eBusiness in Education

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					eBusiness in Education


Section 1: Case studies

This section contains seven case studies of the adoption of eBusiness in the education sector. In highlighting business principles, planning, implementation, successes and challenges in eBusiness, the case studies will interest educational administrators planning the adoption of eBusiness. The seven case studies provide a broad coverage of the education sector, with two sourced from higher education, two from vocational education and training (VET), two from schools and one from overseas. Each case study provided insights into different aspects of eBusiness, as follows.

Table 1.1 : Case studies in the report
Case Studies
Queensland University of Technology Securities Institute Australia TAFE Victoria MIS eBusiness Project

State/ Aspect of eBusiness Territory Higher QLD Integrated eBusiness Education across an organisation
Higher NSW Education VET VIC Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Strategic planning for eBusiness across a State network eProcurement in a VET institution Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in schools eProcurement in the school sector


Douglas Mawson Institute VET of Technology/SA Govt Tasmanian Schools


Schools TAS

ACT Schools University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Schools ACT Inter national

California, International good practice USA

1.1 Integrated eBusiness: Queensland University of Technology
The following eBusiness case study of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) highlights the comprehensive planning involved in order to avoid the pitfall of creating islands of technologies and applications. QUT’s planning includes a strong emphasis on integrating information and communications technologies used for administration with the technologies used to provide student services. To achieve this integration, the University decided not to purchase a suite of technologies from the one manufacturer – for instance, an enterprise resource planning solution. Instead, the university developed a policy of purchasing the ‘best of breed’ technology that suits particular needs within the organisation. Each new item of technology is integrated with other, existing technologies, to fit with a strategic plan for information technology within the university. The following case study will be of interest to every institution wanting to leverage off a collaborative platform to optimise the return on its investment of time, effort and funds in eBusiness.

Cluster of strategies
QUT’s integrated approach to eBusiness is not only based on its coordinated handling of technology. A key to the change processes undertaken within QUT is the view that eBusiness is seen as a business reform issue, not an information technology issue. The university is determined to break down any ‘silo’ mentality, to develop a cohesive, collaborative approach to eBusiness. It has managed to achieve this collaboration with the support of staff and for the benefit of its students. The University built its eBusiness development program around a cluster of technology-based and human resource management strategies. • First, the data-warehouse was constructed to work reliably on the University Intranet. • Then, productive relationships were established and continue with the suppliers of best of breed technology. • Next, a specific challenge to improve tutorial allocation for the largest faculty was met by making the procedures electronic. • To guide decision making, a strategic framework and policies were developed. • The Vice Chancellor then focused staff attention on identifying processes that could be developed or refined, to improve services for students. • Two of the largest divisions in the University, Information and Academic Services and Administrative Services work together and continue to collaborate closely on eBusiness. • In every new project, rigorous governance is provided for eBusiness initiatives through the use of project management techniques.


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


Case Study 1.1: Queensland University of Technology
In 1989 the Queensland Institute of Technology, formed in 1849, was redesignated a university and in 1990 the former Brisbane College of Advanced Education became part of the new Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The university now has 30,000 equivalent full-time students, making it one of the largest universities in Australia. Its 4,000 staff members are spread across three campuses - one in the central business district and two in the metropolitan area of Brisbane - increasing the need for fast, easy and efficient electronic communication.

QUT’s vision is to become one of the pre-eminent universities of technology in the Asia-Pacific region and it sees information technology as a key determinant in achieving this goal. As a university of technology, QUT naturally has focused on the use of technology to improve services for students. The university established an online student and staff service initially called Data warehouse and relaunched as QUT Virtual in 1999 to provide a range of online services and is now developing an extensive eBusiness framework to guide change.

Description of the QUT eBusiness systems
QUT’s eBusiness initiatives and plans cover the three domains of eBusiness: in the back office, for functions such as administration, in the front office for services such as the provision of online learning, and with external suppliers, for instance, for eProcurement and for transmitting data to DEST. The focus of this case study is on two of the core initiatives: • The development of an expanded, online Student Portal. This concept involves the use of an online gateway to any number or combination of applications or functions • The development of eCommerce for financial transactions.

Student Portfolio Project
QUT has acquired extensive data about its students’ expectations of online services, particularly as a result of two projects conducted in 1998-2000, resulting in the publication Technological Literacy: Foundations for the 21st Century (Rossiter & Watters, 2000). The research has impacted on policy and planning, staff development, infrastructure, funding and resources, online resources and collaborative team approaches to technological literacy. For instance, the integration of technological literacy into the curriculum throughout the University’s different disciplines is a strategic focus. QUT developed an online Student Personal Profile when it established QUT Virtual and is now increasing the size of the ‘portal’ for students to interact with the university. The University considers the Student Portfolio Project of the greatest strategic importance, given the University’s special interest in using technology to provide services to students, as one of Australia’s, and Queensland’s only, University of Technology.

There are two steps in the Student Portfolio Project. Step one, underway in mid–2001, involves building an online repository for students to store their personal material such as their mailing addresses, photographs and exam results. Coupled with this “Personal Profile” information will be “Capability Profile” data that records students’ development of generic attributes and skills. Step 2 involves the development and commitment of all significant components of the IT strategic development of the University in the explicit context of the “Student Activity Lifecycle” • The concept of a Student Activity Life Cycle is captured in the following diagram and is about providing students with ‘electronic touch points’ with the university, as they progress through their university experience and through life. • The Guidelines for IT Architecture include ensuring that the aims and the technological components of various services provided for students are integrated with each other. For instance, a student using the portal for disparate purposes such as enrolling or learning online will have the sense that all the different services available electronically are from the same technological platform.
Diagram 1.1.1: Student Activity Lifecycle at QUT


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


QUT defines eCommerce as any form of financial business transaction in which parties interact electronically, rather than by physical exchanges or direct physical contact. In recent years, QUT has developed a range of new electronic financial services, such as QUT Pay-by-phone in 1999 for payment of student fees. It is now developing a complementary Pay-online option. QUT aims to develop a full range of electronic payment options for commodities. Components of the electronic financial services include: • A new payment server and enhancements to QUT Virtual which will provide a new Internet gateway enabling secure, online authorisation of credit card transactions over the Internet • A unique, client-focused electronic shopping facility for books and services through the introduction of an electronic ‘shopping cart’ • Multi-layered security for online clients • A centralised delivery mechanism for all types of online billing and payment activities such as bookshop purchases, student fees and parking fees. A primary business driver behind the eCommerce initiative is the need to maintain pace with leading-edge practices in the wider community by advancing and expanding QUT’s current payment options, to include epayment options - online, direct debit and B Pay. A second driver is the desire to improve clients’ view of their QUT online experience, by value adding to the existing online processes, such as online admission and enrolment, tutorial allocation and bookshop lists. The benefits of the eCommerce developments for QUT include: • Real-time authorisation and processing of Internet credit card transactions • 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access • transaction security • enhanced and online merchant reporting • easy integration to merchant website • low establishment costs • obtaining a return on investment through the utilisation of existing infrastructure. QUT is introducing the eCommerce initiatives in three stages. Stage one involves the investigation and recommendation of a Payment Server service provider for online payments. Stage Two involves the implementation of an eCommerce pilot project for the purchase of books from the Bookshop. Stage Three involves the implementation of an online credit card payment function for student fees and parking fees.

