The Outcomes Framework Initiative


Join us in creating the future of system selection in higher education.

Read on to follow the progress of this exciting new and collaborative effort.


Advantiv is leading a collaborative initiative to create a new, community-based outcomes resource for enterprise software system planning and selection in higher education.

The purpose is to improve the justification, quality, and impact of enterprise software system selections through the intentional integration of measurable business outcomes, while reducing time, cost and risk for all parties involved. This includes streamlined RFPs that are focused on business outcomes, allowing institutional project teams to spend more time with stakeholders and vendors on outcomes, strategy and fit, and less time and resources on low value feature/function shoot-outs.

The centerpiece of this new approach is a business outcomes library, called the Outcomes Framework, consisting of a comprehensive set of model business outcomes documents, including peer examples, best practices, lessons learned, and other resources specifically designed to support outcomes-driven enterprise software system selection, implementation and optimization.

We are making progress. Read on, learn more, then join us.

Outcomes Framework Kick-Off: A Success

The Outcomes Framework kick-off event was a success. This online, interactive, professionally facilitated event featured 24 participants from around the U.S., representing over 450 years of experience serving higher education as CIOs and administrators, ERP vendors, and system planning and selection consultants.

The primary objectives of the kick-off event:

  • Confirm and reveal across-the-board alignment in support of the intentional integration of measurable business outcomes in software system selection (the Outcomes Concept)
  • Experience the innovative collaborative approach that will be used to help create the Outcomes Framework, the resource that will bring the Outcomes Concept to life.

The team generated over 600 responses and ratings in just 90 minutes, revealing clear, and sometimes passionate, support for this concept and great ideas and feedback to help ensure its successful creation and launch. (Curious about how we did this?)

A summary of the kick-off results and a preview of what happens next are presented below.

What Happens Next

With the success of the kick-off, work will begin on the creation of the Outcomes Framework.

Over the next few months, Advantiv will conduct online summits with higher education professionals to collaboratively develop lists of outcomes that could or should be expected from investments in new systems.

Those lists will drive research and documentation of model business outcome documents that, collectively, will form the Outcomes Framework.

Outcomes Framework Kick-Off Event: Summary of Results

Participant Background

Primary Role

Role # Participants
Enterprise software vendor 10 (41%)
Consulting services 7 (29%)
Higher education administration 6 (25%)
Other 1 (4%)

Years Involved in Higher Education

Duration # Participants
More than 20 years 14 (58%)
15-20 years 4 (16%)
3-8 years 4 (16%)
9-14 years 1 (4%)
Less than 3 years 1 (4%)

Alignment With Higher Education

The Question: 

All of you on our session today are either working in a higher education institution or provide services to higher education. As you think about your role and experiences with higher education, what do you enjoy most about this sector? Why is it important to you personally?

See the Responses
  • We change lives and help prepare the leaders of the future
  • Collaboration
  • Level of passion of client
  • Passion of the people who work in this sector to contribute to education and their students
  • The collegiality among institutions, and (some) vendors, to meet the needs related to educating students.
  • The mission and vocation towards improving lives and working with individuals who share that passion.
  • I enjoy the collaborative nature of higher education and the overall mission.
  • Professionals in this sector share and generate new ideas – we are less competitive with each other
  • The passion higher ed professionals have for their students
  • Helping students achieve their educational goals to the highest level.
  • Enjoy finding solutions to institutional problems
  • Contributes to efficiency and effectiveness of higher education
  • Most interesting vertical in enterprise apps
  • For students success
  • An educated society is a peaceful society
  • To effect students to full fill their educational potential
  • Move to saas solution consideration
  • The ability to help change the direction of education
  • To provide support to institutions who drive student achievement and success
  • I think we genuinely want to see each other succeed
  • Complexity and variety of business processes, support research
  • Provides an opportunity to better our global market
  • The collaborative nature of customers
  • Being part of something that is good for society
  • Impact positively the future leaders of the professions we educate
  • The connected nature of education
  • And, of course, collaboration and cooperation
  • Ability to see beyond today’s need
  • Business model needs to change
  • Same issues sometimes a matter of scale

Factors Influencing Enterprise Systems in Higher Education

Top 12 Factors

Legacy systems needing to be upgraded The need to support faster decision making in the institution
The need for more efficient business processes Education institutions need to get more nimble
The need for better visibility into data/information Impact of online education/remote students
Student and faculty expectations are higher The advent of cloud-based technologies
The need to support work force ready students in a new way Uncertainty of future funding
More focus on results/accountability The need to build infrastructure for the future
See Full Detail

Q: It seems that nearly every higher education entity is looking, or soon will be, at the implementation of new enterprise-level software systems to support its organization. What are the factors that are driving this need? Why are enterprise systems accelerating in higher education?

