Technology-Enabled Business Transformation at Queens University of Charlotte

This year at Queens University of Charlotte’s opening Campus Update for all faculty and staff, I shared about our new vision in ITS. Below is my written script (which I deviated from a bit in the presentation).

I’ve shared in the past the improvements we’ve made in our core technology — faster & more reliable network, new classroom technology, updated software, new computers, and more. I’m really happy to share a different story today. Because building our core technology foundation is now complete, and we’ve put processes in place to keep that foundation up to date in the most cost effective way possible.

Over the last year we’ve begun a shift to a new focus — to enable business transformation throughout the university. What does business transformation mean? It means taking a new look everything the university does and not asking, “How can we do this a little better than we do it now?” but instead asking, “How would we do this if we started from scratch right now?” We’d want processes that are simple, automated, intelligent, and mobile first. And I’m excited to share a few examples of that.

First is our partnership with CAFE, Campus Planning, and members of the faculty to design & implement the university’s first Active Learning Classroom on the lower level of Knight-Crane Hall. It’s a large, flat-floored room with wheeled tables and chairs that can be configured in multiple ways for engaging students in small, collaborative groups or for larger whole groups. Right now the room has a standard classroom computer, projector, and whiteboard, and next month with funding from the Title III grant we’ll install more whiteboards and four big screen displays where students can wirelessly display their laptop, tablet, and phone screens to enable even more collaboration. Look for more information about how to most effectively use that space coming soon from Brian Smentkowski and CAFE.

Next is a our Student Experience Program, made up of a sequence of three related projects.

The first is the project I’m most proud of in my time here: new student recruiting processes enabled by the Slate student recruiting CRM. We’re collaborating with TUG Admissions, Hayworth, McColl School, and the MFA program to replace four different siloed systems with a much simpler unified system and optimized business processes. Just one example is in student application forms. There were previously 17 different student application forms, and the group simplified those to one unified application for undergrads and another for graduate programs. Each application has a common section for basic information and intelligently presents the correct additional questions for each program. The new application forms are live now, and over the next several months more functions will go live including automated email marketing, events management, travel planning, and application review to further unify the operations of these four groups. This has been a tremendous effort of the four recruiting offices, coordinated by ITS and with a big assist from Marketing, and I’d like everyone who’s working on the project to stand and be recognized.

The Enterprise Data Standards project goes hand in hand with the new CRM and recognizes that many of our systems are inextricably linked, that the student data in Slate then flows to our student financial aid system, and then to Jenzabar for course registration, then to ITS systems for student account creation, to Mapworks for retention efforts, to Institutional Effectiveness for reporting, and more. Students express a lot of frustration providing the same data over & over again, and staff spend a ton of time re-entering or fixing this data, so we’re working with all these offices to standardize and govern the data shared among these systems for much more efficient operations.

Finally, the university web site is the first impression of Queens for many, and when our current site was built the newest smartphone was the iPhone 3G, and Instagram hadn’t been invented. The world has changed, and we’re beginning the process now to design & build the next generation of our site.

These are a few of our highest priorities, and we’re working closely with other senior leaders to prioritize where we can make the biggest impact next.