Later steps in the eCommerce project will include Bpay; links to customers’ own banking facilities; online billing or payments to additional service areas; and effective e-fulfilment.

Challenges and responses
QUT places a strong emphasis on collaboration and governance for eBusiness. As with most other universities, QUT witnessed the emergence in the 1990s of different technologies for use in areas such online learning, online enrolments and online payments. To ensure technology integration and collegial collaboration, the Information Technology Strategic Governance Committee was established-chaired by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Dennis Gibson-as the formal mechanism for handling all IT-related funding submissions and projects. In addition, QUT uses email extensively to obtain advice from expert staff within the university. For instance, when a quick decision needed to be made about an attractive offer from a vendor, the views of about thirty key staff were sought by email and the decision not to proceed with the purchase was reached promptly, saving the university from a potentially costly mistake. Similarly, after an internal email debate about Customer Relationship Management (CRM), it was resolved that the University would not proceed with this matter, at this juncture. One challenge faced by the University is that staff members have different expectations and different technological capabilities. Pro-Vice Chancellor Tom Cochrane said the University had to judge the entry-level skills of its staff. “The technological literacy research showed us that the comfort level of staff with technology was an issue. We needed to check our assumptions about staff attitudes, as staff have different orientations to technology,” he said. As a result of such considerations, staff development is provided in technological literacy, including an induction program called ‘Enter’. A focus of the staff development is staff engaging with their colleagues online. A ‘buddy’ system is provided, to enable experienced staff to mentor inexperienced ones and a Computer Support Officer in each Faculty provides additional support. Pro-Vice Chancellor Cochrane believes cultural change at QUT is the key to the success of eBusiness. “In our online system, the individual teacher has complete control over his/her course site. They set the security parameters; they can archive or hide any material they wish; the staff set their own targets,” he said. “The online system is so easy to use with an intuitive interface, the teacher does not need to be able to build a web page. The focus of the system is staff sharing their experiences with each other, as part of a culture of staff engaging with each other. In this way, the technology will leverage a permanent cultural change at QUT.”


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


According to Pro-Vice Chancellor Cochrane, the University initially underestimated the complexities of developing a one-off way to capture data from different databases within the organisation. Then it realised that every piece of information, such as a course outline, has a different owner, so consistency of the information was an immediate issue. The university also realised that it needed to persuade many staff of the value of such a coordinated approach. “The innovation raised issues about academic freedom, ownership of information, quality controls, partnerships, policy, accountability and technology. Do you stifle innovation till you get integrity of the information? We decided to move ahead: it forces the pain and provides the gain,” he said. Pro-Vice Chancellor Cochrane believes that the open, sharing approach to eBusiness at QUT has built confidence in the online medium within the institution, so that eBusiness is now ‘beyond a cottage industry of the Information Technology Services unit.’

The QUT case study meets good practice criteria that match those identified in a case study set out in Section 1.3 of this report, based on the approach to eBusiness developed at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). The QUT case study shows that Australia has educational organisations that are on the pace, globally, in establishing eBusiness. Good practices evident at both QUT and UCLA include the clarity of business drivers; clarity about student needs; a focus on return on investment; high-level executive support; and a commitment of adequate levels of funding. QUT is exemplary in underpinning its eBusiness developments with a collaborative culture, shared decision-making and responsibilities devolved to teaching staff.

1.2 Customer Relationship Management: Securities Institute of Australia
The following case study describes one of the core components of eBusiness, customer relationship management (CRM). Previously viewed narrowly as a way of using databases of customers’ details to expand sales, CRM is now seen as a way of repositioning the organisation to better manage relationships with customers. This case study of the Securities Institute of Australia (SIA) highlights the benefits of CRM, when the system is planned and implemented in a thorough manner. CRM involves the use of a combination of integration principles, business processes and specialist software. An effective CRM implementation includes process reengineering and organisational change. It also requires modification and implementation of sophisticated software. CRM can enable an educational organisation to become much more customer-centric and demand-driven and less product-centric and supply-driven. An outstanding feature of the Securities Institute is the way CRM integrates with and enriches other functions and processes of the organisation as described in diagram 1.2.1 at the end of this sub-section. The Securities Institute of Australia believes that CRM is fundamental to its survival, justifying both the risk and the investment.

Case Study 1.2: Securities Institute of Australia
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are used by membershipbased organisations, but not by many educational bodies. One Australian provider of higher education programs, the Securities Institute of Australia (SIA), a specialist in financial planning and related education courses, recently took the unusual step of buying and modifying an off-the-shelf CRM system to provide a range of functions including a student management system. Most other higher education providers in Australia purchase a student management system before considering the addition of CRM. The case study explains why the Securities Institute took this innovative approach.

The not-for-profit Securities Institute of Australia is both an educational body and a membership-based organisation in the finance industry. Apart from providing fee-for-service, customised and continuing professional development activities, the SIA offers a range of accredited courses ranging from Associate Diploma level to Masters level, in programs such as the Diploma of Financial Advising and the Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning. Over 28,500 subject enrolments were taken in 2000, with 40% of diploma and graduate diploma subjects completed via distance education. The 2000 enrolments included 1,200 international students from 59 different countries. The Institute has a joint venture with a Malaysian fund management organisation and regularly delivers courses in Kuala Lumpur. The SIA has also secured a tender to provide an intensive training program in China in credit risk management.


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


SIA members in 2000 totalled 9,700 and included professionals in fields such as financial planning, superannuation and investment. The SIA has offices and teaching facilities in Sydney, its headquarters, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and its revenue in 2000 was $26.6m.

CRM business drivers
Prior to the development of the CRM system, customer relationship management capabilities within the Securities Institute were limited due to the lack of centralised information, lack of flexibility in its information systems and inadequate information analysis. CRM now provides an opportunity for the Securities Institute to improve information handling, improve relationships with customers and reduce manual processes. Another driver for the Securities Institute is the threat from competitors. The threat is a reality for the Securities Institute, as students in most countries of the world can easily enrol with organisations say, in the USA, which offer similar, specialised programs to the Institute and use online technologies extensively. The online revolution means that the Securities Institute needs to match and surpass global competitors in its industry if it is to survive. The CRM development at the Securities Institute was also stimulated by the need to replace an aging technology infrastructure, the threat from competitors in the use of online communication with students and the desire to improve internal efficiencies. To address these and other issues, the Securities Institute decided to purchase an existing CRM software package, Onyx, and to modify the software to suit the Institute, according to Information Technology Manager David Mitchell. “We had a dire business need to replace the previous technological infrastructure: it was so bad it was threatening the business. Purchasing the CRM system was an opportunity to sweep away the old technology and to start again with a clean slate,” Mr Mitchell said. Another driver for the initiative was the desire of the Securities Institute to relate to its many distance education students in a more holistic way, offering them more than just a one-off course. It wanted to provide an enhanced range of one-to-one services to its students and members, rather than offer a restricted range of services for cohorts of students. According to General Manager, Business Development and Service, Dennis Macnamara the CRM approach enabled the Securities Institute to relate to students as individuals, not as members of a class. “The CRM system provides us with intelligence about each student or member and enables us to match each individual with value-added services. For instance, in an increasing number of our courses, a student can enrol at any time of the year, select what mix of distance education, online and faceto-face support is preferred, and communication between the two parties can continue for the rest of their career, not just for a semester,” Dennis Macnamara said.