  • Focus on learner as a consumer
  • Aging legacy systems that haven’t met need for past few years (or more) and that certainly will not meet future need
  • People are expensive, systems are cheaper
  • Technology changes
  • Decreased funding from the government
  • Lower TOC
  • Flexible education options, remote students
  • Cost and complexity of legacy systems
  • Third-Wave of higher education – Connection between programs and employment
  • Student expectations
  • The business of education has changed. Technology has evolved. The market needs has become increasingly competitive.
  • Desire to integrate our systems to leverage investments in technology and data
  • Decreased “traditional” student population with increased demand and expectations
  • Level of expenditure in support current on-premise applications
  • Redefining business process
  • Demographic changes
  • Finances – need more efficient business processes
  • Infrastructure simplification
  • Higher education as a whole is changing
  • Change is happening at a faster pace and our students are demanding more from us.
  • More focus on accountability both to the business and to the student
  • Platforms for future growth rather than products for past (specific) needs
  • Need to dive deeper into the data to intervene for student success.
  • The non-traditional student is the new traditional student
  • In many cases, my institutions are at the end of the lifecycle of current systems and need to refresh software/technology to drive down cost and get better data
  • Increased competition with those in the “for profit” or “national institution” perspective
  • Complexity surrounding security
  • Older homegrown systems are increasingly using outdated technology while also needing to be more responsive to the changing institutional landscape.
  • Changing world of technology and indeed it is a world, and getting smaller every day, thus we are being effected on a world wide scope today.
  • Changing needs, demographics, more educated consumer, measurable outcomes
  • Limited capability of current on-premise solutions to meet the on-demand nature and mobile experience of today’s student population
  • Need decrease opportunity cost from outdated processes
  • TCO for operational expenses.
  • Answer for globalization
  • Institutions need to operate more like a business
  • Graduate employability
  • Technology is changing quickly – cloud accessible systems are now in the forefront
  • Expectations for mobility and ease by our consumers have grown dramatically with technology growth.
  • Need far better integration of academic and administrative systems to support teaching, learning, research and institutional goals.
  • Entrepreneurism hitting the business model at scale
  • An increased expectation for mobile/anywhere model like other businesses from our consumers
  • The blending of traditional and non-traditional learning
  • Uncertainty in funding and sustainability of existing
  • The needs for higher education in 21st century.
  • Continuation of the learning experience beyond graduation
  • Desire to move to cloud rather than on-premises for lower TCO, improved access, and improved ability to keep up with software updates.
  • External disruptive influences
  • There is a need to focus on what the “outcome” of higher education is — getting a job vs getting a degree
  • More efficient and powerful decision making and planning capabilities are desired by institutions to drive strategic planning.
  • Aging of administration and gap in next generation of leaders
  • Vendors taking their eye off the ball and not innovating with their existing products. Trying to find vendors who are forward looking
  • The cost of diverse stand alone systems has passed the point where they add value in excess of cost.
  • Learner journey and the ability to support them in the way they are used to working
  • Increased need to update 24 by 7 student, faculty, and staff access to educational environment
  • Stick to core competencies vs. Running software
  • Student Success – performance-based funding.
  • Increased demand for remote working
  • Continued revenue and financial pressures
  • Increased need for companies to drive innovation
  • Meet expectations of modern technology users

Challenges in Successfully Selecting and Implementing Enterprise Systems

Top 12 Challenges

Resistance to change within organization Difficult to measure true benefit of the outcome
The overall cost to implement/maintain Scope creep/change that occurs upon implementation
Challenge of changing underlying business process The time it takes to get a clear sense of requirements
Dealing with the complexity of the integration Aligning a vendor solution to the institution strategy
Getting senior management on board Training and engagement by end users
Institutions focused on features rather than business process Fighting the trend of shrinking IT budgets
See Full Detail

Q: Now, based on your experiences as well as discussions with other colleagues, what do you feel are the most significant challenges in successfully selecting and implementing enterprise level systems in higher education institutions?

