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The people component: Why higher education institutions should focus on staff when implementing an ERP system


The relationship between people, processes, and technology is as elemental as earth—and older than civilization. From the first sharpened rock to the Internet of Things, the three have been crucially intertwined and interdependent. There would have been no Industrial Revolution, for instance, without entrepreneurs who developed new tools to facilitate new manufacturing methods.

Of course, the increasing complexity of processes and the rapid innovations in technology tend to eclipse the present role that people play in progress. On the surface the trend seems understandable, even reasonable, when it comes to implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Implementing a new ERP system is one of the most daunting projects an institution can undertake. Some sobering statistics—over 70% of all implementations take longer than planned, while over 50% go over budget—illustrate why many institutions focus on selecting the right ERP model and purchasing the right software. This is important, yet there are two excellent and connected reasons why your institution should focus on the “people component” of an ERP implementation.

Reason #1: The Technology is Tenable

Companies have improved and vetted ERP systems over time, so that today there’s little chance your institution will purchase poorly designed ERP software. And you have multiple options. For example, you could pursue a hosted ERP model in which a data center houses your ERP system, or a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, in which a third party administers your ERP software. These options help minimize hardware implementation, maintenance, and incomplete attempts at full system utilization—which in turn saves you time, money, and headaches.

In short: You won’t have to bear the full brunt of the tech burden, and the software and hardware you purchase should work. This enables you to concentrate on the people component of the system.

Reason #2: People Propel the Processes

A higher education institution can optimize an ERP system to complete countless processes: automating registration, onboarding staff, processing financial aid, improving self-service capabilities, simplifying record-keeping, etc. Yet a system can’t do all this on its own (not yet, at least). People—both functional and IT staff—propel these processes. For this to happen, your institution needs to secure buy-in and equip people with vision, training, and resources.

People are wary of ERP projects, for good reason. When an institution decides to tackle an ERP implementation the onus often falls on already busy staff, some of whom may rather find a new career than manage a new system implementation. Your staff and their institutional knowledge are your greatest assets. It is important to empower staff to define how future-state business processes should work—and for you to remember that a common reason for ERP implementation failure is lack of engagement. Sometimes, those at the executive level make decisions without adequate input from the people who actually do the work. You will need to sharpen your “people skills” in order to educate stakeholders on the value of a new ERP system, and how the software will make their day-to-day roles and responsibilities more efficient and effective. To ensure that staff have the bandwidth to engage in this change, it is advisable to provide backfill for key administrative functions.

Designing business processes of a future-state system is arguably the most challenging part of an ERP implementation. Often, stakeholders don’t understand the new functionality that a future system can offer because they have only used the prior system. It is important to engage the ERP vendor early and educate your staff to ensure that they understand the possibilities when designing future-state processes.

Once you have designed processes, training should take center stage. And once again, people play a pivotal role in this process. Modern ERP systems usually require staff to fundamentally conduct business differently; this can require training not only on the new system, but also on other foundational technologies (e.g., the office suite) not relied upon before. It is important to identify these needs and incorporate them into your institution’s training plan up front.

An effective training plan needs to balance multiple types of training, ranging from formal classroom sessions to online learning and train-the-trainer sessions. Tech-savvy staff will be able to train other staff in using the new ERP system, which will not only increase the skill sets of said staff, but will also help them better understand how their roles fit within the larger picture of the institution. This, in turn, will organically improve communication and workflow, as well as lead to more collaboration and teamwork. The result: positive institution-wide change.

Moving Forward

Think about your institution’s focus when implementing a new ERP system—and be aware of the benefits that it could have for your staff, your students, and your bottom line. You will face other ERP-related challenges, such as selecting the right third-party vendor and facilitating change management. If you’d like to discuss some strategies for tackling these challenges, this process is easy—just send me an email.

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Read this if you are interested in artificial intelligence (AI).

Everyone is talking about AI right now. With the technology accelerating so fast, companies and individuals are struggling to figure out the impacts: Will it be helpful for businesses? Will it be harmful for employees? Will it change the way we work? 

The thought leaders at BerryDunn have been exploring the technology and ways it may benefit our clients moving forward—both for accounting services and for broader consulting services. Here are five reasons we're optimistic about the future of AI in business. 

