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When it comes to working with higher education organisations, there are a number of common challenges that ERP consultants regularly face. Higher education (HE) implementations have their own set of difficulties too, however.

Degrees of Trust: Why Higher Education Organisations need greater support from ERP consultants

Written by David West-Lewis, Principal Consultant & Adam Unwin, UK Marketing Manager

Having an experienced team of Implementation Consultants working within the ERP context affords Arribatec an inside view on the realities of business change, especially when working with Universities and Higher Education organisations. Once the decision to undergo change has been made, it is our responsibility to guide our clients through that process

The first and foremost thing that ensures that the whole process works is trust.

Trust cannot be simply given. It has to be earned. Universities have been burnt too many times over the years, and their patience has worn thin to trust every ERP consultancy at face value.

For organisations of this scale and complexity, there is no place for vagaries within their implementation plans – too many universities have been burnt too many times over the years by grand ideas that were thin on specifics and detail.

A frustrating and non-realistic process

The “art of the possible” not aligning with the realities of what is actually delivered has left emotional scars on those people that have gone through the frustrating process of inadequate support through the implementation process.

So now consultancy firms are left with a multi-faceted challenge: business transformation, which is already complex in its own right, with Higher Education Institutions that are wary of large-scale changes due to their previous pains and a broader attitude of caution.

It would not be remiss of you at this point to assume that the answer to this pervasive issue is one of high complexity and nearly impossible to accomplish. However, Arribatec finds itself in a position where it has a dedicated team of consultants who have worked within universities and higher education organisations and have first-hand experiences with these pains. They use their experience as a constant reminder of the challenges these businesses face and carry these reminders with them to help serve our customers the best way possible – by respecting their challenges.

Need to see both sides of the implementation process

Arribatec has developed a reputation for working closely and successfully with higher education institutions, including our work with Brunel University, Oxford University, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to name a few examples. The reason Arribatec has acquired this reputation is very simple – they communicate closely with those finance and computing teams in the universities and, working with them directly, are able to take on any issues that might arise together – head-on.

What this means is that Arribatec, as a consultancy, is that they are able to quickly assess what the root cause of any problems might be, and, for the customer, they’re safe in the knowledge these problems and issues will be very often solved before they have chance to arise. A holistic approach, where they operate with consultants directly within the university’s team, is the best way to ensure strong communication, efficient working, and fast, effective solution management.

One of the single greatest assets that Arribatec is able to utilise, making higher education implementation as successful as it is, is our excellent, dedicated Research, Cost and Pricing (RCP) team. This team is unique in expertise and scale, across the whole UK ERP sector, with their own design team and, most importantly, a staff made up of professionals who can see both sides of the implementation process, giving them a superior perspective on the implementation process as a whole.

a woman in mortar board and gown in higher education

How have they been able to do this?


The Arribatec team were once the clients, working within higher education organisations, working to implement a new ERP system or upgrade and often battling against consultants who weren’t listening to their needs and demands, those who were over-promising, or consultants who refused to offer the appropriate aftercare required during the bedding in process.

Personal experience shapes our consultants

The Arribatec team have used their experience of those painful installations and unhelpful consultants to become the very thing they wished they had access to: attentive, openminded consultants who work closely with the organisation to get the job done to as high a standard as is possible.

And this isn’t something that Arribatec tell these higher education organisations and expects them to believe in trust alone. As written above, these institutions have been burned too often before for us to demand they simply accept our word. And so, they don’t.

Arribatec believes that it is perfectly ok to be vetted – whether it be through case studies or even through a small amount of work completed for the client – a try-before-you mindset is not to be baulked when a company is going to be committing to a large scale ERP implementation with a high cost attached. However, they are sure of what they do and what can be offered, so Arribatec has nothing to hide and are very happy to be evaluated.

Working closely with customers engenders trust

This is how Arribatec does things to ensure that our projects work, especially our work with higher education organisations. Our team integrate within the institution’s team, working together and tightly, creating a timeline and pathway to success that is open and, most importantly, agreed upon.

Being onsite, working directly with customers, gives you both a greater understanding of the day-to-day needs but also shows that the consultant is dedicated to the project. By being this close to the implementation, from the initial planning through to launch and troubleshooting in the weeks and months post-launch, Arribatec is able to ensure our higher education customers get a service that is exactly what they want.

As a sector, it is apparent that Arribatec’s pathways to success and techniques working with higher education institutions can only go so far as to ease the fears and stresses of higher education institutions. And that’s why Arribatec’s key selling point, one the whole sector should adopt, is to work closely with the customer to quickly establish trust and the truth.

The truth can be easily managed, telling your clients and customers what will happen and what services you can offer and the approximate timeframe you want to deliver them, but it is impossible the manage the damage that lies, and mistrust can cause, not just to the client but also to the reputation of the industry as a whole.

Specialises in ERP implementations for higher education organisations

These insights and recommendations come directly from the views of our staff, from their being on the ground. Hopefully, it inspires some brilliant people to bridge the gap between the known elements and the fact that digital transformation is here and necessary but that we need the tools and the how to be answered. This is essential for us all, not only Arribatec but ERP suppliers as a whole, as it allows us to do our part in assisting the academic research community in pushing society forward.

For more information about how Arribatec supports and helps Higher Education Organisations.

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