Shattering silos for enhanced efficiency in Higher Education

Mike Lewis
Mike Lewis

Operational efficiency lies at the heart of financial stability, competitiveness and sustained success across higher education. Nevertheless, achieving such efficiency is often impeded by departmental silos. These barriers pose significant challenge to leaders, who find themselves contending with coordination issues in their pursuit of progress: but there is a solution.

Data silos as the number-one barrier to efficiency in higher education

The struggle against siloed, legacy data systems is real and consequential. These outdated structures give rise to a cascade of problems, from data inconsistency and redundancy to limited interoperability, inefficient workflows and a glaring lack of real-time insights.

When operating on multiple legacy systems, data is stored in different formats. This often renders the wealth of information available to a university useless when it comes to analysing and gaining insights from student, staff and stakeholders. What’s more, the inaccuracies potentially introduced into the systems due to repeat manual entries can give rise to errors that threaten the efficacy of any efficiency initiatives, particularly when inconsistencies hinder rapid decision making and planning.

Of course, there’s the issue of limited interoperability, too, with siloed systems making it difficult for departments to share information and communicate with one another. This can result in data islands, making it challenging to gain a comprehensive view of the institution’s operations and performance. The resulting lack of real-time insights only complicates matters, making it difficult for key decision makers to access timely information, thereby impeding their ability to respond quickly to emerging issues and opportunities.

In a world increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats, the security concerns associated with these aging systems further complicate the issue, with the need to protect sensitive student information and institutional data remaining paramount. This perhaps explains why – according to a survey conducted by QuickPoll – a staggering 58% of higher education leaders feel their current data structure is inadequate.

The need for transformative change

University Vice Chancellors and college leaders alike must turn to a centralised view of  as a solution. Indeed, the efficiency-boosting benefits of centralised data management cannot be overstated.

A unified data repository:

Adopting a more centralised approach allows leaders to consolidate diverse data sources into one single, unified view. This facilitates a more comprehensive understanding of institutional information, thereby reducing data blindness and providing a more accurate, complete representation of operations.

Improved data quality:

Centralisation facilitates better data governance and quality control, too. With a single source of truth, data inconsistencies and redundancies are minimised, ensuring that information remains accurate, up to date and reliable. This improves the overall quality of university decisions.

Enhanced reporting and analytics:

The robust reporting and analytics capabilities introduced when switching from siloed to a centralised view is also vital, allowing decision makers to access real-time insights, generate meaningful reports and conduct more efficient data analysis. This allows informed decisions to be made quickly, leading to strategic planning based on accurate, timely information.

Streamlined workflows:

For university staff in particular, switching to a more centralised view of data means more integrated, streamlined workflows. The need for redundant data entry and other unnecessary manual processes is replaced by automation features that serve to reduce bureaucratic overhead, allowing teams to focus on more value-added tasks that drive greater efficiency instead.

More efficient operations:

More pertinently, a centralised view of data allows universities to optimise different operational processes, from admissions and student enrolment to financial management and human resources. A more efficient and interconnected approach leads to improved productivity and resource utilisation, with Forrester confirming a 12% increase in productivity across teams working on everything from admissions and the student experience to fundraising and alumni engagement when  CRM is implemented.

From siloed systems to sustained success

A successful transition to a centralised approach to data unlocks numerous benefits, enhancing operational efficiency and positioning higher education institutions for sustained success.

Professional change management services like those provided by Equantiis can help with smooth and successful transitions, be it convincing key decision-makers of the impact and benefits of change, identifying the most appropriate technologies or engaging teams early to include their views and challenges into the process. By systematically breaking down silos and  barriers, then implementing centralised data-management, leaders can pave the way to a more prosperous future for higher education.

Interested in finding out more? Contact a member of the Equantiis team today to book an initial meeting.

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More about the author

Mike Lewis
Mike Lewis - Commercial Director

As Commercial Director, his focus is on the Sales and Marketing aspects of the business. Passionate about value-oriented sales, cross-functional stakeholder engagement and effective change management, with the goal of always focusing on delivering material impact to our clients. Across his career, Mike has worked with a variety of sectors, including Not For Profit (Charity and Housing), Healthcare (Public and Private), Finance, Banking, Retail, Distribution, Manufacturing, Automotive and Broadcasting. Outside of work, Mike is a keen DIYer, was a skydiving coach for over 21 years, holds a Private Pilot’s Licence, RYA Competent Crew (Sailing) and is passionate about all things music related.