  1. AI has the potential to complete menial, time-consuming, and error-prone tasks faster and more accurately.
    BerryDunn’s Kathy Parker, Practice Leader for the firm’s Outsourced Accounting Group, recently shared her thoughts with MassCPAs, stating that “Our approach to clients has always been to act as their consultant and advisor, and AI won't change that. What we are starting to see is that AI software has the potential to reduce the manual work we do, which will free up time so we can do what we do best. I expect that AI will start to take care of things more reliably like automatic scanning, basic tax preparation, and some functions that take up a lot of staff time.” 
  2. AI may free up resources so businesses can be more strategic.
    AI can help complete time-consuming tasks, saving time and staff resources to focus on more strategic initiatives. Parker is excited to think about adding more value to her clients by providing more strategic planning, benchmarking, and advisory services that will contribute to their success. She shared that “Clients are starting to recognize that AI can reduce the burden on accountants, and they're beginning to expect more from us. They don't just want our calculations, they want our expertise, and that's fantastic. Clients want to know how they compare with their competitors, and they want to know how to be proactive about their growth. They want dashboards to be able to easily see where they stand and they're looking for more sophisticated deliverables.”
  3. AI could reduce the price of some services. 
    Parker also shared her view of how AI may affect prices for services such as tax and accounting. “Businesses may also expect to see a different fee schedule, given the potential reduced workload that AI could bring. Of course, that reduced workload will allow service providers to raise the bar in other, potentially more significant, areas of their business.”
  4. AI could improve decision making for businesses.
    Tucker Cutter, a Senior Manager with BerryDunn’s higher education consulting team, believes that AI has the potential to significantly improve decision making for any business. His work focuses on the nexus of technology and people, helping higher ed institutions manage large-scale digital transformation projects. “I’m looking forward to seeing how AI will help us provide high quality decision-making guidance through enhanced data analysis and predictive analytics,” he shared. Once tools have been vetted and tested to prove their accuracy and reliability, AI has the potential to analyze data much faster than could be done manually by humans.
  5. Clarity on the best use cases for AI will emerge.
    If you’re not inclined to be an early adopter, know that you’re not alone. Just as with any other technological revolution, there are still a lot of unknowns. It makes sense to be cautious, especially when you’re dealing with sensitive data. As the dust settles, you’ll be able to learn from the experience of early adopters about what works and what doesn’t. At BerryDunn, our consultants are keeping an eye on the technology and how it may impact processes, systems, and outcomes. 

    Cutter shared his approach to staying current on AI technologies so he can advise his clients, stating that “We need to understand how to use these platforms and tools as well as stay well-versed in AI/technology governance strategies. For the good of our clients, we are still responsible for keeping data strategy at the forefront even if it’s not top-of-mind for our clients.” Clarity won’t emerge overnight, but in the coming months and years, we’re confident that a healthy balance between what’s best for business and what’s best for people will be possible. 
Five reasons to be optimistic about AI: Perspectives from consulting and accounting

Read this if you are planning or are involved in an Enterprise Resource Planning or Student Information System implementation.

Trends in the Enterprise Resource Planning/Student Information System (ERP/SIS) marketplace have seen the emergence of vendors offering full-suite solutions, often supplemented by third-party systems and applications to meet functional needs. Institutions seeking to modernize their systems are now faced with a smorgasbord of software options that can be challenging to evaluate effectively. 

Institutions have the opportunity to reconsider traditional approaches to enterprise systems and implementations based on individual needs and circumstances. While ERP/SIS vendors will continue to provide full-suite solutions for student, HR, and financial operations, institutions can also choose to implement software from multiple vendors best suited for each of these functional areas. 

Moving to a single enterprise-wide system represents a tremendous amount of change. Likewise, implementing and utilizing multiple vendors’ enterprise solutions requires robust integration and data management strategies. The risk of resistance to change by people is significant, regardless of the approach your institution takes to an enterprise system implementation. 

How you address that risk can make all the difference between an effective implementation and a challenging one. Prosci® has a risk assessment tool that looks at two questions you can answer to address change management on the project: 

  • The scope of the change. Is the change small, incremental, or large and disruptive? 
  • The culture of the institution (organizational attributes). Is your institution ready for change or is it change resistant?

