London School of Economics and Political Science
LSE has transformed its business processes and made life easier for staff and students by adopting Software as a Service (SaaS)
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is synonymous with prestige and intellectual excellence in the higher education sphere. Eighteen Nobel Prize winners have taught or studied at LSE, and the institution has a track record of producing world-leading social science research.
Located in the centre of one of the world’s most culturally and financially significant cities, LSE is ranked second globally for social science and management subjects and supports an internationally-diverse community of more than 12,000 students and 4,000 staff.
LSE was using multiple, legacy financial and business management systems that were complex, hard to use, and costly to maintain.
LSE’s Assistant Director of Finance and Head of Financial Systems, Keith Adams, said the complicated environment and aged implementation meant the university had undertaken a lot of work to address problems.
“It was a very complex, manual and paper-based environment. We had separate software for various processes, connected by many integrations that needed regular, time-consuming maintenance to ensure data could pass between them,” Adams said.
“The solution was no longer functional enough for our needs and we lacked visibility. That meant employees spent too much time on manual tasks and processes lacked clarity.
“We wanted to make improvements so that we could move away from desktop working and achieve a single source of truth.”
LSE wanted the flexibility of an integrated solution to simplify its processes and offer a better experience for both staff and students.
“Our objective was to transition to a modern, responsive, and user-friendly financial system,” Adams said.
“We wanted to reduce the time spent completing transactional tasks—allowing time to focus on core research, teaching and professional service activities. Also, we wanted to enhance the way in which students view and pay their fees.”
After a competitive process in which the university asked vendors to present their ‘best practice’ approach, the university chose TechnologyOne’s OneEducation SaaS solution. OneEducation is used by 60 per cent of higher and vocational education institutions across Australasia to improve the experience of more than 1.4 million students.
“It was an easy decision to partner with TechnologyOne, because they were the only supplier who could deliver a truly innovative, integrated enterprise SaaS solution,” Adams said.
TechnologyOne’s solution scored highest when assessed on nearly 1,000 different points, including the university’s functional, process and data security requirements.
Adams added: “TechnologyOne’s continuous investment in its product was also important, and made us feel confident they could deliver.”
It was an easy decision to partner with TechnologyOne, because they were the only supplier who could deliver a truly innovative, integrated enterprise SaaS solution.
LSE implemented the OneEducation SaaS solution in August 2019 to consolidate and streamline management of its financials, procurement and budgeting.
“Moving to an enterprise SaaS solution has allowed us to operate more efficiently and achieve consistent business processes and workflows across functions,” Adams said.
“We’ve modernised manual procurement processes by introducing online catalogues; punch-outs to key suppliers; made online expense management available so staff can use it on-the-go; and enabled all staff to work remotely.”
According to Adams, the university has organisation-wide visibility through a flexible chart of accounts, project ledger, and self-service reporting tools.
“Now we have one finance and reporting solution that is integrated, which means the data is available in real-time and it's indisputable.”
LSE also leveraged OneEducation to offer digital self-service, making it easier for students to pay their fees.
“Previously, we were managing all of our students’ residential and tuition-related fees, accounts and the associated interactions separately,” said Adams.
“Students now have a combined, single fee account which they can access via one screen. As a result, we’ve had a large uptake of students using the portal compared to our previous solution.”
All employees have benefitted from mobile access to the system, particularly research staff who travel extensively. The solution’s anywhere, any time, any device functionality also came to the fore when LSE campuses closed in early 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
LSE’s Director of Finance, Mike Ferguson, said moving to a SaaS platform prior to the impact of COVID-19 allowed the university to be more adaptable and resilient.
“We’ve been on a digital transformation journey for some time. But over these last few weeks the ability to get work done anywhere, any time---which only SaaS can deliver---has changed from being something that was just part of an overall strategy to a mission critical requirement and without it we simply could not have continued financial operations without significant risk,” Ferguson said.
The ability to get work done anywhere, any time---which only SaaS can deliver--- has changed from being something that was just part of an overall strategy to a mission critical requirement.
London School of Economics and Political Science updated legacy systems that had been in place for 20 years when they adopted TechnologyOne’s OneEducation SaaS solution.
“There were lots of stakeholders and requirements, so change management was an important variable for us,” LSE’s Keith Adams said.
“Moving from a system we’d had for so long is a bit of a culture shock, but the change was well received by our staff and students because they like the modern look and feel of the new solution.”
Adams said that despite the significant size and scale of the project—the biggest he’d undertaken during his tenure at LSE—TechnologyOne’s guidance ensured a great result.
“TechnologyOne brought a well-defined project management approach, and excellent consultants who got on well with our in-house team, which ensured there was continuity throughout the project.”
The university rolled out core features initially and kept a TechnologyOne consultant on-board to further develop the solution.
“As we continue to make more functionality available within the system we expect this will keep making life better for our staff, improving the value of team members' jobs so they can focus on higher-value activities,” Adams said.
Drawing on the know-how of one vendor at every stage of their digital transformation was reassuring for LSE.
“TechnologyOne’s ‘Power of One’ model was also important to us. They weren’t just selling the software to us, they were going to implement it, and help us optimise and grow the product’s functionality into the future,” Adams said.
“The quality of the support is good: we’ve had the same TechnologyOne consultants since the beginning and they really understand our business.
“These projects are complex and the full benefits may be realised until a few years in, so it’s important to be committed to the long term and choose your partner carefully.”
TechnologyOne is a leading SaaS ERP vendor with global reach and education expertise built on more than 30 years’ experience delivering proven higher education solutions in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
LSE has created a more agile and productive workplace on TechnologyOne’s SaaS platform.
“By being available any time, anywhere and on any device, it has enabled us to create an environment that allows efficient and modern ways of working for our people, freeing staff up to work on more value-added activities for the university,” Adams said.
“There’s a lot of talk about how remote working will be more popular once COVID-19 is over—and we’re already ahead of the game.”
Adams added that TechnologyOne’s ongoing support for the SaaS solution ensures the university’s systems are more dependable, with less effort.
“We’re not the biggest university, but we are international—so we need 24/7 uptime and support.
“It’s important for us to keep up-to-date with the latest upgrades. TechnologyOne takes care of the IT maintenance and upgrade process for us, allowing the university to focus on its core business.”
TechnologyOne’s UK SaaS Platform Director Johnathan Williamson said LSE was reaping the benefits of TechnologyOne’s partnership with leading cloud platform provider Amazon Web Services’ (AWS).
“By leveraging the power of AWS’ secure and scalable architecture to achieve a true SaaS model, we’ve helped London School of Economics and Political Science simplify their IT infrastructure and optimise system performance,” Williamson said.
“That’s allowed a fast transition to superior experiences for academics, staff and students—and because our elastic SaaS solution will evolve to keep pace with technological change, it also helps future-proof LSE’s systems.”
About London School of Economics
London School of Economics is unique in its concentration on teaching and research across the full range of social, political and economic sciences.
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