Description of the CRM system
The implementation of the CRM system involves three core parties: the Securities Institute, the supplier of the CRM system Onyx and the website developer XT3. A team of up to eight staff from Onyx worked on the project from late 2000 to mid 2001, assisted by four Institute staff. Implementation of the Onyx Employee Portal (OEP) began as part of the first stage of the project in January 2001 with functionality rolled out progressively during first semester 2001. Onyx Customer Portal (OCP) development-in conjunction with SIA’s revamped transactional website-began in June 2001, with a launch scheduled for August 2001. Functionality implemented in the first stage includes a central location to: • access and manage information about students, practitioners, members and prospects; • capture and maintain multiple addresses against each contact; • capture and maintain multiple phone numbers against each contact; • track demographic information (eg. market sector and geographic region) against each customer; • maintain one running tally of continuing professional development points against each individual; and • Provide systematic address validation and formatting. A feature of the functioning CRM system is the easy-to-use web interface, which sits above the different databases in the Securities Institute. The second phase of the project, in 2001, involves the implementation of the Customer Portal and the redevelopment of the website and the following functions: • Customer portal functionality: lead capture and profiling. • Commerce functionality: online product catalogue; order processing. • Additional services: product registration; order history; profile management; online product and literature catalogue; web self-help; online service and support. With the implementation of the second phase of the project completed in late 2001, a student is able to use the site to find out information about the Institute and its products. They can also search for a type of course to suit his/her needs, register interest to be notified about when an event might be available in their area, enrol in a course and a subject and apply for membership. In addition they can find a program to suit his/her needs by answering a number of questions, email an interesting part of the site to a friend, communicate with other students using a moderated web based forum, change their contact details and view their timetable and results. Besides providing each user with the above services, the CRM system allows the Institute to secure the site; provide restricted and value-add content to designated or targeted Securities Institute customers and promote its products and services and any news or success stories.


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


Challenges and responses
The major challenges for the Institute in implementing the CRM system were not only to modify an existing CRM software to suit the Institute’s hybrid customer mix of students and members, but to understand how the system might impact on the Institute’s business processes. It needed to alert staff to the impending changes on their jobs and help them develop new skills required to support the CRM system. Hence, a business process reengineering expert was engaged by the Institute to identify business processes that would be affected and to work with the staff. To ensure the CRM system is used optimally, internal policies also needed addressing. According to David Mitchell, operational sections of the Institute needed to be alerted to what was going to happen with the implementation of the CRM system. “Informing the operational staff caused delays in the implementation, but it paid big dividends,” Mr Mitchell said. Dennis Macnamara is conscious of the risks taken and the benefits that are possible. “It was a brave decision by the Securities Institute Board, as a CRM system normally sits on top of an existing system and doesn’t drive it”, he said. “People don’t yet realise how good it will be: it has huge potential. It breaks down the division in our business between students doing our accredited courses and our continuing professional development courses and our members. All of them can be serviced equally well, in a customised manner and more quickly with the CRM system. However, it is still early days and we have much more to do; we underestimated the amount of effort to get it right; and we still need to access infrastructure funds to make best use of it.” While the first two stages of the project will cost around $2.5m, the Securities Institute believes it chose the right path. There is now some potential for the Securities Institute to sell its intellectual property in how it customised an offthe-shelf CRM product to suit its specific context. Research by the SIA and their supplier suggests that the Securities Institute’s initiative, as an educational and membership body, in implementing a powerful CRM system as its main software engine, sitting atop the other software applications in the organisation, is a world-class achievement.

The Securities Institute case study shows a small, dynamic organisation taking an innovative approach to integrating its back office and front office systems. The case study highlights the benefits of CRM when thoroughly planned and carefully implemented, in moving an organisation to change its focus from supplying product to meeting customer demand.

Diagram 1.2.1: How the Onyx CRM system integrates with the website, back office and other components of the Securities Institute


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


1.3 Systemic Strategic Planning: Victorian TAFE
This case study explores strategic planning for eBusiness from a systemic point of view. The case study is an example of good practice in planning for eBusiness across a network of educational organisations, from metropolitan and country areas. Good practice is demonstrated in many ways, for instance, through the clarity of the decision-making processes, the comprehensive nature of the initiatives, and the progressive implementation of different aspects of eBusiness. The case study from the Victorian TAFE system is a reminder of the complexity of eBusiness and the value of identifying risks, rewards and success measures. Importantly, the case study demonstrates the value of Government bodies developing generic platforms not only to save on investment costs, but also to ensure ease of collaboration, as eBusiness thrives on common technological platforms and shared business planning and processes.

Good practice case study
Set out below is the case study of the Victorian TAFE Institutes Management Information System’s eBusiness strategic planning and implementation initiative. This case study is based on information provided by the personnel managing the project from May to November 2001. The case study highlights good practice in strategic planning for eBusiness, because the challenges faced by the participating TAFE Institutes are much more extensive than implementing eBusiness within one organisation. Special features of this project include the following: • eleven TAFE Institutes work collaboratively on the project and reach consensus on developing new business processes. The eleven TAFE Institutes include three metropolitan and all regional institutes. This group delivers approximately 39% of Victoria’s 2.6 million module enrolments; • the Victorian Government, through the Office of Employment Training and Tertiary Education, has been the primary sponsor of the project. Individual TAFE Institutes have also contributed to the development of a range of interrelated project initiatives; • a Management Committee chaired by Mr John Maddock, CEO Box Hill TAFE Institute, has representation from participating and non participating TAFE Institutes, oversees the development of corporate information systems and determines policy and work priorities, taking into consideration Government strategic initiatives; and • a commercial arrangement is in place with an IT developer to market and onsell nationally the software developed by the project.

Case Study 1.3: Victorian TAFE eBusiness
The Victorian Technical and Further Education (TAFE) eBusiness project commenced in 1996 with 11out of 14 TAFE Institutes accepting an invitation to participate in a project, with the objective of improving and where necessary developing efficient corporate information systems. These systems include Student Administration, Financial Management interfacing, Curriculum Management, Human Resources and Asset Management, and are identified in diagram 1.3.1 following. The first priority was the replacement of legacy student administration systems in TAFE Institutes. Through a public tender process in 1997, the Management Committee awarded a contract to a Welsh Company, MicroCompass Pty Ltd, for the purchase of a new state-of-the-art student administration system, known as QLS (Quantum Leap Students), and in partnership with an Australian company, Logical Technologies, customised the product to suit the Victorian TAFE environment. From these early steps the current eBusiness project has evolved to its present aim of assisting Victorian TAFE Institutes to become more efficient in using information systems and related change management practices. The project now contains many components: development of online enrolments through Institute Web Portals (a Government online learning platform called the” Virtual Campus” is accessible through the Institute Web Portal); enhancements to the student management system, QLS; implementation of a new data warehouse; and a Business Intelligence product that is widely used by the TAFE Institutes for analysis and reporting purposes.

