Elizabeth (Beth) Hayes
Deputy CIO & Director of Enterprise Services, Vassar College
Data to Decisions
Based in Poughkeepsie, New York, about 75 miles north of New York City, Vassar College was founded in 1861 to provide a liberal arts education to young women, an education equal to that of the best men’s colleges of the day. Today, Vassar is recognized as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, maintaining a high educational standard for both women and men. Vassar instills intellectual freedom in its 2,435 undergraduate students to become original thinkers. The institution guarantees housing for all four years so that its students focus on their academic life. With $983M endowment, Vassar has enabled its students to get involved with more than 100 student organizations, and compete in the NCAA Division III varsity sports. The average freshman retention rate is 95%.
At Vassar College, they needed an effective data integration strategy to integrate disparate data coming from on-premise and cloud-based systems and applications. Integrations ran on separate schedules and servers with no central management, and required engineers to hand-code thousands of lines of custom code that took weeks to months to complete. As a result, the IT team had a long queue of integration projects and users could not obtain data they needed in a timely manner. They needed to move and manage large amounts of data from existing on-premises and cloud-based financial and HR systems and applications into Workday as they continued to optimize Vassar's cloud first IT strategy and architecture.
Without effective data integration, students and faculty were not able to make decisions or complete tasks. Students seeking to buy class materials online experienced difficulty finding up-to-date information. They would have trouble buying the required books if they added a new class because the bookstore’s point-of-sale system did not recognize the student as a member of the new class. The data resided in the school’s core financial system but was not updated until the next day in the bookstore’s system. The academic programs that the faculty and staff ran are put on hold as they cannot make timely decisions due to the missing data they would receive from these disparate systems.
After evaluating many options in the market, Vassar chose SnapLogic because it is built for the cloud, and supports hybrid cloud application and data integration. The platform offers the ability to scale by allowing the team to build and manage integrations more quickly and it offers an easy to use interface, eliminating labor-intensive efforts of hand-coding and hard-coding integrations.
SnapLogic Enterprise Integration Cloud helps Vassar College as it moves data from its existing ERP application to Workday, and also support the college as it pursues a cloud-first IT strategy. To get a complete view of the data, SnapLogic is used to integrate Workday with related systems like benefits providers, banking, and student employment systems. With SnapLogic, the team started transitioning from their legacy ERP technology to Workday and other cloud applications. They addressed the dozens of applications residing outside of Workday that did not connect together.
Prior to implementing SnapLogic, connecting applications and systems together were extremely labor-intensive. The process required developers to hand-code and hard-code applications. As a result, the IT team had many projects waiting in a long queue.
With SnapLogic’s code-less connectors, the team has been able to reduce expenses and defer the costs of integrating with Workday, the replacement for our 20-year-old legacy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. SnapLogic has helped solved the bookstore problems, integrating Workday’s ERP system with the Bookstore’s point-of-sale system in real-time. They were also able to integrate the school’s learning management system (Moodle) with student course enrollment data. This system alignment assists faculty members to quickly determine if a student has dropped a class, and students to accurately and expeditiously track their homework assignments and grades.
Approximately 50 percent of the integrations with Workday’s HR system has been completed, saving 40 percent of what it had previously cost to forge these connections. The college also is realizing a 50 percent cost savings in its non-Workday integration projects involving other applications. By using SnapLogic, IT reduced by at least 50 percent of the time it used to take them to complete integration projects. As a result, complete data from these integration projects are accessible to students, faculty, and staff more rapidly for decision-making. The IT team can easily see the long-term benefits leveraging both cloud providers to increase their efficiency, service, and speed. Now they can say yes to people who come to them for help regarding integrating data across various applications.
SnapLogic Enterprise Integration Cloud and SnapLogic Managed Services
I like to think we are at the cutting edge of innovation at Vassar College. I share with my fellow Chief Information Officers at other colleges and universities that we are now able to undertake truly complex integrations, rapidly pushing them through in a standardized format. We are working towards building a shared integration library to common education systems to share data real-time within a college. At Vassar, we are leading change in higher education through technology and other colleges and universities are following our lead.
There was an end user who delayed in asking us for assistance to integrate applications because he expected that the project would take the typical weeks to complete, but needed to extract data from those applications to meet a project deadline. We were able to use SnapLogic to complete it in hours instead, allowing the end-user to get access to the data they needed. We got applause!