  • People don’t know what they want
  • Finding a platform that is open, with open access to our data via robust api’s
  • Resistance to change
  • Building collaboration across the institution
  • Meeting the needs of mobile users (employees and students)
  • Senior management need to support and champion
  • Cost to implement and maintain
  • Feature bake-offs
  • Institutions looking at checklists of features not business process
  • Lack of updated business processes
  • Decision making process
  • Resistance to change
  • Understanding the degree of change this is required to adopt the software
  • Understanding and deciding upon actual requirements vs wants
  • Predictability of costs to implement
  • People can’t see beyond how they do something today
  • Expectations are unrealistic
  • Budget reality of 2018 don’t match cost/risk of SIS replacement
  • Higher ed institutions are unaware of tech trends
  • Institutional challenges with undertaking required change management
  • Institutions wanting to do the same thing they are doing now in a new system
  • Determining the facts vs. Fiction
  • Justifying the cost
  • Shrinking IT budgets
  • Governance
  • Some try to use software to manage people rather than dealing with management issues
  • Time to implementation and nature and complexity of integrations. Internal organizational change management.
  • Budget and cost
  • Lack of understanding of solution capabilities
  • Business process support
  • Change management
  • Difficult to measure benefits / outcomes – both in short and long term — ROI
  • Unrealistic expectations of cloud
  • Meeting the needs of more strategic and differentiating processes
  • Lack of vision to help drive the decision process
  • Sales people are not very clear in describing what is base vs add on
  • Deriving selection of vendor solution based on alignment to institution strategy and objectives
  • Integration with other systems, defining requirements that are flexible enough for the future, decision making with large groups of individuals with competing priorities
  • Influenced by look not actual business process capabilities
  • Misaligned priority for strategic vs. Commodity systems in Higher Ed
  • No one wants to change business process
  • Lack of understanding of business process
  • People wanting change, then fighting any new business processes or features because that “isn’t how we’ve always done it”
  • Vendors have a hard time delivering to the complex higher ed needs
  • Sales people do not demo software in way that really mimics how we do work
  • Lack of understanding around cloud
  • Resistance to change both in systems and processes
  • Inadequate institution staffing
  • Selecting the right answer vs. The safest & most defensible answer
  • Fear of change
  • Getting buy in from stakeholders: faculty, students, staff and communities
  • Change is hard
  • Silo’d decision making
  • Systems that are easily usable for the one individualistic environment that can be searched for data
  • Understanding how data moves from one business process to another
  • Not thoroughly comparing the features of the selected system
  • Functional staff completely underestimate the work and time required to implement
  • Truly understanding differentiation among available systems
  • Challenges to working differently by the staff
  • Lack of “ownership” of the system – not owned by IT or vendor but FUNCTIONAL staff
  • User-exposed complexity
  • Determining when sales people (and other vendor reps) are overstating a feature, or misrepresenting features
  • Functional staff still see these as primarily IT projects
  • Business users do not always step up as owners of the process or the project
  • Always saying Yes for every process instead of providing realistic answers
  • Solutions are selected before goals and requirements are identified
  • Too much group think
  • Institutions struggle with applying the technology while vendors have a hard time speaking to meaningful implementation methods
  • Business mapping is less considered
  • Transactional thinking vs analytical or strategic thinking
  • Inadequate trained consultants in new cloud solutions
  • Support and involvement by executive management to lead the way
  • Adoption of technology once implemented
  • Understand how the data being captured can be used to answer strategic questions
  • Moving to a model with departments need to own and understand the system rather than IT. Much more of an issue with modern platforms that allow end users to configure rather than legacy systems that constrained
  • Lack of business process optimization up front
  • Translating strategic plans into realistic business goals
  • Workarounds of existing systems and process have become standard processes and difficult to change
  • Conflict between decision makers and those tasked with implementing
  • Disconnect between leaders and users
  • Support consideration 24/7
  • Faculty resistance to Admin systems
  • Costs associated with training on new systems (more people needing increasingly expensive training)
  • Lack of buy in for solution from functional users
  • “We gave you ALL this money, why is it so hard to implement?”
  • Y to map out business prior to implementation
  • Too many competing priorities for those implementing
  • People do not realize how much work is involved and the time it takes to choose the right vendor and implement the system effectively and optimize its features and functionality.
  • Different processes being used in evaluation process
  • Iness areas necessary for connection not considered


The One Most Significant Challenge

The Question: 

As you reflect on all of the challenges we identified, as well as your own additional experiences, what do you personally feel is the ONE MOST SIGNIFICANT challenge to the successful selection and implementation of enterprise systems in higher education today? Why is this challenge so significant? Why haven’t we been able to resolve the challenge? Please be as specific and persuasive as you can.