Research by the Victorian eBusiness project team showed that there is wide discrepancy in the composition, scope and maturity of information systems in TAFE Institutes. This cooperative partnership arrangement has made TAFE Institutes aware of the leverage that can be gained through critical mass purchasing. A data warehouse is being used as the core repository element for data collection, enabling the integration of information for analysis and high level reporting purposes. Since the project’s inception, technology has evolved to the extent that both providers and customers expect-as normal practice-web-based, self-service facilities. This web approach enables each Institute to modify its systems to suit local needs-a popular feature of the project with the stakeholders. The web-based approach also builds upon pioneering work in the use of the web for online learning through the Virtual Campus. The eBusiness project is now working to provide an interface to the online learning systems with the webbased student administrative systems.

The Victorian TAFE project aims to improve access to accurate, strategic management information and to improve data quality and management, through the use of web-based tools. Web-enabled, quality information systems will lead to substantial business efficiencies and reporting, integrated core TAFE Institute applications and unique relationships with customers.


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


Specific business drivers behind this initiative include: • The Victorian Government’s policy directive that 15% of the student activity in TAFE Institutes in 2001 be delivered online; • The need for TAFE to enter new markets, reach new customers and receive improved supplier services; and • Ongoing demand for efficiency gains to reduce corporate overheads for each student contact hour. • The web offers an opportunity for TAFE Institutes to address these matters and to access collaboration tools and to establish partnerships not only with customers but also with commercial organisations. A special feature of this project is the relationship developed with commercial parties. As mentioned above, Victorian TAFE developed a relationship with MicroCompass Systems Limited, UK and Logical Technologies, to customise and enhance the UK based product for Victorian TAFE use. The Victorian Government through the Department of Education Employment and Training has a distribution arrangement with MicroCompass to sell the Australian version of the QLS Product within Australia. Presently this partnership arrangement has resulted in the sale of the QLS product to TAFE Tasmania. Discussions are occurring with TAFE Tasmania and the Project Team to establish a closer working relationship that will assist each party to derive benefits from this sale.

Concerns and challenges
The primary concerns of the participating TAFE Institutes are: • to avoid the loss of key personnel after they are trained in the Project; • to retain the support of the Government in the Project; and • to deliver business benefits such as better service to customers and increased accountability. TAFE Institutes expect that efficiencies gains through the project will deliver improved services and will result in reduced, ongoing costs. In summary, the challenges for the Victorian TAFE EBusiness project are: • to optimise the full capability of developed software and improve customer satisfaction; • to link all the core corporate systems through the data warehouse; • to organise business strategy around customer segments; • to integrate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) into business strategy; and • to address the cultural change necessary to implement eBusiness.

General Manager of the Project, Dom Valeri, believes linking the different systems within an Institute will enable the Institutes to see benefits through changes in work practices. For instance, teachers will be able to record students’ marks immediately, without waiting for the results to be keyed in by

another staff member. This will eliminate double handling of paper records, eliminate errors and should bring efficiencies. This re-engineering of function will need to be complemented with a greater emphasis on retraining staff and will result in changes in how enrolment centres are set up and operate. Students will be able to enrol from anywhere they can access a modem and an ISP account, and with this flexibility customer service is improved. According to Dom Valeri: “The project has no peer: we are trailblazing because there is no benchmark to follow. As a consequence, this project has not been easy to develop. Trying to get agreement from eleven Institutes in adopting common business practices is difficult. We started off thinking it was a 12-month project to correct an antiquated, legacy student administrative system, but we quickly realised that the task was much larger than that. With Information Technology ever-changing, Institutes realise they have to change with the times and many of their systems will need to re-evaluated, along with complementing these changes with an appropriately skilled workforce to meet the challenges of the day.”

International benchmarking by Victorian TAFE
To benchmark the Victorian TAFE eBusiness developments against world’s best practice, Dom Valeri and a colleague from one of the participating Institutes, Mr John Peterson, won a Victorian TAFE Association travelling scholarship to visit a range of overseas sites that are using eBusiness to improve educational organisations. The trip convinced them of the value of pursuing ‘virtual self-service student services’, such as online enrolments, online payments, self-serve assessment details and student portals for creating individual student web pages. The trip also confirmed that the Victorian project is correctly focused on key aspects of eBusiness such as eProcurement, online human resources systems and customer relationship management systems. Dom Valeri and John Peterson are confident that from their knowledge of the TAFE sector in Victoria and their recent research investigations, Australia is well positioned with the rest of the world in implementing eBusiness in education, particularly in the way projects like the Victorian one are so focused on improving services for students and involving the stakeholders in the planning process.

This case study began by pointing out that not only is strategic planning a complex undertaking in any situation, strategic planning with regard to eBusiness is even more complex, given the changing nature of eBusiness. A key to the success of the Victorian project is that there is collaborative decision making on the project. A long-term business plan (reviewed annually) guides the Project through the development and implementation phases. In this way, the stakeholders are motivated and drive the initiative, as depicted in diagram 1.3.1.


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


Diagram 1.3.1: Key components of the Victorian TAFE Institutes’ Project

1.4 eProcurement: TAFE South Australia
The following case study describes one of the core components of an eBusiness supply chain, eProcurement. The case study highlights the impact of eProcurement within an educational organisation, as the impact is not only felt within the ordering and stores sections, but also can have a beneficial ripple effect on other back office functions such as the finance and human resources divisions. Besides saving time and money, eProcurement can lead to the release of valuable human resources, such as personnel in stores and finance that can be re-directed to more value-added student-related activities. But eProcurement is not straightforward, involving extensive collaboration and careful planning, as the following account demonstrates. The case study focuses on a South Australian VET organisation’s progress towards using an eProcurement system.

Case Study 1.4: South Australian TAFE
The South Australian Government’s Department for Administration and Information Services (DAIS) is an active supporter of the APCC Framework and is currently staging the implementation of an electronic commerce purchasing system, called E-Purchase SA, which will enable the Government and its suppliers to move progressively to an online buying environment. Pilot trials are currently being prepared for a number of educational sites, including a TAFE Institute, schools and the IT Services unit of the Department of Education, Training and Employment. The likely success of the trials is increased by the fact that DAIS has purchased an existing workflow software package for eProcurement. The new package is called E-Purchase SA. Amongst the nine Technical and Further Education Institutes (TAFE) in South Australia, the Douglas Mawson Institute of Technology volunteered to be the trial site for the implementation of E-Purchase SA in 2001-2002.

Douglas Mawson Institute of Technology (DMIT) consists of four campuses in southwest suburban Adelaide, stretching from Panorama campus five kilometres south of the city to Port Adelaide, 17 kilometres to the west. This distributed structure of four campuses presents a challenge for the Institute’s corporate services division, which supplies back office functions such as IT, accounts, stores and HR. With encouragement from the Stores section, the Furnishing School at the Marleston campus of DMIT, near Adelaide airport, is the focal point of the impending eProcurement trial. The School spends around $0.5m per annum on timber, hand tools, power tools, fabrics, polishing and hardware for student use. Over thirty different suppliers, who are now being invited to participate in the ePurchase SA system, supply the goods. Currently only one of the 30 suppliers has an online catalogue.


