1. Cut Costs with Virtualization and Other Cost-Effective Strategies
First, think virtualization. “The focus here is to conserve cash,” Beaverson said. There are a variety of ways to achieve this, including:
- Virtualizing IT environments
- Extending hardware lifecycles
- Renegotiating services contracts
- Reviewing and updating cloud usage
However, Beaverson warned against slashing costs for a short-term benefit that could have a long-term impact. “Weigh the risk. You don’t want to reduce service levels to an unacceptable point,” he said.
2. Leverage Process Work and Automation to Optimize Operations
There are two main approaches, said Beaverson: process improvement and automation. This is an opportunity to collaborate outside of IT and pull people in from other areas of campus who may have more experience implementing process improvements.
Automation, on the other hand, “falls squarely within IT, and there’s many ways to automate,” such as the ServiceNow platform, Beaverson said. For example, human resources workflows (like onboarding employees) could work well with automation.
3. Take a Big-Picture Approach to Rationalize Portfolios
What’s particularly important in looking at portfolios, Beaverson said, is gaining an understanding of the true savings.
“We encourage customers to do a rapid assessment to understand what the opportunity is,” he said. “You may be able to reduce your application portfolio, but if you have already paid for the licenses … you may just have minimal costs saved. You may decide the investment to get to that smaller savings is not worth it.”
4. Innovate, Transform and Grow in Key Campus Areas
Strategies in this area are all about providing additional value within 18 months or so. Given the pandemic, some of this may have already occurred on your campus through initiatives around remote learning. However, there might be other types of digital transformation initiatives that make sensible investments.
Don’t forget to also consider customer-facing touchpoints, such as your learning management systems, content development and collaboration capabilities, particularly given the current pandemic-related circumstances under which most colleges are operating. “If you have not refreshed your strategy and addressed all three of these, we’d certainly encourage you to do so,” Beaverson said.
It’s important to note that while 2020 has turned scenario-planning on its head, it’s not a reason to throw that important tool out the window. Beaverson pointed to two probable scenarios that colleges can realistically consider now: one that brings students back to campus in large numbers and one that requires remote learning well into the future.
“If we can develop these types of scenarios given certain probable outcomes and futures,” Beaverson said, “we’re in a much better position to understand where we invest, how we invest, how we scale up and how we scale down.”
Read more of our EDUCAUSE 2020 coverage here.