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Don't Let Perfection Get In The Way Of Better

Ms Donna Gallagher,
Ms Terina Stokes

Open Universities Australia

Outmoded technology infrastructure including a bespoke CRM system, highly customised catalogue management system and obsolete web platform restricted how quickly Open Universities Australia (OUA) could respond to changes in an increasingly competitive higher education landscape, and the needs of students to find the right academic program for them. By using a 360-degree view of the student as customer to drive requirements gathering and agile squad-driven decision-making during implementation, OUA began a period of transformation forecasted to take two years; it took eight months.

Whilst the most visible change was a fresh website, it is supported by more than 30 innovative back-end systems; business transformation wasn’t limited to new technology. OUA also changed to an agile business culture, implementing a squad-driven structure enabled agile sprint planning, backlog prioritisation and quick decision-making which was fundamental to our success.

A customer centric approach to initial project scoping revealed much more complexity than was envisaged but rather than wait to perfect the architecture, OUA launched much earlier than we were ready for. This was a bold decision but having on-site vendor teams with specific skills and subject matter experts on staff enabled the quick response to business-critical issues. OUA launched more than 200 system releases in less than three months.

OUA has implemented a cross-cloud solution in which more than 30 student journeys are now triggered by marketing activities. The bene ts to the student and our university partners was immediate. Technology has reduced the number of human touch points from 5 to 2, with time spent down from half an hour to five minutes. An application process which took up to 40 days now takes 7 days. New student enrolments grew by 17%.

Every transformation has challenges and learnings. The key to success was defining a clear scope of work, prioritising critical business scenarios and having one team united by a common goal. OUA didn’t aim for perfection, we wanted to be better, and then continue to get better in future.