Section 1: Case studies

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Opportunities, problems and pitfalls and implementation issues The opportunities, concerns and hopes regarding eProcurement at DMIT are different for three managers at DMIT: from the Furnishing School, Stores and Corporate Services.
Gary McPhee, DMIT Contracts and Procurement Manager, is the key driver of the innovation. He notes that the auditor is worried about mismanagement of stores once they are on site. Therefore, he sees eProcurement as a just-in-time way to minimise inventory and to remove opportunities for theft. eProcurement also ‘frees up stores people’ from menial tasks; enables the Institute to get the best price; and stops the Institute ‘stockpiling’ bargains that may never be used. “If it works for the Furnishing School, it will work for everyone” said Mr McPhee. Chris Dunbar, Manager of the Furnishing School, believes the main benefits of eProcurement will be for the Stores and Finance divisions, as he is sceptical about whether the system will result in lower prices. His experience to date with the one supplier who is online and who is a preferred supplier to the Government, is that the online supplier is more expensive. He is also concerned about the time it will take to bring all the other suppliers online. However, in the long term, Chris believes that eProcurement will result in quicker servicing of orders and greater simplicity by knowing that when you press the button once the order process will be initiated. Gess Carbone, Manager Corporate Services, is supporting the eProcurement pilot provided the software can be integrated with Accounts, as she is looking to increase productivity and lower overheads in the back office. “We are looking to exploit technology in order to get out of labour intensive processing, say, of invoices. Spare capacity can be directed towards value-adding activities to support education. Everything we do in the back office has a direct roll-on effect to the provision of education by the Institute,” he said. The back office support functions at the Institute are described in the following diagram.
Diagram 1.4.1: Back office support activities at DMIT

The eProcurement system can have a flow-on effect from ‘Procurement’ to other back office support functions within the Institute.

In summary, the challenges for the eProcurement project are many: • to demonstrate savings; • to reduce inventory; • to link to the accounts system; • to free up staff from paper-based form filling; • to persuade suppliers to participate; • to convince Institute staff of the benefits.

The trial commenced in July 2001 and each of the many challenges is being addressed. For example, • to prepare the Institute staff, two full-day seminars have been conducted to date • suppliers are being offered assistance to prepare their online catalogues • software is being developed to link the eProcurement system to the Institute’s accounts system. The proposed eProcurement system at the Institute is summarised in the following diagram:

Diagram 1.4.2: eProcurement supply chain and back office for DMIT Furnishing School

The case study describes the key role of eProcurement in an organisation’s eBusiness supply chain, and the potential for benefits to extend to other back office functions. Improved efficiencies in the eProcurement supply chain at DMIT can potentially provide improved benefits for students, by releasing staff in the back office for more student-related value added activities. Another efficiency being sought from eProcurement at DMIT is a reduction in the inventory, leading to a reduction in exposure to theft.


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


1.5 Enterprise Resource Planning: Department of Education, Tasmania
This case study of the Department of Education, Tasmania, highlights the value of enterprise resource planning (ERP): one of the advanced components of an eBusiness. ERP is the technological backbone of eBusiness: the backbone in the back office. In a commercial enterprise, ERP is an enterprise-wide transaction framework with links into sales order processing, inventory management and control, production and distribution planning, and finance. ERP overcomes the integration challenges posed by disconnected, uncoordinated back office applications that have often outlived their usefulness. (Kalakota & Robinson, 2001, pp.239-241) Not-for-profit educational organisations can also benefit from ERP, by consolidating the technology in the back office functions and improving communication lines to clients. The case study shows how the Department of Education, Tasmania, has developed its own ERP solution, driven by an Information Resource Management Plan (IRM) and by taking advantage of a secure authentication system and a powerful data warehouse.

Case Study 1.5: Department of Education Tasmania
The Department of Education services 218 schools around the challenging geography of Tasmania. Undaunted by the problems of geography, the Department made considerable progress over the past few years in establishing foundations of information technology infrastructure, teacher professional development, information resource management policies and new business processes. The business drivers for these ventures are the Department’s intention to exploit the opportunities offered by information and communication technologies (ICT) to: • enhance the effectiveness of education, training and information services delivered to the Tasmanian community; • expand the capacity of the Department to respond to accelerating change; • improve organisational efficiency. This case study focuses in particular on the Department’s creation of an Office of eBusiness Development; the development of breakthrough technology for the web; and the value of the Information Resource Management Plan.

Office of eBusiness Development
In a radical move, the Department of Education in Tasmania created an Office of eBusiness Development within the Department in 2001, to provide leadership in eBusiness. The Director (Information Management) became the Director (eBusiness Development), immediately escalating the profile of eBusiness within the Department.

The role of the Office of eBusiness Development is to promote and facilitate the identification and pursuit of opportunities arising through the use of information and communications technologies. The Office gives priority to the following areas: • Supporting the Department’s strategic agenda to improve education services, training services, information services and internal business processes. • Developing partnerships and relationships with external organisations including technology firms, key policy makers, other state government departments and authorities, the University of Tasmania, other government and non-government organisations throughout Australia involved in education and ICT. • Coordinating the Department’s effective participation in the national Le@rning Federation Schools Online Content Curriculum Initiative project. • Managing the exploitation of the department’s ICT related intellectual property resources. • Developing an external consultancy capability in ICT for the Department. • Providing sound strategic and policy advice to senior executives for ICT and information management issues. • Facilitating the extension of electronic technologies for information delivery. • Integrating key information systems including student management systems, learning management systems, library management systems and resource management systems. • Ensuring the Department develops effective applications systems, information and data architecture. • Identifying and supporting linkages between ICT and information resource management initiatives in different business units. The newly established Centre of Excellence in Online Learning reports to the Director (eBusiness Development). The mission of the Centre is to initiate and support excellence and innovation in teaching and learning through the use of new and emerging online technologies. The Office of eBusiness Development is a flexible, agile mechanism for the Department to keep pace with international trends in eBusiness. Two technological pillars: an online security system and a data warehouse The Tasmanian eBusiness Project is assisted by two major technological developments: an online security system for users and a data warehouse. The security system is called Vkey (“Virtual Key” to the Department). Vkey is a software program designed to manage access to the Department’s computerised information. Installation of the program Windows 2000 on computers throughout the Department has created a single integrated computer network. A system was needed to ensure that all Department employees have access to this network, but only to particular information they need to perform their work. Vkey is the resultant system.


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The development of Vkey took a number of years to develop, required the high-level input of some progressive staff members and involved close liaison with a local software development company, Dytech. Vkey has a number of advantages for the Department: • Upon commencement of employment, all employees of the Department are automatically entered into Vkey, as the information in Vkey comes directly from Empower-HR, the Department’s human resource management system. This means that maintenance is reduced and that up-to-date Department directories are available. • Though Vkey is a centralised database, control of the access to information available via Vkey is distributed to business units, including individual schools. Schools determine the information that particular staff and teachers have access to. Schools also have the ability to reset passwords. • All employees will have a similar e-mail address. Specialised distribution lists will be easier to set up for sending mail to targeted groups; • When employees leave, access to computerised resources is revoked. It is possible to provide greater security and control over information. Vkey was developed in partnership with Dytech, a commercial company. Dytech now markets the product internationally as ERM (Enterprise Resource Management) Server.