Based on the answers to these two questions, you can plot a course for your change management based on whether the change is high, medium, or low risk. 

ERP/SIS implementation risks to address

  1. Complex data migration and integration 
    Higher education technology environments typically involve vast amounts of data from various sources, systems, and applications. Migrating and integrating this data into a new ERP/SIS can be challenging, especially if the data is inconsistent, outdated, or stored in multiple formats. Data quality issues, data loss, or incorrect data mapping present high risks to the project's success from a change perspective during and after implementation.
  2. Resistance to change 
    Higher education institutions often have established processes, workflows, and a culture that may be resistant to change. Faculty, staff, and administrators may be accustomed to legacy systems and may resist adopting new technologies and processes.
    Overcoming this resistance and effectively managing change is critical for the success of an ERP/SIS implementation and requires institutions to understand their culture and personal acceptance to change. How do employees remember past changes? How adept is your management team at leading through change? 

    While the scope of the project is often front of mind, leaders may overlook these very important aspects of your culture. 

    In our experience, many institutions have cultures that are change-resistant, particularly if their workforce has been in place for a long time and has not replaced enterprise systems recently.
    Many people in your institution may only know the way they have always done things and may not have had exposure to another ERP/SIS system. This sets people up to be inherently nervous and even fearful of what a new system may mean for their day-to-day work and job security.
  3. Configuration and scope creep
    ERP/SIS implementations can be highly configurable to meet the specific needs of the institution. However, excessive configurations and integrations can lead to scope creep, where the project becomes more complex and costly than initially planned. 

    Balancing configuration with data management and budgetary needs and timelines is a significant challenge. Additionally, extensive configuration can lead to long-term maintenance challenges and software updates becoming difficult. 

    Over the course of an ERP/SIS implementation, these efforts can lead to change saturation, which Prosci® defines “as disruptive changes exceed your capacity to adopt them.” For higher education, the last three years have been a lesson in extreme change saturation. People are tired, burned out, and ready for more stability and less change.

Mitigating the risks of an ERP/SIS implementation

When you combine a complex technology environment, change-resistant culture, and significant scope, you have created an environment that makes it very challenging to implement a new ERP/SIS. As a senior leader about to embark on an ERP/SIS project, what should you do? 

  1. Start change management now 
  2. Select an active project sponsor
  3. Build an effective leadership team 
  4. Enable Data Governance
  5. Be an active and visible leadership team 
  6. Identify and engage supervisors and influencers
  7. Use vendor backlog to start change management sooner
  8. Monitor your change management activities carefully and repeat the processes that prove most effective
  9. Celebrate early and often

If you have questions about your specific situation or want to know more about change management, please contact our Higher Education team. We’re here to help.

Higher education: Managing risk and change in ERP/SIS implementation 

Read this if you are in healthcare information technology.

Professionals that work in healthcare information technology understand that a good superuser is one of the most important parts of implementing a new system or process. However, for many departmental leaders, especially those in smaller organizations, finding superusers can be difficult. Leaders feel they have no other choice but to volunteer their team members that have worked in the department the longest, are good at using the current system, or have schedules that work for project meetings and timelines.

Over many years of implementing electronic health records in all manner and size of healthcare organizations, I have found that, too often, selecting superusers solely based on these criteria leads to superuser disengagement over time—and even resentment. The resentment typically stems from “voluntold” superusers experiencing unexpected levels of intellectual and emotional effort paired with rapidly progressing project timelines, all in addition to their normal work schedules.

The good news? The risk of disengagement and resentment significantly decreases when superusers opt into the opportunity with the right expectations for what success entails.    

Defining and understanding the superuser role

To reframe the superuser role as an opportunity and not a “voluntold” assignment, it is important to understand a superuser’s day-to-day responsibilities. While these responsibilities are central to a superuser’s role, some of them are overlooked or taken for granted by project leadership when looking for help in the superuser role. What are superusers?