See the Responses
  • It is hard for departmental users to take ownership of and responsibility for the systems that they depend on and use every day. They still want IT to be the keeper of all knowledge (and the group that makes all changes, explains all features, etc) when the software industry is moving in the exact opposite direction.
  • Org change management
  • Unquestionably, the failure to distinguish between “can” and “should” in implementation, and the lack of institutional discipline to break through old business process habits combine to create the biggest challenge.
  • Having a clear vision and strategy that is shared within our community and which aligns to the capability of the vendor’s solution – quite simply having a partner that works to ensure we are successful.
  • Solutions are selected before goals and requirements are identified. Users see a demo or hear about a success story at another institution and decide they have found the holy grail. Then they buy the shiny new object. Months into the implementation they discover it doesn’t really do what they need…we really need to start by understanding what problem we are trying to solve and then find the right tool.
  • Identifying with the culture of the company that an institution wants to do business with – for a long duration “marriage” it is essential that the vendor possess a culture that aligns to that of the institution. The challenge is hard to resolve because the institution cannot assess a 360 degree view from a demo and in limited interaction with sales people.
  • A lack of Change Management – People are afraid to do their work a new way and don’t want to change. This often occurs when there is a lack of project communications, before, during and after vendor selection. Also, training on the new system is often weak and usually does not show users how their old ways are being replaced in the new world.
  • The most significant challenge I see is related to convincing long-tenured employees that there is a new, better way to manage the business processes/run the institution…the current way isn’t necessarily still the best way. The challenge is deeply rooted in time and comfort with the way things have been done. We haven’t been able to resolve the challenge because people are intimidated by and feel threatened by change.
  • Choosing a solution that has no potential of growing up with the institution.
  • There are not a great variety of systems out there that are flexible enough for individualistic institutions, and folks tend then to stay with what they currently have because there is less retraining to be done. … Not wanting to change. Not sure what would resolve it.
  • Since most administrative users experience a limited number of systems in their work life – they are unable to see how to do things differently – they focus on the number of steps or data entry or route a task takes rather than understanding what the ultimate goal of a given process is — so they are reluctant to change a process or explore a different way of doing something – institutions don’t want to delve into and undergo change management — this needs to be focused on for a solid selection and implementation
  • The inability for real business process requirements to be checked against or aligned with the business processes delivered in the products. Unique processes, which are often a differentiator for an institution, are a significant issue when selecting software that supports these business processes. It is difficult to resolve because there seems to be few ways to change or enhance the software, especially now with cloud-based “shared” software.
  • Lack of effective leadership within institutions driving the process from start to finish, and lack of emphasis on vendors’ part to foster the leadership needed by the institutions. Too many institutions just think “we need new systems” without the proper planning, and too many vendors think “we need to sell another school”.
  • The “hard” challenges like money, time, etc. Can usually be overcome with some creativity and good negotiating. The real impediment is inability or no motivation to make business process changes. The political and social environment of higher education administration makes change in a shared governance environment extremely hard. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard “we’ve always done it this way.”
  • The most significant challenge is the alignment between the institutional outcomes and technology strategy/vendor selection. This challenge encompasses most other issues. If the alignment is not there, change management, scope creep, requirements, business requirements, process upgrades and value propositioning cannot occur. While this is a high-level challenge, the direction must be set at the beginning. Furthermore, because the alignments aren’t often set vendors have a hard time understanding what is most important and how to align their technology and services to support.
  • Resolving the complexity and risk of selecting new enterprise apps as many of the business drivers are/have changed is not something most folks at Higher Ed institutions today are prepared for. Combined with relatively few CLEAR measures of success, and a mindset that the decision must last the institution for decades. Resulting in analysis paralysis.
  • Resistance to change across the organization remains the most significant issue. Institutions are not run top-down like businesses. A 10 – 1 vote in Higher Ed can be a “tie”. Most institutions lack the dynamic & engaged leadership required to align all parties to change.
  • I think the one most significant challenge to the successful selection and implementation of enterprise systems in higher education today is getting full community buy-in on a cost-effective, outcomes based solution that will serve a variety of stakeholders and business needs. One of the biggest pieces that gets in the way is the higher education culture. Sorting out a clear and effective way to sort out governance for impactful IT decisions helps, but doesn’t always help to get past cultural elements within higher ed.
  • Change management and setting expectations.
  • Significant challenge – finding the appropriate balance between cost, cultural change and measurable outcome of the ERP project. The balance is dependent on leadership’s appetite for change, ERP budget compared to other investments and cultural buyin. Difficulty – many leaders don’t want to be involved as the project is high risk and ERP does not really matter to students. Unable to resolve – that ERP has made a difference – measurable improvements in efficiency, time savings, and adoption.
  • The biggest challenge related to the selection of enterprise systems is institutions that look at a laundry list of features rather than thinking about how the solution might function in terms of institutional business processes. Most institutions do not consider the departmental work streams and the processes needed to support them. In some cases as they are implementing they do not understand how the feature they saw or read about does not function within the processes they are familiar with or used to performing. The flip side may be true as well which is leveraging delivered work streams and processes to improve efficiencies or customer satisfaction. We haven’t been able to resolve this because we tend to let institutions run the process they way they want instead of trying to leverage a best process based approach that can guide them to answers they seek.
  • Customer persistent and willing naiveté about what systems can really do. This is significant because it creates misalignment of customer expectations versus what the team and software can deliver. We have not been able to solve this customers and their organizations are risk averse.

Describing an Outcomes Framework

The Question: 

All of you on our session today have been involved in discussions with Advantiv Solutions on the concept of an ‘Outcomes Framework’ as an approach to higher education enterprise system selection and implementation support. Imagine you were speaking to a higher education stakeholder who had NOT heard of an ‘Outcomes Framework’ approach. How would you describe WHAT it is and WHY it matters?

