The Hard Truth: What Nobody Is Telling You About Your Legacy Portal

January 30, 2018  |  by: Tami Nealy
Campus Portal
College Portal
Higher Ed Tech

It’s often said that when your ears are burning, it means someone is talking about you. Might it be the same with higher education technology? Is tech burning? Because everybody’s talking.

Conversations about how to improve access to campus services are happening in the dark corners of campus. In secret. What does everyone know but are afraid to say?

Many technologies that were built on campus or purchased more than a decade ago just aren’t working anymore. The world is changing. How we consume information is changing. It’s time to take a serious look at your campus portal. Does it meet the needs of your users?

Modern Portal = Greater Access

Like other technology leaders, Brad Wheeler, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO at Indiana University found himself in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s faced with the challenge of how students, faculty, staff and admins could find things with the advent of the world wide web. The hot idea back then was to create a portal, so Indiana University created OneStart and it was supposed to be the way to find services. “But over time, it got a little junked up, just like a closet, because everybody moved in and by the time we got to 2010 – 2013, we knew we had a problem,” said Wheeler. “I knew after a dozen years of our portal, we needed a new approach.”

Wheeler and his team at Indiana developed One.IU, an app store or service discovery tool (a modern portal replacement) that allowed users to simply search, click and be done. After refining the software, Brad and his team began working with rSmart to take the portal replacement solution to market.

Upon learning how a next-gen portal can unlock opportunities for users across all campuses, Villanova University’s interest was piqued. In looking to launch a modern portal, they were faced with a handful of challenges to overcome from their legacy portal. From authentication obstacles to increasing the quantity of content available, Villanova found their answer in OneCampus.

They launched the latest version of MyNova in November 2017, turning off their legacy portal. The modern OneCampus interface combined with the ability to publish unlimited content to users resulted in a dramatic reduction of support calls for both IT and business areas because everything was streamlined in a single location.

Your Users Demand 24/7 Access

Oral Roberts University was challenged to provide information and resources to students, faculty and staff 24/7. As they explored solutions to help them achieve their communication goals, they were also looking for a partner who would bring innovation and thought-leadership to the process.

“Since launching OneCampus, we’ve improved productivity and efficiency in our IT department by 40 percent,” said Chief Information Officer Michael Matthews. “In just two years, we’re managing 20 or more applications with seven less people – and much of that is because of what we’ve done with OneCampus. It allows us to consolidate and streamline serviceability.”

A few years back, Wayne Smutz, dean of continuing education and Extension at UCLA was asked a series of questions related to higher education institutions being under immense pressure to improve their level of service for students but needing to meet this demand with significantly fewer resources available. Focusing on high-touch, high-tech, Smutz explained how introducing new technologies and tools that allow staff to focus on high-touch tasks allows institutions to improve their overall customer service while also reducing operating costs.

Instead of investing additional resources into a legacy portal, look for solutions that are low maintenance and upgrades and enhancements are standard, and FREE.

No More University of Notre LAME 

Over time, the University of Notre Dame recognized how their legacy portal solution wasn’t able to scale and meet the needs of the tech-savvy generation that doesn’t know life before Google. They saw first hand how an outdated portal required significant management and updates. (Read: investments in human capital and financial capital.)

Because the Fighting Irish don’t find comfort in stagnation, they began their search for a replacement portal solution. The review process didn’t just sit within the confines of the Office of Information and Technologies. It extended across campus to include individuals from the Registrar’s Office, Student Enrollment, Human Resources, Finance and First Year of Studies. This wasn’t going to be a technology solution, this was going to be a campus-wide service discovery solution.

Getting all areas of campus involved in the review of your technology solutions can have an immediate impact in culture across your campus(es). Published in EdTech Magazine’s IT Teams Can Influence Culture Across Campus, David Hutchins explains, “Each of these areas is touched, in some fashion, by the tech solutions that IT delivers. Such influence goes beyond specific software or mobile apps to encompass the way that people engage with technology, the capabilities it makes possible (or not), the way tech initiatives are communicated and the way decisions around tech are made. All of this means that IT departments have a direct bearing on campus culture through the day-to-day experiences of staff, faculty and students.”

At Notre Dame, Scott Kirner, Manager of Application Services, was also focused on ease of use with OneCampus. “In our initial proof of concept [with OneCampus], we learned how easy it is to publish tasks, configure the look and feel, and how we might set up categories, metadata, screenshots and task icon creation process,” he said.

The ability to apply custom branding, manage via a distributed publishing model and the simplicity of the user interface were each factors leading to Notre Dame’s selection of OneCampus, the next-gen campus portal offered by rSmart.

“OneCampus has been easy for us to manage and maintain,” said Kirner. “Students, faculty and staff are always able to access what they need.”

No more whispering about your technology shortcomings. It’s time to listen to your trusted peers about how they left their legacy portals in the past. Request a demo with OneCampus and see what the next generation has in store for your campus.

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