  • Superusers are change agents
    Superusers will utilize their departmental knowledge and advanced training to guide end-users on how to use the new system or process while focusing on the benefits. They do this by reinforcing training and organizational policies, while highlighting the improvements of the new system or process.
  • Superusers are trained experts
    Superusers typically receive early exposure to, and training in, the new system by participating in system design meetings and process testing. When superusers are engaged early in the project, they gain a deeper understanding of the system and can more adequately support their departmental objectives, end-user needs, and organizational goals.
  • Superusers are leaders
    Superusers serve as a bridge between end-users and project leadership and are often being asked to attend leadership meetings to help design and implement resolutions to end-user and organizational issues.
  • Superusers are effective communicators
    When changes to a system or process happen, superusers are responsible for understanding the impact of those changes on their departmental processes, communicating the changes to end-users, and providing end-user support related to the changes. Superusers also communicate successes and struggles of the changes to project leadership.
  • Superusers are advocates for their department
    Superusers will use their departmental knowledge, advanced system training, position, and communication skills to advocate for their department and end-users when decisions or processes may negatively impact productivity and departmental standards, or require more time to adopt than given by leadership.

Best practices to recruit a super superuser

Throughout dozens of implementations over the years, I have found that many organizations and vendors tend to recruit superusers as an afterthought to many other project needs. This means they do not sufficiently prioritize the selection and orientation of superusers. Planning superuser recruitment and clearly defining the role are critical steps in recruiting successful and driven superusers—leading to better project outcomes.

  • Clearly define the superuser role
    Before recruiting superusers, it is important to clearly define the role and responsibilities they will have. Outline a clear set of expectations and requirements for the position so that potential superusers can understand what is expected of them.
  • Focus on the opportunities
    When defining the superuser role, it is also important to highlight the leadership, advocacy, and support responsibilities the role will have to entice those staff who are interested in not only being strong team players but also enriching their professional development.
  • Train soft skills
    Supporting end-users can be a challenging experience, especially when the end-users are resistant to change, chronic nay-sayers, or have become jaded in their work. Providing soft skill training can help superusers to work with these end-users in a positive and emotionally intelligent way.
  • Reach out to existing users
    Recruiting staff that have used the system in another organization can have multiple benefits. Among the most valuable is their familiarity with the benefits and challenges their previous organization experienced, leading to advanced mitigation of potential problem areas.
  • Promote the program within the company
    Sharing the superuser program publicly reaches a wider audience and can generate excitement about being involved. Social media also gives a platform for spotlighting the efforts of superusers and how they are helping to improve the organization.
  • Highlight personal and professional enrichment
    The success of a superuser leads to the success of their peers and overall improved patient care. Focusing on how a superuser can provide long-term benefits to the organization, their peers, and community through their work and dedication can be a powerful recruitment tool.
  • Offer incentives
    Offering desirable incentives can help to motivate superusers to continue even when project tasks require more effort than expected. Approved overtime, additional vacation days, and a bonus program with clear achievement goals are just a few examples of ways that project leadership can show investment in the superuser program.


Too often, healthcare organizations that embark on implementing a new system select superusers based on outdated methods. By clearly defining and highlighting the wide variety of responsibilities of the superuser and establishing powerful recruitment tools, an organization can develop their superusers into future leaders and advocates for positive change throughout the organization. If you have questions about the superuser role or a specific question about your situation, please contact our Healthcare IT Consulting team. We’re here to help.

Reframing the EHR superuser role: Things to consider

Read this if you are an IT Leader, CFO, COO, or other C-suite leader responsible for selecting a new system.

Vendor demonstrations are an important milestone in the vendor selection process for organizations assessing new software systems. Demonstrations allow you to validate what a vendor’s software is capable of, evaluate the usability with your own eyes, and confirm the fit to your organization’s objectives.

Pre-COVID-19, such demonstrations would generally take place in person. During the middle of COVID-19, remote demos were the only option. Today, organizations have choices between in-person or remote demos. Given staffing challenges and vendor schedules, remote demos can be more efficient and flexible and are a choice worth considering.

Here are some of the key success factors and lessons learned we found conducting and completing remote demonstrations.