See the Responses
  • The Outcomes Framework helps us determine – in advance – how we’re going to measure the value of our implementation to the institution. Not just the cost, but measurable, demonstrable improvements in the way we conduct our business.
  • Right now, I really don’t think I could articulate Outcomes Framework.
  • Aligning what the system will deliver to impact the outcomes as defined by the institution in their respective strategic plan.
  • What are you hoping to achieve by moving to a new technology platform? What outcomes are you looking for at a high level?
  • The outcomes framework helps to establish the “why” of what we are doing. What measurable outcomes will we see as a result of completing a particular implementation? Once we establish the outcomes, then that info can guide us to a better selection process.
  • I think that the model is to first decide what outcomes you are seeking and then back into the features and functions that are necessary to achieve that goal. Focusing on features rather than the overall goal can lead to a dysfunctional system(s) where the individual features don’t integrate. Starting with the goal, and then “designing backwards” to understand the features that can get you there ensures that the prize is in mind and helps weed out less essential features.
  • An outcomes framework enables an institution to make a product/service selection based on the business outcomes that product/service enables vs. Driving a selection based on features/functions of the product/service.
  • Outcomes Framework is a methodology that allows institutions to be able to identify key performance measures as the basis for making a vendor selection process, as opposed to product features. Being able to make a selection process based on outcome measures will allow for improved selection process where the vendor solution and services align to critical business criteria of the institution.
  • A set of business models and practices that support and enhance the quest for implementing software that delivers true outcomes
  • Understanding at a detailed level how the implementation of the enterprise system will align and advance the outcomes most important to the institution whether it be recruiting, retention, completion, student debt reduction, etc.
  • It provides community-based learnings across the institutions that can be leveraged for the greater good to the students and for process improvement leading to greater efficiencies
  • An Outcomes Framework focuses on the end-result of a process — not the individual detailed steps in how to get there but what is the end result you want. It matters because if you build the process with the end game in sight, it’s likely to better meet your needs
  • Outcomes framework resembles Appreciative Inquiry in some respect. It is focused on action-based research where participants are asked to identify the ideal outcomes, design the path to achievement–including barriers–which ideally create a method of achievement.
  • Building a new administrative processing environment (SIS, FS, HCM) often winds up focusing on the time details and loses sight of the goals of the massive investment. An outcome framework focuses on identifying the outcomes/goals of the project and then using that to drive the underlying organizational changes needed to achieve the desired outcomes/goals.
  • An outcomes framework helps to connect the work we do with the impact we want to have/the goals we’re trying to meet. Starting with the goals is critical when implementing enterprise systems because it helps keep diverse teams (from the business and IT) focused on where we’re going, which helps when decisions need to be made.
  • Identifying a high level objective that justifies the implementation, then building underlying requirements based on dimensions of accomplishing the business process outcomes that support the objective. For example, enroll students in X number of steps, at X volume for 3 standard enrollment models.
  • Outcomes framework focuses the effort of system selection on the things that truly matter to the institution – whether it’s student success, admin efficiency, whatever. The approach emphasizes truly listening to institution stakeholders to learn what they want rather than emphasizing feature/function points that are mostly commodity items in any system. This allows the creation of a template from within which the vendor can describe solutions.
  • A framework around measurable outcomes that provides input into the evaluation and ultimate decision process for business systems. The framework provides a benchmark of outcomes others have documented related to the benefits they have achieved from a deployment of the system.
  • Comprehensive way and proven and developed model of helping stakeholders select a system that can work for them.
  • This is a means to link what you do with what you want to achieve (accreditation and education) with regard to a higher education ERP system.
  • Defines the goals you are trying to attain based upon your institution’s mission and vision. Choosing the right vendor that shares your values and institution’s virtues so you have a partner for the next 15 – 20 years in your quest for success.
  • An outcomes framework is a resource to help you link what you and your institution does (activities/business process) with what you want to achieve (objectives/outcomes). It will provide you with a way to outline and measure the program/project results.

Advantages of an Outcomes Framework Approach

Top 12 Advantages  

A clear understanding of desired outcomes A more cost effective selection/implementation
Aligns outcomes to strategic objectives Focuses on core business process alignment
Elevates conversation above just feature/function Better alignment between institution/vendor
A better match to overall requirements of institution Increases the probability of making the right platform selection
Better buy in from all stakeholders The vendor becomes a clear stakeholder in future success
A method to measure ongoing success of the implementation A common set of language for all to use
See Full Detail

Q: Now that we have discussed WHAT an Outcomes Framework is, what do you feel are the advantages of an Outcomes Framework approach in terms of supporting system selection and implementation? NOTE: Please be specific in your context of the advantages…for example the advantage could be for the education institution or could be for the enterprise vendor…

  • This process should result in a better problem to solution match which would result in happier customers and vendors
  • Provides better alignment within the institution on why we are selecting an ERP
  • Institution would have a better idea of where they are going if they knew the end point
  • Alignment of program objectives
  • Cost effectiveness.
  • Alignment between the institution and the vendor. This framework allows a common set of expectations and language across the board
  • Enables better shaping of effort by third parties to help implement the solution
  • Can be fact based
  • Better information to drive sales process to focus on true needs of the institution and away from the features/functions.
  • I think it helps remove people only looking at solutions to see “what’s in it for me.” By starting at the beginning with an understanding of “what’s in it for us” each person can (hopefully) focus on how what “they” do furthers what “we” need.
  • Provides opportunity measure success
  • Can serve to advance the actual goals of the institution without regard to personal preference for specific business process steps.
  • The vendor then becomes a stakeholder in the success of your institution
  • IT can partner with the business in a meaningful way to help them reach their goals.
  • Begin (and proceed) with the end in mind
  • Offers more collaborative effort among institution stakeholders and vendors.
  • Gives the institution and vendor a visible goal or endpoint to construct a solution to match
  • Better alignment between institutional leadership and end users.
  • Alignment between vendor and institution on desired results
  • More efficient end-to-end process, reducing the chase for detailed requirements that drive up the cost of pursuing rfp’s, and actually more effective in ensuring customers achieve the objective for their investment.
  • Realistic expectation setting
  • Alignment of outcomes to strategic objectives
  • Elevates the conversation above feature functionality.
  • Consistency in approach
  • Helps schools develop a vision and articulate better where and how they need to make advances to meet their vision and mission.
  • Can identify gaps – in solutions, in the process and in definition of capabilities needed to improve business operations
  • You get a higher percentage of buy in from all stakeholders
  • When we elevate the thinking to focus on outcomes, then internal alignment is dramatically improved, and the dialogue with prospective vendors and integrators is much more productive and on point.
  • The company/business has, is starting with, a focus on where we are going, obtaining the business value which is the ultimate goal.
  • Establishes standardized process for evaluation
  • Can focus the selection and implementation on the top key outcomes/goals
  • Greater clarity and means to measure value of solution/services from the vendor. Helps to establish a ROI/VOI assessment.
  • Increased accountability by institution and vendor
  • Focus on what the software does rather than how it does it
  • Could change the conversation between vendor and institution – many times I’ve seen vendor offer solutions that institution wouldn’t use or need – knowing what the outcome would be could save time and effort in demo’ing system, responding to RFP, etc
  • Reduce the cost of selection while increasing probability of making the selection with the greatest probability of success
  • Consistency and standardization for easier evaluation
  • Well-defined outcomes will guide planning, selection, implementation and optimization.
  • Easier to communicate with vendor the overall need rather than a shopping list of disjointed features
  • Can influence leadership on approach to the project, awareness and communication
  • The most obvious advantage is that it takes the focus away from functional bells and whistles into business process alignment.
  • Allows for measures to be established for the outcomes
  • Identifies inefficiencies and how to address them proactively.
  • Strategic alignment to org’s missions and vision.
  • Inputs for re-prioritization of needs
  • Decreased amount of requirements replaced with value
  • For vendors, product planning and development becomes highly attuned to real customer need
  • Gets rid of the feature/function fog

