Success Story Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences
Mutual benefit project – Imagine your higher education institution has been operating for 20 years on a single system that houses all data, manages all administrative processes, and is linked to a variety of third-party applications. This system is now supposed to be replaced by a modern integrated campus management system. It goes without saying that such a large-scale project represents an immense challenge for your university and that you not only need a mature system, but also a reliable partner at your side. The Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences in Dornbirn took up this challenge and, after a Europe-wide tender, placed its trust in Simovative GmbH and its campus management system academyFIVE. In the end, both sides benefited from the collaboration.
The Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences started back in 1994 with one of Austria's first UAS degree programmes and is a pioneer among Austrian universities of applied sciences. Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes are offered in the fields of business, technology, design, social services and healthcare as full-time and part-time study formats as well as a dual study models. About 20 years ago, the old system AIS based on Oracle Forms was developed at the university in collaboration with other higher education institutions. This system not only contained the complete core element of the Vorarlberg University, it was also strongly networked with a lot of third-party applications, such as LMS, an external identity management system, accounting and planning tools, and many more. Since AIS had been discontinued in the meantime and the university wanted to professionalise and standardise processes due to its growth, a new permanent and contemporary solution was needed that would meet all of the university's requirements as far as possible. In 2014, internal preparations for the large-scale project began, and in 2015 a Europe-wide tender was launched to find the ideal provider. 768 criteria were created for this purpose based on standardised processes, which the future provider was expected to fulfil as extensively as possible.
The replacement of the old system had to be done in one go. A sequential introduction was not possible due to the many dependencies. Therefore, there was a tight and fixed schedule that had to be adhered to. The transfer of the large volume of data was a major challenge. In order to be able to test the system with real data as early as possible and to avoid any risk during go-live, a permanent data migration with a considerable scope had to take place. Furthermore, customer-specific requirements were implemented within the framework of the academyFIVE standard software, and some new technologies were introduced, such as the digital signature or an interface for Office365. Over 100 individual document templates and reports were also integrated into the system. Moreover, a large number of third-party systems were individually connected via academyFIVE SOAP and REST API. All in all, the situation was challenging on both sides, and in the end Simovative also benefited greatly from the collaboration with the Vorarlberg University: in order to be able to meet the specified requirements, new modules were developed that expanded the functional scope of the standard academyFIVE software many times over.
The requirements documentation left enough design options to map the requirements in an optimised way. The university started a Europe-wide tender and finally chose the standard software academyFIVE. After a successful kick-off, the process harmonisation phase was started immediately and workshops were held on site. At the same time, the system was implemented on schedule and the necessary programming and adjustments were carried out. Thus, academyFIVE could be accepted successfully and on time and the training for key users and process owners started. Simovative thus succeeded in making this major project and the complicated move from the legacy system live within the tight schedule without any major delays.
The customer's conclusion
In an interview with Egon Niederacher, Head of IT at Vorarlberg University, we talked about the most important reasons for choosing academyFIVE, among other things:
‘We were aware that this would be a tough project with challenges on both sides; so we decided to go the route of a Europe-wide tender, for which we created a catalogue with 768 criteria. In the end, among all the applicants, academyFIVE was the system with the broadest range of functions and state-of-the-art technology that could cover almost all requirements. The project duration was also comparatively reasonable – with other providers we would have had to reckon with three to five years.’
Niederacher also highlights the challenge with administrative staff. Major changes are usually associated with a certain degree of uncertainty. Thanks to Simovative's intensive training programme, the employees were optimally guided into the new system. The creation of documentation was also essential for this project.
‘Since the start of the project, we have been happy to regularly recommend academyFIVE to our colleagues at other higher education institutions. The administrative staff has now settled into the new system and can work more efficiently. The entire project execution was very satisfactory due to the use of agile methods, and we now have a permanent solution that is also adapted to changing requirements. In this way, we will continue to benefit from our decision in the future.’
Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences
Dornbirn - Austria