  1. Prepare thoroughly for your remote software demo
    Establish a clear agenda, schedule, script, and plan prior to demonstrations. This helps keep everyone coordinated throughout the demos.
  2. Test the software vendor’s videoconference system
    It’s important to test the vendor’s videoconference solution from all locations prior to the demonstrations. We test with vendors a week in advance.
  3. Establish ground rules for the demo
    Establishing ground rules enhances meeting effectiveness, efficiency, and timeliness. For example, should questions be asked as they come up, or should participants wait until the speaker pauses? Should the chat function be utilized instead?
  4. Have clear roles by location
    Clear roles help to facilitate the demonstration. Designated timekeepers, scribes, and local facilitators help the demonstration go smoothly, and decrease communication issues.
  5. Be close to the microphone
    This is common sense, but when you’re in a virtual environment and you may not be on screen, be sure that you’re close to the microphone and are speaking clearly so everyone can hear you.
  6. Ask vendors to build in pauses to allow for questions
    Since vendors may not be able to see a hand raised, asking vendors to build specific pauses into their demonstrations allows space for questions to be asked easily. Consider designating a team member to monitor for hands raised and to interject so that a question can be asked in a timely manner.
  7. Do a virtual debrief
    At the end of each vendor demonstration, we have our own virtual meeting set up to facilitate a debrief. This allows us to capture the evaluation notes of the day prior to the next demo. Planning these in advance and having them on people’s calendars makes joining the meetings quick and seamless.

Observations and other lessons learned from remote vendor demos

After facilitating many remote software vendor demos, we’ve identified these lessons learned unique to virtual demos. 

Visibility is actually better with remote demos
Virtual demos allow everyone to see the demo on their own screen, which actually makes it easier to see than if you were doing the demo on-site. 

Different virtual platforms require orientation
We want vendors to use the tools they are accustomed to using, which means we need to use different products for different demonstrations. This is not insurmountable, but requires orientation to get used to their tools at the start of each demo.

Establishing the order in which team members provide feedback is useful
It’s helpful to establish an order in which participants speak and share their thoughts. This limits talking over each other and allows everyone to hear the thoughts of their peers clearly.

Staying engaged takes effort
Sitting all day on a remote demo and paying attention requires effort to stay engaged. Building in specific times for Q&A, calling on people by name, and designing the day with breaks can help people stay engaged all day.

Remote software demos can be highly successful, accomplish your goals, and help you meet critical timing milestones. We’ve found that post-COVID-19 when remote demos follow the guidelines above, they are often more efficient and engaging than if they had been conducted on-site. If you need assistance in implementing a healthcare IT solution, our team would be happy to help. Learn about our services. 

Hosting efficient and engaging remote vendor demonstrations for software solutions

Read this if you are planning for, or are in the process of implementing a new software solution.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is more than just another step in the implementation of a software solution. It can verify system functionality, increase the opportunity for a successful project, and create additional training opportunities for your team to adapt to the new software quickly. Independent verification through a structured user acceptance plan is essential for a smooth transition from a development environment to a production environment. 

Verification of functionality

The primary purpose of UAT is to verify that a system is ready to go live. Much of UAT is like performing a pre-flight checklist on an aircraft. Wings... check, engines... check, tires... check. A structured approach to UAT can verify that everything is working prior to rolling out a new software system for everyone to use. 

To hold vendors accountable for their contractual obligations, we recommend an agency test each functional and technical requirement identified in the statement of work portion of their contract. 

It is also recommended that the agency verify the functional and technical requirements that the vendor replied positivity to in the RFP for the system you are implementing. 

Easing the transition to a new software

Operational change management (OCM) is a term that describes a methodology for making the switch to a new software solution. Think of implementing a new software solution like learning a new language. For some employees, the legacy software solution is the only way they know how to do their job. Like learning a new language, changing the way business and learning a new software can be a challenging and scary task. The benefits outweigh the anxiety associated with learning a new language. You can communicate with a broader group of people, and maybe even travel the world! This is also true for learning a new software solution; there are new and exciting ways to perform your job.

Throughout all organizations there will be some employees resistant to change. Getting those employees involved in UAT can help. By involving them in testing the new system and providing feedback prior to implementation, they will feel ownership and be less likely to resist the change. In our experience, some of the most resistant employees, once involved in the process, become the biggest champions of the new system.  

Training and testing for better results

On top of the OCM and verification benefits a structured UAT can accomplish, UAT can be a great training opportunity. An agency needs to be able to perform actions of the tested functionality. For example, if an agency is testing a software’s ability to import a document, then a tester needs to be trained on how to do that task. By performing this task, the tester learns how to login to the software, navigate the software, and perform tasks that the end user will be accomplishing in their daily use of the new software. 