Expected Outcomes for Higher Education Enterprise Systems

(This was a sample exercise. Participants in the upcoming Outcomes Summits will be given expanded instruction and facilitated activities to collaboratively develop a list of relevant expected business outcomes for enterprise systems. These expected outcomes will be further developed into Model Business Outcome Documents that will form the backbone of the Outcomes Framework.)

Summary of Collected Outcomes

Reduction in time to hire Faster business processes
Student retention at institution Reduction in student enrollment time
Cost effectiveness of student recruiting Satisfaction with services delivered
Process time to close financials Reduction in staff to achieve service levels
Purchase order system efficiency Graduation to employment percentage
Measuring student success Better performance management metrics
Optimization of student courses Accuracy/timeliness of information reports
Optimizing financial aid funding  
See Full Detail

Q: The Outcomes Framework will initially consist of a library of model business outcomes documents and resources that align with the major functional areas of higher education enterprise systems — for example, HR, Student and Finance — that support those outcomes. Thinking about these systems and the scope they each cover, what are some examples of MEASURABLE OUTCOMES (missional, strategic, operational, financial, et cetera) that you would expect enterprise systems to support?

  • Reduction in time to hire
  • It is hard to think about how to “measure” these outcomes.
  • Time to close financials and deliver analytical reports
  • Examples: increase in retention based on a particular process or activity
  • Faster time to extend offer to potential students
  • Student recruiting effectiveness/cost ratio.
  • Assuming we can keep appropriate controls in place, we can reduce transaction and approval times by XX
  • Student retention
  • Student retention
  • Reduction in time to complete purchases
  • Student Success – completion rates, goal attainment
  • Acceptance to Enrollment percentage
  • One could be the reduction in the number of idiosyncratic business process in favor of best practices
  • Overall reduction in time it takes to do tasks like register a student or process an fin aid award
  • Decreased time to graduation
  • Decreased cost to complete tasks
  • Decrease in courses removed due to low enrollment
  • Student debt reduction
  • Optimize financial aid funds to affect desired outcome for recruiting and retention.
  • Financial Aid – Time to package initial award offers
  • Admission yield
  • Decreased need for entry level staffing
  • Number of steps to perform a task as measured by the customer (as it may indeed require more steps for the back office)
  • Better data allows for more efficient curriculum planning based on declared majors/minors.
  • Reduction in enrollment process time
  • Speed to lead, Lead to Enroll, Apply to Enroll, Persistence and Retention measures
  • Jobs/Career paths for Students
  • Increased students enrollment and retention.
  • Operational efficiency metrics in general
  • Increase in sponsored programs revenues
  • Decreased degree completion time
  • Constituent satisfaction with services delivered.
  • Number of students taking their first choice class at their first choice timeslot
  • Reducing staff involvement in transaction processing/correction and more staff involvement in counseling (funding, fit of program, etc.)
  • Quicker responses to students needs
  • Reduction in new hire onboarding
  • Reduction in cost for adding on other systems to meet future needs (that is, is the platform robust enough to be adapted to other needs)
  • Reduction in time to prepare payroll
  • Student success – getting the job of their choice
  • Recruiting cost yield
  • Learner satisfaction
  • System time to complete transactions
  • Decrease in decision-making time due to accurate and timely reporting
  • Increased quality hire rate
  • Reduction in staff to achieve same level of service
  • Reduce staff time at the keyboard and measure productivity in different ways. E.G – reduce manual processing time for fin aid – devote staff to financial literacy and counseling.
  • Package TIV Financial Aid across two years, 80 of process automated-requiring minimal staff intervention.
  • Learner NPS
  • Does the solution reduce the need for bolt-on products
  • Performance metrics against job duties and functionality
  • Fewer custom reports
  • Time to graduate
  • Graduation to employment percentage
  • Constituent satisfaction rating
  • I don’t have an idea to convey at this time in a specific functional area.
  • More accurate and complete reports
  • Maximum use of technology to mine student success data and act on those findings to intervene.
  • Alignment between specific metrics and institutional outcomes objectives
  • Attracting the right students, conversion from prospective applicants to matriculated students to
  • Fewer employees on transaction more on student or admin support
  • Term to term retention
  • Lower cost of implementation
  • Departmental consolidation

Feedback on the Outcomes Framework Approach

What Do You LIKE MOST:

Based on your understanding of the Advantiv Outcomes Framework approach, what do you LIKE MOST about the approach? In what ways will this help us improve enterprise platform selection and implementation in higher education institutions?