Information Resource Management Plan
eBusiness planning within the Department is guided by an Information Resource Management (IRM) Plan, the development of which is overseen by the Department’s IRM Steering Committee (whose membership includes many of the Department’s senior executive management). The IRM Plan is a plan for information and technology investment to ensure that the following objectives are addressed: • That activities are appropriately aligned with the strategic agenda of the Department • That there is a shared understanding of the current situation and the Department of Education’s direction, which is consistent with government strategy • That a complete, coherent and managed framework of activities is being pursued • That risks, issues and concerns within the current framework of activities can be identified and pro-actively addressed • That the Department’s overall information and technology budget can be managed • That major information and technology projects can be initiated, developed and managed as a cohesive set of activities. Diagram 1.5.1 below shows the nine components of the IRM plan.

The Department benefits from the integration of the administration of eBusiness (the Office of eBusiness Development); the development of leading edge technology such as Vkey and a powerful data warehouse; and the use of an innovative plan, the IRM plan. Mitchell Knevett, Manager (Information Resources), Office of eBusiness Development,said a central data warehouse had benefits. “The central data warehouse is very useful. For example, when students move from primary to secondary school we don’t have to re-key their details. We are leveraging off that infrastructure to do more opportunistic things. For instance, secondary college open learning students enrol in lots of courses with different providers and now we are able to manage the enrolments through web-based technologies. We are seeing dramatic improvements in efficiencies, as we get away from faxing enrolments around Tasmania,” Mitchell Knevett said. Another example of the value of the central data warehouse relates to the processes when a student is suspended from school. In the past, arrangements with Student Guidance Officers were by fax. Now, once the student’s ID and suspension are recorded in the data warehouse, the system will we generate an automatic letter by email. The State Library is organisationally part of the Department of Education and through this strong relationship arrangements have developed such that students from around Tasmania are able to access online the resources of over 40 branches of the State Library, through linkages developed with the data warehouse and Vkey security system. Students are able to search online for resources not just in public libraries and schools, but also in TAFE. The creation of an extensive and versatile technological infrastructure enables the Department to take advantage of projects such as the joint State and Commonwealth funded Le@rning Federation investment in online content, by offering its services as a testbed for this $68m project. Teachers around the State will be able to tap into the Le@rning Federation online content from their classrooms. Staff from the Discover Online Learning Unit from the Centre of Excellence in Online Learning, who were involved in the development of the ‘Discover’ website for Tasmanian schools, are now working with Dytech to interface the online learning system WebCT to the Department’s data warehouse and the data objects to be developed by the Le@rning Federation.

The Department of Education Tasmania has leveraged off its development of a secure access system for the web and its innovative data warehouse, to provide a range of services to students and teachers around the State. The case study shows the value of enterprise resource planning in maximising eBusiness benefits. The success of the ERP solution is based on a number of critical factors. These include progressive leadership, clear business goals, meeting immediate


Section 1: Case studies

eBusiness in Education


organisational and student needs, leading-edge and customisable technology, a strong relationship with a technology provider; and innovative staff. The following diagram and the notes explain the way the different components of Information Resources in the Department of Education in Tasmania are joined together.
Diagram 1.5.1: Integrated Information Resource Management Plan

Notes to diagram:
There are many relationships between the nine components of the IRM Plan. Some of the significant relationships have been indicated on the diagram, however many have not. It is important that each of the components of the IRM Plan should be considered as part of an overall design, and changes to any one component can have an effect on many other components. It can be seen from the diagram that the central integral component to the IRM Plan is Building A Communications Network. Such a telecommunications infrastructure developmental process is integral to the success of many related initiatives. For example, Building Schools Infrastructure (eg. classrooms computers) requires Building A Communications Network to establish modern telecommunications services to allow such classroom computers to be used effectively to access information resources (eg. the Internet) and to communicate with other students and teachers (eg. via email). Building Schools Infrastructure creates essential infrastructure that many other components rely on for delivery of other services. For example, both Providing Professional Development (eg. investigating new ways of teaching and learning) and Enabling Access to Information (eg. accessing Web resources) depend on classroom computers being available. (IRM Plan)

1.6 eProcurement: ACT Schools
eProcurement is a popular stepping-stone towards an eBusiness approach to education. The development of eProcurement in schools around Australia is still in its infancy and much can be learnt from the following case study, which highlights the value of collaboration between multiple parties. Features of this case study of eProcurement in ACT Schools include: • Coordination of the eProcurement initiative by the ACT Government • Collaboration with the Australian Procurement and Construction Council’s Framework for Co-operation on Electronic Commerce for Procurement (APCC) • Collaboration between the ACT Government client, the eProcurement technology provider and the users in schools • The emphasis on raising awareness and persuading schools of the benefits of eProcurement.

Case Study 1.6: ACT Schools
The ACT Department of Urban Services was given approval by the ACT Government in 2000 to conduct an eProcurement trial, involving ten ‘seats’: five in the Chief Minister’s Department and five seats among a diverse group of schools, situated in various geographical areas in and around Canberra. The trials with schools commenced in March 2001 and involved one high school, two primary schools and two combined high schools-primary schools. These schools were invited to participate as they had the most hits on the ACT’s BASIS website, the Buyers and Sellers Information Service which provides businesses in the Australian Capital Region with access to a number of on line SME enablement initiatives sponsored by the Urban Services Procurement Solutions business unit. The initial school trials in eProcurement are focused on the purchase of stationery, as this is considered a low risk activity, with most purchases of a small nature. The next step will be to add travel purchases and possibly computer purchases, before the benefits of the eProcurement trial are identified through a later audit.

eProcurement is of interest to the Procurement Solutions business unit of the Department of Urban Services, as each school controls its own budgets and covers its own infrastructure costs, raising the possibility of improved efficiencies and reduced costs. Project Director Tom McDonald, Procurement Solutions Consultant for the Procurement Solutions Division of the ACT’s Department of Urban Services is focusing on the long-term, systemic benefits of the project. According to Mr McDonald:


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eBusiness in Education


“In this devolved environment, schools need to negotiate with individual suppliers, removing the benefits of aggregated purchasing. On the other hand, schools’ budget positions are often so tight, the school would view any marginal advantage positively. With the lack of suppliers online at the moment, the main saving from eProcurement to schools could be in the saving on time. In the initial eProcurement trial, we want to prove the marginal benefits of eProcurement in a devolved management environment.” The objectives of the eProcurement trial, in relation to schools, are to publicise the concept of eProcurement and to test the technology and processes by which aggregated purchasing advantages can be achieved across a diversely managed range of sites. “We want to see if eProcurement can improve the buying habits of schools. With the traditional, devolved buying system, there is some fear that some buyers were acting in a random, fashion, and by virtue of their limited individual business profiles, at the mercy of suppliers. We wanted .to demonstrate the benefits of aggregated buying solutions, meanwhile maintaining the freedom schools need to engage with the devolved management policy,” according to Tom McDonald.