Effective UAT and change management

We have observed agencies that have installed software that was either not fully configured or the final product was not what was expected when the project started. The only way to know that software works how you want is to test it using business-driven scenarios. BerryDunn has developed a UAT process, customizable to each client, which includes a UAT tracking tool. This process and related tool helps to ensure that we inspect each item and develop steps to resolve issues when the software doesn’t function as expected. 

We also incorporate change management into all aspects of a project and find that the UAT process is the optimal time to do so. Following established and proven approaches for change management during UAT is another opportunity to optimize implementation of a new software solution. 

By building a structured approach to UAT, you can enjoy additional benefits, as additional training and OCM benefits can make the difference between forming a positive or a negative reaction to the new software. By conducting a structured and thorough UAT, you can help your users gain confidence in the process, and increase adoption of the new software. 

Please contact the team if you have specific questions relating to your specific needs, or to see how we can help your agency validate the new system’s functionality and reduce resistance to the software. We’re here to help.   

User Acceptance Testing: A plan for successful software implementation

The BerryDunn Recovery Advisory Team has compiled this guide to COVID-19 consulting resources for state and local government agencies and higher education institutions.

We have provided a list of our consulting services related to data analysis, CARES Act funding and procurement, and legislation and policy implementation. Many of these services can be procured via the NASPO ValuePoint Procurement Acquisition Support Services contract.


We're here to help.
If you have any questions, please contact us at

COVID-19 consulting resources

Read this if you are a CIO, CFO, Provost, or President at a higher education institution.

In my conversations with CIO friends over the past weeks, it is obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of change for institutions. Information technology is the underlying foundation for supporting much of this change, and as such, IT leaders face a variety of new demands now and into the future. Here are important considerations going forward.

Swift impact to IT and rapid response

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on higher education. At the onset of this pandemic, institutions found themselves quickly pivoting to work from home (WFH), moving to remote campus operations, remote instruction within a few weeks, and in some cases, a few days. Most CIOs I spoke with indicated that they were prepared, to some extent, thanks to Cloud services and online class offerings already in place—it was mostly a matter of scaling the services across the entire campus and being prepared for returning students and faculty on the heels of an extended spring break.

Services that were not in place required creative and rapid deployment to meet the new demand. For example, one CIO mentioned the capability to have staff accept calls from home. The need for softphones to accommodate student service and helpdesk calls at staff homes required rapid purchase, deployment, and training.

Most institutions have laptop loan programs in place but not scaled to the size needed during this pandemic. Students who choose to attend college on campus are now forced to attend school from home and may not have the technology they need. The need for laptop loans increased significantly. Some institutions purchased and shipped laptops directly to students’ homes. 

CIO insights about people

CIOs shared seeing positive outcomes with their staff. Almost all of the CIOs I spoke with mentioned how the pandemic has spawned creativity and problem solving across their organizations. In some cases, past staffing challenges were put on hold as managers and staff have stepped up and engaged constructively. Some other positive changes shared by CIOs:

  • Communication has improved—a more intentional exchange, a greater sense of urgency, and problem solving have created opportunities for staff to get engaged during video calls.
  • Teams focusing on high priority initiatives and fewer projects have yielded successful results. 
  • People feel a stronger connection with each other because they are uniting behind a common purpose.

Perhaps this has reduced the noise that most staff seem to hear daily about competing priorities and incoming requests that seem to never end.

Key considerations and a framework for IT leaders 

It is too early to fully understand the impact on IT during this phase of the pandemic. However, we are beginning to see budgetary concerns that will impact all institutions in some way. As campuses work to get their budgets settled, cuts could affect most departments—IT included. In light of the increased demand for technology, cuts could be less than anticipated to help ensure critical services and support are uninterrupted. Other future impacts to IT will likely include:

  • Support for a longer term WFH model and hybrid options
  • Opportunities for greater efficiencies and possible collaborative agreements between institutions to reduce costs
  • Increased budgets for online services, licenses, and technologies
  • Need for remote helpdesk support, library services, and staffing
  • Increased training needs for collaborative and instructional software
  • Increased need for change management to help support and engage staff in the new ways of providing services and support
  • Re-evaluation of organizational structure and roles to right-size and refocus positions in a more virtual environment
  • Security and risk management implications with remote workers
    • Accessibility to systems and classes 

IT leaders should examine these potential changes over the next three to nine months using a phased approach. The diagram below describes two phases of impact and areas of focus for consideration. 