See the Responses
  • It aligns with my thinking about how we should start with the goal in mind and then back into a solution
  • The collaborative nature of having structured conversations with peers and vendors. Can help reduce chance of having unrealistic expectations and, conversely, help generate enthusiasm when needs align with others (sort of like experiencing “best practices” in real time).
  • This gives institutions a method and toolbox to discuss how they will assess and judge long term value coming out of their decision to make a change in underlying ERP software.
  • I think it can get client leadership to better understand why they are doing a package replacement – too many clients just say “I guess we need a new system”.
  • Clarity and alignment of overall objectives.
  • It will provide for consistency and it’s relevant to today’s business climate in education.
  • The focus on the outcomes or end game rather than detailed features and functions. Utilizing this kind of approach would make tie it to institutional goals/objectives and focus the institution on moving forward toward the common end point
  • I do like that it prompts a higher level of discussion.
  • Variety of ideas from different backgrounds.
  • It will focus institutions on what the goals are for an ERP implementation.
  • Will tie the project objective and budget to quantifiable outcome, controlling costs and cross-vendor comparison
  • The Framework provides an alternative way to look at “requirements” and get out of the weeds in selecting software. It can continually remind people to focus on what the intent of a new implementation is rather than how it will work “for me”.
  • It moves schools beyond the feature/function role, and to looking at how and why they do business the way they do. What are their objectives with their business processes. Again, what is the purpose for using these technology tools.
  • It will provide both vendors and higher education institutions a better understanding of desired outcomes for ERP which creates a stronger partnership. Once everyone understands the desired outcomes implementations can more closely align.
  • Speaks directly to the true system requirements and needs. This could reduce the cycle time for vendors significantly – the old rfx to proposal model is very costly for vendors. The ‘smart’ facilitation of the process is excellent – keeps it focused and on task. Too many discovery sessions turn in to airing the dirty laundry and complaints from school staff.
  • Collaboration with vendors so they can understand the business drivers that are most important to today’s higher education leaders.
  • We (in IT) will be focusing with the business on what we are collectively trying to achieve. It not only helps with better platform decision making, it also helps illustrate IT’s value to the business.
  • The approach will help guide institutions to make a more operational and informed decision. During this process, their end goals will be defined for the vendor during implementation. It will hopefully help institutions measure success and improve business processes. Win- win!
  • I like that it is a resource that will help institutions focus on the results not just want they want today. I think it will help them better understand the selection process and what is needed when it comes to implementation. It will require them to be more realistic
  • Tested, defensible, foundational and trusted framework – from an independent agent – one that leaders can rely. Standardized tool, transparency, depth and move to capabilities verses requirements.
  • Using such a broad array of folks with different skill set and knowledge I believe a good/great outcome will result and the current method is easy/quick and not to laborious for folks to get involved. The involvement from a big enough sample of people with various backgrounds and knowledge is crucial.
  • It will help improve communication, cooperation and collaboration among the HE schools so we all benefit from the Outcomes framework approach.


Based on your understanding of the Advantiv Outcomes Framework approach, what do you LIKE LEAST about the approach? What CONCERNS do you have about how this will help us improve enterprise platform selection and implementation in higher education institutions?