Opportunities and benefits
Tom McDonald believes eProcurement has the potential to stabilise stationery buying costs in a devolved environment, that it will lead to simple, transparent probity; and that it will assist the achievement of a fully paperless and seamless procurement system. The benefits of the eProcurement system, as cited by Tom McDonald, include: • an online single point of entry to the online marketplace meant that endusers did not have to log on to multiple sites; • a reduction of paper work; • an ability for individual teachers to carry out buying, without needing to have administrative staff place the order, with an upper limit of money that could be spent by any one teacher; • the system is customisable and scalable; • the system can be rolled out over a number of years, to give schools a chance to become familiar with the technology and the new processes; and • The trading engine is very simple yet very powerful.

Technology design issues
One of the reasons the ACT chose the approach offered by Online Advantage was because it offered a software system that minimised infrastructure requirements. No software is loaded on the buyer’s network; the eProcurement system allows access to different customers and to marketplaces and suppliers independent of their own existing host systems. Andrew Komli, eBusiness Analyst for Online Advantage, stresses the importance of an eProcurement project establishing and managing an XMLbased electronic catalogue or having it hosted and managed by a supplier.

Implementation issues
An issue for the planners of the ACT schools’ eProcurement project was that most schools had not even heard of eProcurement. This was a timely reminder that even if advanced technologies and new business processes exist, users and end-users need to be made aware of the innovations and provided with sufficient induction and support, during the early phases of a new development. This lack of awareness led to the crystallisation of an aim of the trials, which is simply to publicise the possibility of eProcurement in schools. The lack of awareness also influenced the implementation strategies. To prepare the five schools for the trials, four-hour awareness raising and skill-building sessions were provided to the five schools participating in the eProcurement trials. The sessions addressed a number of matters: • What type of existing trading relationships do we currently have in place? • Who do we wish to trade with online? • What are the business drivers for our school trading online? • What are my current business processes for procurement? • Will eProcurement support, supplement and/or replace my existing processes and/or systems? • What level of systems integration is required with my accounting system or inventory system?

Andrew Komli notes that organisations have several options when they become involved with eProcurement: either to start with a few point-to-point electronic relationships with suppliers or to join an online marketplace consortium where companies pool their purchases to increase their buying power. “No matter which strategy is chosen, for eProcurement to be a success, organisations will need not only to electronically enable their customer (buyer) side, but will have to encourage their suppliers to be online. This is critical to a sustainable eProcurement strategy,” Mr Komli said. Terry Charman, National Manager, Government and Business, for Online Advantage, believes that the most difficult issue in eProcurement is the necessary cultural change and the re-engineering of the business processes: “School purchasing staff ask me ‘Will I have a job in five years’ time?’” Robyn Middleton, K-10 School Registrar at Telopea Park School, initially found the trial eProcurement system was complicated and the number of goods online limited, but she said “I haven’t had time to do it justice. I am sure when it is in, there will be more goods available online and the prices will be more competitive and it will be good.” Similarly, the initial impressions of Colleen Wright, Office Manager at Latham Primary School were negative but she is willing to give they system time to settle in.


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“I’m a visual person and I like to look through paper catalogues. I get a catalogue each year and I don’t have time to look at new products online or to wait till it loads. When I look online, I have to look at every photo, so it is not saving me time. It may well work out once I have a background in it. The eProcurement project organisers should be able to get it right,” Colleen Wright said.

The ACT’s Tom McDonald has a long-term view of the value of eProcurement for schools and other Government departments, and the place of eProcurement within a more extensive eBusiness approach to school administration. He sees eProcurement as being in its first stages in schools and that, with time, it will be adopted, as it enables schools to maintain their devolved status while giving them the opportunity to benefit from aggregating buyers and sellers.

Diagram 1.6.1: Linkages between the different eProcurement components for the ACT trials

This case study suggests that eProcurement in schools is dependent on the key variables being in place. These include: sufficient numbers of buyers and sellers are online, sharing the same technological platform; real savings, in comparison to ordering from paper-based catalogues, are obvious for buyers; and the technology is fast, easy to use and reliable.

1.7 International Case Study: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
This chapter describes one of the world-leading educational organisations in eBusiness, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The case study provides Australian educational bodies with information about good practice overseas. The UCLA case study highlights the value of identifying both the business principles for an eBusiness initiative and the technology required to deliver the desired business benefits.

Case Study 1.7: UCLA
The UCLA is one of ten campuses of the University of California. UCLA campus alone has 15,000 staff and 35,000 students and an operating budget of USA$2.7billion per annum. UCLA consists of 400 departments and uses a devolved structure for University administration and operations. According to Susan Abeles, Assistant Vice Chancellor/Controller, Corporate Financial Services Department, almost all the major research universities in the USA want to move towards a web-based, integrated approach to eBusiness and are at different stages of development. Don Worth, Director, Administrative Information Systems, notes that the other nine campuses of the University of California are monitoring developments at UCLA to inform their own decision-making regarding eBusiness.

UCLA has used elements of electronic commerce for many years, starting with EDI for invoices and then EFTPOS. In the mid-1990s the Chancellor decreed that UCLA would develop integrated, web-based systems. In the late 1990s, student web sites were developed and students were able to pay online using credit cards. UCLA adopted a strategy in 1998 to invest USA$7m to web-enable the major transactional legacy systems including the financial and Walker purchasing systems. A key feature of UCLA’s development of web facilities in the eProcurement area is the use of real time transactions. UCLA’s New Business Architecture Technology Strategy is committed to reducing or eliminating all paper-based processes; establishing eBusiness solutions; adopting industry technology and standards for web applications and ensuring adequate authentication and security by the end of 2002. View at http://uc2010.ucsd.edu/pdf/uc2010final.pdf

Description of the UCLA eBusiness systems
The UCLA approach to eBusiness is driven by a number of significant initiatives, including student web services such as the URSA online student self-service system, the student portal, MyUCLA, which started as an initiative of the College of Letters and Sciences about three years ago, and some thorough reviews of UCLA’s IT systems and business processes.


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eBusiness in Education


There are a number of pillars of the UCLA eBusiness system, including: • Virtual Student Services • EProcurement • Virtual Human Resource Management • Virtual Organisational Performance and Reporting Management • Business Portal The first two pillars are already web-based and have received most attention to date. In 2001, the HR system is developing a range of online components, such as job applicants viewing advertisements on the website and responding directly to departments online. Regarding the Performance and Reporting management component, a self-serve staff business portal is being planned, providing staff with access to relevant resources such as their leave and pay records. The Business Portal is described later in this case study.

Student Portal
The student self-service web application for delivering virtual student services, URSA (www.ursa.ucla.edu/), is proving to be so successful for online enrolments that UCLA proposes to close down the previous enrolment system, based on voice response technology. URSA is based on the principle of self-service, and enables the student, using an encrypted Personal Identification Number (PIN), to enrol, change biographical details, request a particular time for a class and enter a name on a wait list for a particular class and access results. Students can make payments online using credit cards for tuition, parking, dining, and housing. In addition, a campus debit card, Bruincard, enables students to make payments to various food venues on campus, the bookstore, the medical centre and to make purchases from local merchants, using an account set up with and maintained by the university. MyUCLA (www.my.ucla.edu), the student web portal, allows applicants, students and alumni to access University calendars and past examinations and reading lists, view staff contact lists and hosts web sites for every course, including syllabus, reading lists, discussion boards, and other instructional materials.

