan to retire technology debt by upgrading major platforms while also helping the university to leverage technology in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within just 8 months of partnership, the Collegis team identified and completed a number of major transition projects to stabilize the university’s infrastructure including:
- Completing an upgraded card access system for campus staff and students
- Sunsetting an outdated authentication technology and implementing the more secure, robust Active Directory
- Upgrading the campus-wide WiFi network
To support business continuity and ongoing student needs as a result of the pandemic, Collegis helped the entire university adapt to remote work as needed and transition to hybrid classrooms and virtual technology.
Additionally, the Saint Francis IT help desk transitioned to the Collegis Personal Support Center (PSC) technology support program. Since the partnership began, the PSC has supported a wide variety of support calls while maintaining a high satisfaction rate. In fact, the 6-month average Net Promoter Score is 96.3 – a measure that exceeds most industries’ benchmarks for excellent customer satisfaction. A cornerstone of the Collegis solution has been developing a collaborative, informative IT Steering Committee to support standardization of technology initiatives and awareness of their impact across the entire Saint Francis community. The Collegis virtual CIO works closely with the president’s council, CFO and VP for academic affairs, as well as various leadership groups on campus.
As the partnership nears the one-year anniversary, work has already begun to optimize and transform Saint Francis’s technology landscape. Some of those optimization initiatives include business process assessments to identify automation and efficiency opportunities, streamlining student laptop programs, and implementation of the Microsoft Office 365 suite to increase security and improve the user experience. Overall, the strategic planning and implementation of a long-term technology roadmap has identified efficiencies and a 14 percent cost-savings in the university’s IT budget in the first year, allowing those funds to be reinvested into digital transformation initiatives. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, Collegis also provided strategic technology leadership and recommendations to help deploy CARES Act funds that ensured a smooth transition to remote and hybrid learning delivery, and paved the way for capital projects that will help Saint Francis University continue to transform.