5 Questions to Ask Before Moving Your Higher Education BPM to the Cloud

Cheyenne Noelle September 5, 2019 Higher Education

5 Questions to Ask Before Moving Your Higher Education BPM to the Cloud

Becoming user-centric has become paramount for most businesses due to changing market demands. Business leaders and IT departments are investing and scaling their technologies to improve system speed, updates, infrastructure, and ultimately the user experience their organizations deliver. Enterprises seeking to become more user-centric have turned to certain technologies in order to meet increasingly evolving new customer demands. Among the technology that helps these businesses optimize their customer experience strategy is cloud computing.

Pioneers of cloud computing, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006, achieved massive success when startups began seeking ways to disrupt their markets with cloud technology. Companies like Netflix shipped and scaled service offerings with increased reliability and security through the cloud. Since Netflix decided to move to the cloud, PhorMag reports that the company has increased its user base from 10 million users to 16 million, scaling the startup to the mainstream streaming service provider it is today  Today, cloud computing acts as a catalyst for innovation, as it evens the playing field with pay-as-you-go pricing models and enterprise architecture that is accessible to nearly everyone.

Up until the last few years, cloud computing has been primarily innovating enterprises within a business. Sectors outside of corporations, like higher education, have since recognized the potential of extending this user-centric technology to improve existing processes, security, and reliability across the entire organization. Like their business counterparts, higher education institutions want to remain competitive against their constraints and within their markets. Due to many colleges still operating with on-premise and legacy solutions, the higher education sector is ripe for technical optimization. The cloud has become a viable solution for colleges and university boards looking to make the most of their budgets as they implement IT services — not just improving the IT department, but actually optimizing the way these colleges work on a process management level.

What is cloud-based BPM?

Amazon Web Services (AWS), among others, is an example of a cloud provider that stores and manages information. An on-premise solution means that your IT infrastructure is tied to physical equipment. To give a real-world example, instead of saving your spreadsheets and photos on your PC’s hard drive, you can now store that data online without any hardware needed. That is cloud computing in a nutshell.

Now, apply cloud computing to business process management. BPMInstitute.org defines business process management (BPM) as the “definition, improvement and management of a firm’s end-to-end enterprise business processes in order to achieve three outcomes crucial to a performance-based, customer-driven firm: 1) clarity on strategic direction, 2) alignment of the firm’s resources, and 3) increased discipline in daily operations.”

The difference between cloud computing and BPM is that BPM is a methodology, while the cloud is a deployment method of BPM. BPM is a discipline used by enterprises to improve the way they work, typically deployed in one of three ways: cloud, on-premise, or hybrid. BPM is traditionally an on-premise solution for businesses and higher education alike.

The problem with an on-premise BPM solution is its inability to scale with as much flexibility as a hybrid or entirely cloud-based option. Equipment needs recurring attention and requires replacement due to general wear-and-tear, theft, or damage. On the cloud, a university can avoid costs and lost time associated with hardware system maintenance that is typical of on-premise software infrastructure. Since everything operates online, a university can then scale up or down easily to meet ever-changing needs without worrying about hardware maintenance. What might have taken months or years to implement across a university system now happens instantly, with the ability to automate process management.

There are many benefits associated with moving your college’s BPM to the cloud. Ellucian, a leading ERP management suite for the higher education industry, suggests that cloud-based BPM can provide value in multiple ways: leveraging an intelligent workflow platform to better understand student needs, keeping colleges agile to new market changes, provides greater configurations to increase the flexibility to add new programs easily. The processes come together on an orchestrated platform to provide automated, real-time updates to spot inefficiencies, increasing the functionality of the entire university.

The benefits of cloud-based BPM are vast. If cloud is all the rage, then what’s holding some colleges back from making the switch?


The obstacles to cloud BPM implementation

While implementing a cloud-based BPM platform for higher education is simple in terms of technological integration, there are many factors that can slow down the process. Among these include resistance to change, time to implement, accidental commitment to unwanted services, and potential learning curve of staff and faculty.

For Boise State University, their greatest obstacle to switching to cloud technology lied in change management. Forbes went on to explain how getting an entire university system to change the way its staff fundamentally worked required incredible patience, trust, and faith. Jo Ellen DiNucci, the university’s Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration, told Forbes that adapting to a cloud-based solution “means that [Boise State University staff] have the resources to focus much more on analyzing current business processes and making sure they are as efficient as possible.”

For others, the learning curve was the greatest obstacle to moving to a cloud BPM platform. In the case of the University of Wyoming, its faculty played “leapfrog” in technology adaptation. Its legacy systems were so behind that the university took the opportunity to upgrade in a big way: the college went from manual input in Microsoft Excel sheets to an advanced workflow solution in one instant.

While cloud computing is a definitive way to increase potential across the university system, your college may not need to adopt cloud technology in the same way as the colleges listed above. Every university is different, and it’s important not to underestimate the value of your college’s specific needs.

The five questions your college needs to ask before moving to the cloud

Despite the challenges associated with adopting any new technological system, we have taken the time to outline the important processes you need to consider before making your transition. Consider these five important questions to ask when switching your higher education institution over to a cloud-based BPM platform.

  1. Is your university prepared to handle implementing a new system culturally, financially, and technologically?
  2. Does the cloud BPM platform deliver the results your college is looking for?
  3. What amount of control does your institution need over the cloud BPM platform?
  4. Is your budget ready to spend a larger sum upfront to achieve long-term rewards?
  5. Does the cloud BPM integrate and work well with your existing investments, such as DMS, ERP, CMS, and CRM systems?


Other important factors to consider include asking whether or not the software will be used over your entire university ecosystem, rather than just one division. Deloitte warns that years of customizations and integrations with previous vendors may be lost during the switching process or that autonomy over security, data, and other protocol could be jeopardized. Double-checking on user permissions and your company’s needs will help avoid overprovisioning or adopting a solution that isn’t necessary for every department.

Another variable to consider is choosing a cloud-based BPM platform that is both user-friendly to your staff and faculty, inside and outside of the IT department. There are hundreds of vendors available, but not every vendor is easy to design and deploy for non-technical personnel. Your university wants to choose a system that is easy to configure, scale, as well as integrate seamlessly with your existing systems.

It’s easy to get excited about a new deployment medium for your IT department’s technical systems. There are a myriad of mistakes to be made if one is hastily rushing into moving everything into the cloud. For higher education, these mistakes can be expensive and time-consuming for both internal staff and faculty and the student body.

Taking higher education to the next level

The right cloud BPM platform can deliver extraordinary value to a college seeking to make the most of its resources. The cost savings using a cloud BPM is significant; According to Ellucian, the cloud can reduce infrastructure costs by up to 30 to 40 percent. Being proactive about asking these five questions during the buying process will help ensure your university makes the right decision.

Is your higher education ready to elevate its systems to save time, money, and become more efficient? At ProcessMaker, we help university systems like yours reach their full operational potential through our hybrid BPM solutions. Learn more about how we can help you pick the right cloud-based BPM at www.processmaker.com

About ProcessMaker:

ProcessMaker is a low-code business process management and workflow software.  ProcessMaker makes it easy for business analysts to collaborate with IT to automate complex business processes connecting people and existing company systems. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina in the United States, ProcessMaker has a partner network spread across 35 countries on five continents. Hundreds of commercial customers, including many Fortune 100 companies, rely on ProcessMaker to digitally transform their core business processes enabling faster decision making, improved compliance, and better performance. 

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