In June 2001 an eProcurement system, BruinBuy, which has been in planning mode for some time, was launched, enabling the current 2,500 authorised staff throughout UCLA to purchase goods online. The university built the eProcurement system in collaboration with Commerce One and the developer of their purchasing/AP system, Walker. A feature of UCLA’s eProcurement system is that it is real-time, that is transactions occur instantly, not overnight. UCLA believes that it is the only university campus in the USA with a realtime eProcurement system, acknowledged by its peers with a invitation for Susan Abeles to address an USA conference of College and University Business Officers, NABUCO, in late 2000.

Pixie Ogren, project manager for BruinBuy, explains their system. “Our eProcurement system is leading edge, because every other university that has eProcurement does batch processing overnight, whereas we offer real-time interactions. The electronic purchase order that goes to the vendor immediately comes back as an electronic invoice, hence eliminating errors. This reduces administrative overheads for both parties,” Pixie Ogren said.

Business drivers
The guiding principles for UCLA’s eBusiness activities include enhanced employee productivity, improved collaboration between departments, campuses, institutions and businesses; management of technology as an investment to yield a return on expenditure; measurement of outcomes; and reduced departmental workloads. Judith Freed, Business Applications Manager for UCLA’s Administrative Information Systems, is clear that the benefits of a web-based approach will eliminate keying in of data. “The web approach will reduce staff keying-in time required in areas such as accounting and general ledger,” Judith Freed said. The provision of a web-based student portal, offering a range of services, is driven by a desire to eliminate queues for students and to provide services online, in many cases, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The development of an eProcurement system is being driven by a number of factors, including the desire to save money on transactions. Although UCLA is a public institution, only 25% of its annual income is from Government. The current energy crisis in California led to the Government announcing a slightly reduced budget for UCLA in 2002. One estimate is that the savings per transaction from UCLA’s eProcurement system could be over USA$100 per order, for orders above a certain amount. “We are very decentralised: we don’t mandate who can buy what; any Department can buy what they wish. However, eProcurement is being driven by the desire to leverage the buying power of UCLA; we want better prices. We want to make the eProcurement system very attractive to our staff, so that savings are realised,” Pixie Ogren said. eProcurement at UCLA eventually will lead to more streamlined relationships with vendors and improved invoicing procedures. In the long term, eProcurement will lead to some reduction in the number of vendors. Currently there are more than 25,000 individual vendors providing goods to UCLA, organised in commodity groups such as office supplies, computers, laboratory supplies and photocopiers. Request for proposals (RFPs) have been distributed to vendors, with twelve contracts signed to date and thirty sought, in total, for the first stage of the eProcurement installation. The eProcurement system provides UCLA with an opportunity to eventually focus most of the online purchasing activity on 200 vendors who will have online catalogues. For the eProcurement trial commencing in June 2001, 20-30 electronic catalogues will be available.


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eBusiness in Education


eProcurement at UCLA will also result in improved invoicing procedures. Over 700,000 invoices are processed each year, many of which will be electronic in the future. Electronic processing will increase the speed of procurement, greatly improve efficiencies and eliminate errors. According to Susan Abeles, the university is motivated to develop eCommerce systems by a range of incentives, not least of which is speed and accuracy: “eCommerce answers the question of how can we get funds into the bank faster, cheaper and without errors,” Susan Abeles said. With the eProcurement system, the number of people in the campus who can purchase items under USA$2,500 will be increased. If a purchaser has prior authority, and wants to purchase from a preferred supplier, the limit for purchases will be raised to USA$25,000. This will reduce the amount of work for specialist finance staff, and these staff can be re-deployed to other activities. Another driver of the eBusiness strategies is the desire to extend the life of the legacy systems such as the general ledger and accounts payable. “It is very complex to integrate existing infrastructure with new developments. We can’t get new releases of these systems, so our eBusiness strategy is providing enhancements,” she said.

An external consultant engaged by UCLA to identify the possible benefits of implementing strategic purchasing alliances and eProcurement predicted, in 1994-95, that the savings could eventually be in the order of USA$10m per annum. UCLA currently estimates the savings at USA$6m, before the implementation of the eProcurement system. However, many of the savings from the eProcurement system will be at the Departmental level, not the corporate level, enabling Departments to buy more or to make other choices with its increased buying power.

Challenges and responses
A major challenge faced by the University is the privacy and security of student electronic information. UCLA’s good practices in guarding the security and privacy of online student records was the subject of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on 11 May 2001, which acknowledged that UCLA ‘goes to great lengths to safeguard information it has about students’. The fact that UCLA is even grappling with how to improve privacy protection in an electronic environment places it ahead of most colleges, according to an industry observer, Adjunct Associate Professor Virginia E. Rezmierski from the University of Michigan. A second major challenge for UCLA in moving to eBusiness is coping with the viability of business partners. For instance, the university’s business partner in the project developing online credit card facilities recently filed for bankruptcy. A third challenge that arises with eProcurement is that not many vendors currently have electronic catalogues. “It was difficult to find vendors who could work with us” said Pixie Ogren.

A fourth challenge is that the field of eBusiness is moving so rapidly according to Susan Abeles. “This industry is changing very quickly. Over a 1-2 year period the ground rules can change completely. The lack of standards for electronic catalogues is a problem that UCLA has had to overcome, according to Judith Freed, by using Commerce One to convert each vendor’s catalogue into a uniform format,” she said.. “This is an iterative process which takes a lot of time,” says Judith Freed, “and we have yet to streamline the process.” UCLA is building its eBusiness systems using a range of internal and external alliances. External alliance partners include Microsoft, IBM and Cisco, the Universities of Washington, Delaware and Boston. The next steps for UCLA include the development of a consolidated e-bill system for all student needs. At present, operational areas such Housing or Parking send out paper bills each month, although the student can pay online. UCLA wants to coordinate the electronic dispatch of the one, consolidated bill each month. UCLA proposes to use its new online infrastructure for e-learning, to provide extensive staff training and development, according to Susan Abeles. “Currently we provide a lot of classroom training for our staff. The web gives us a huge opportunity to reduce the amount of classroom training. A staff member could move out of a screen related to payment and move quickly into a Just-in-Time e-learning program,” she said.

Business portal
The web-based approach is enabling UCLA to move towards the development of a Business Portal, complementing the Student Portal provided by MyUCLA. The Business Portal, according to Pixie Ogren, is a way to integrate applications and information for the individual staff member within the university. The staff member can personalise his or her interface to the software programs, to suit their needs. A following diagram shows how the core components are integrated to ensure the success of the business portal.

Acknowledgements: Support for undertaking this case study was provided by Dom Valerie and John Peterson from Victorian TAFE, who shared with the author their notes from their visit to UCLA in December 2000, prior to the author conducting his interviews with UCLA staff. The author wishes to add his special thanks to UCLA’s Susan Abeles, Don Wirth, Pixie Ogren and Judith Freed, who were extremely generous in assisting with this study for Australian audiences.


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The following diagram captures the planning principles behind UCLA’s business portal.
Diagram 1.7.1: UCLA’s planning principles for its business portal


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