Higher Education IT Leadership Phases

As IT leaders continue to support their institutions through these phases, focusing on meeting the needs of faculty, staff, and students will be key in the success of their institutions. Over time, as IT leaders move from surviving to thriving, they will have opportunities to be strategic and create new ways of supporting teaching and learning. While it remains to be seen what the future holds, change is here. 

How prepared are you to support your institution? 

If we can help you navigate through these phases, have perspective to share, or any questions, please contact us. We’re here to help.

COVID-19: Key considerations for IT leaders in Higher Ed

Read this if you are a State Medicaid Director, State Medicaid Chief Information Officer, State Medicaid Project Manager, or State Procurement Officer—or if you work on a State Medicaid Enterprise System (MES) certification effort.

On October 24, 2019, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) published the Outcomes-Based Certification (OBC) guidance for the Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) module. Now, CMS is looking to bring the OBC process to the rest of the Medicaid Enterprise. 

The shift from a technical-focused certification to a business outcome-focused approach presents a unique opportunity for states as they begin re-procuring—and certifying—their Medicaid Enterprise Systems (MES).

Once you have defined the scope of your MES project—and know you need to undertake CMS certification—you need to ask “what’s next?” OBC can be a more efficient certification process to secure Federal Financial Participation (FFP).

What does OBC certification entail?

Rethinking certification in terms of business outcomes will require agencies to engage business and operations units at the earliest possible point of the project development process to define the program goals and define what a successful implementation is. One way to achieve this is to consider MES projects in three steps. 

Three steps to OBC evaluation

Step 1: Define outcomes

The first step in OBC planning seems easy enough: define outcomes. But what is an outcome? To answer that, it’s important to understand what an outcome isn’t. An outcome isn’t an activity. Instead, an outcome is the result of the activity. For example, the activity could be procuring an EVV solution. In this instance, an outcome could be that the state has increased the ability to detect fraud, waste, and abuse through increased visibility into the EVV solution.

Step 2: Determine measurements

The second step in the OBC process is to determine what to measure and how exactly you will measure it. Deciding what metrics will accurately capture progress toward the new outcomes may be intuitive and therefore easy to define. For example, a measure might simply be that each visit is captured within the EVV solution.

Increasing the ability to detect fraud, waste, and abuse could simply be measured by the number of cases referred to a Medicaid fraud unit or dollars recovered. However, you may not be able to easily measure that in the short-term. Instead, you may need to determine its measurement in terms of an intermediate goal, like increasing the number of claims checked against new data as a result of the new EVV solution. By increasing the number of checked claims, states can ensure that claims are not being paid for unverified visits. 

Step 3: Frequency and reporting

Finally, the state will need to determine how often to report to measure success. States will need to consider the nuances of their own Medicaid programs and how those nuances fit into CMS’ expectations, including what data is available at what intervals.

OBC represents a fundamental change to the certification process, but it’s important to highlight that OBC isn’t completely unfamiliar territory. There is likely to be some carry-over from the certification process as described in the Medicaid Enterprise Certification Toolkit (MECT) version 2.3. The current Medicaid Enterprise Certification (MEC) checklists serve as the foundation for a more abbreviated set of criteria. New evaluation criteria will look and feel like the criteria of old but are likely to be a fraction of the 741 criteria present in the MECT version 2.3.

OBC offers several benefits to states as you navigate federal certification requirements:

  1. You will experience a reduction in the amount of time, effort, and resources necessary to undertake the certification process. 
  2. OBC refocuses procurement in terms of enhancements to the program, not in new functions. Consequently, states will also be able to demonstrate the benefits that each module brings to the program which can be integral to stakeholder support of each module. 
  3. Early adoption of the OBC process can allow you to play a more proactive role in certification efforts.

Continue to check back for a series of our project case studies. Additionally, if you are considering an OBC effort and have questions, please contact our team. You can read the OBC guidance on the CMS website here

Three steps to outcomes-based certification