See the Responses
  • It will likely be challenging to get functional teams to adopt the approach
  • That the vendors will recommend participants. There is real value in institutions participating *before* they have selected a vendor (and it can help them avoid selecting the wrong vendor for them).
  • We’re moving pretty fast from brainstorming about what constitutes a framework right to deep dive subject matter discussion without allowing the “yeast to rise” on the brainstorming. What did we miss? Was one session enough to frame the approach? Seems too fast.
  • I’m concerned that outcomes tend to be high level and there is still a need for some level of detailed requirements – not 5,000 requirements, but not zero either.
  • Nothing that I like least. Concerns related to vendors changing messaging away from features/benefits to outcomes with limited ability for the institution to still differentiate who can really deliver the desired outcomes.
  • It may be difficult to stay current if staff is limited. Still not sure on how much time would be necessary to scale on proposals.
  • I think it will be VERY difficult to get people to get to this point – younger administrators will be easier – they are more used to thinking about things in this way but for older staff – I think this will be very difficult – they want to see how this new system does their tasks in essentially the same way they are used to doing them – change it really hard
  • How to operationalize outcomes? There is still a disconnect between the outcomes discussion and the specific business processes, and yes even the necessary functionality needed to drive the outcomes. I think this solution is on the right path, but not fully completed yet.
  • Duplication of effort, should be well researched out and align up and partner up with others who engaged in similar initiatives out there.
  • It can’t evolve into a “drop down” selection process where an institution subscribes to the platform then can simply check boxes to say they want that outcome.
  • If institutions or key stakeholders are not happy with some aspect of the result, it may result in subjective argument that could lead to public recriminations or legal action. Has to be accompanied by measureable and enforceable communication protocols.
  • The question to answer is “How will I know it will work for us?” This is based on the idea that most institutions and even departments within institutions believe that “we are different”. “We could never approach our problem like institution A does.”
  • The feature/function role will always be there. Can’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. So need to find a balance in the approach.
  • Outcomes approach will require both top-down and bottom-up to be most effective. If the organization limits participation to just top then the functional/departmental outcomes will be harder to represent and align. Outcomes approach requires a good bit of change management/leadership for selection and implementation.
  • Need to know how this would fit in the framework of the regulated procurement process – that needs to be clear and all players at the institution need to buy in. Also, who pays for this tool and the facilitation?
  • Establishing a library of outcomes that are relevant and for each institution based on their goals/strategy as their business evolves. Being able to delineate on outcomes that have a shared responsibility between institution and vendor.
  • There’s nothing I don’t like about the framework. Rather, I think there is a need to educate staff in IT to think more about business outcomes and how IT can facilitate outcome-based success. There is a need to educate staff and administrators on the business side too, but IT needs staff who can think about outcomes and business-based goals, which can be a difficult shift.
  • The institutions involved will need to have complete buy into the idea of the framework in order to invest the time.
  • I think institutions may find this approach too restrictive. Everyone believes they are a special snowflake and often think a process won’t work for them.
  • Hesitance of organizations to be offer up true results of their realized outcomes and the validation process.
  • N/a
  • This will take time and effort on the part of participants and we hope management understands and supports this endeavor.

Feedback on the Virtual Summit Approach

What Do You LIKE MOST:

Based on your understanding of the role of the VIRTUAL SUMMIT in the creation the Outcomes Framework, what do you LIKE MOST about the virtual summit approach? In what ways will this help us in engaging specific functions within higher education and developing topics and outcomes that may be candidates for the Outcomes Framework?

See the Responses
  • Can help level-set what are reasonable expectations and goals. I understand that schools are different, but the larger the deviation the more costly to meet those “unique” needs.
  • I think this approach is ideal for capturing immediate reactions to questions and issues. Participants have an opportunity to see in real time where their responses sit in relationship to others.
  • There’s nothing better than getting real client input on outcomes. The vendor community can give their views, but the clients have real answers.
  • I really like the tool and brainstorming — very cool
  • Ability to quickly identify/assess common needs across a broad group of participants.
  • This was a very efficient way to gather feedback – love it!
  • It will be a great way to easily capture the data, but you may want to give the questions ahead of time so that the participant has been able to thoroughly consider the question.
  • I enjoyed the clarity of the virtual summit. I thought it was well organized and easy to understand. I thought the pace was just right and allowed time of thought when answering questions.
  • The reduced cost of collecting valuable information is something I like. It would work very well for most situations.
  • Love the Virtual Summit concept. It allows people from all locations to participate, gets a broad cross-section of perspectives and because it is “anonymous” or can be, it opens the door to very candid communication
  • Quickly aggregates different sources of data/input towards something that can be refined into a process structure.
  • It’s fantastic from a vantage point of it forces individual creativity without deferring to others. Every voice is heard.
  • Allows for an abundance of input, in a confidential manner, which you would hope would give you a realistic viewpoint of where we are, and where we need to move.
  • I do like the fast pace. It also allows for every attendee to participate. In a traditional meeting or workshop, quiet people can be overlooked or do not participate.
  • Very collaborative and powerful tool for continuous engagement.
  • Excellent platform for group engagement with the caveat below.
  • Creates a repository for each institution to be able to identify outcomes upon which to measure vendor and their services/solutions.
  • I do believe this is an engaging approach and supports equal and guided participation from multiple perspectives and stakeholders. Providing individuals associated with specific modules/areas a place to provide their expected outcomes will be helpful.
  • Virtual summit is a very efficient and effective approach to gather and aggregate inputs into Advantiv’s decision process. The attendees each bring their own perspectives and represent all sides of the buyer, vendor and user. Tool is efficient. The response are meant to be short and crisp. The appropriate time spent on each. Facilitation of prepared questions well done!
  • The process is simple enough, clear enough to be easily used and with all the feedback from the participants I’m learning more and getting out of my particular institutions box of thinking.


Based on your understanding of the role of the VIRTUAL SUMMIT in the creation the Outcomes Framework, what do you LIKE LEAST about the virtual summit element? What CONCERNS do you have about how the Summits might help us in engaging specific functions within higher education and developing topics and outcomes that may be candidates for the Outcomes Framework?

See the Responses
  • I like it all. I just wonder if functional users from departments will be willing to make changes to their needs/wants based on the summit.
  • I’m concerned about the lack of time to reflect on initial responses, as not everyone is effective with “gut check” feedback in real time.
  • Will there be enough input to be useful? Have to see how it goes.
  • I would like to have some actual conversation or exchange to clarify or explore areas – maybe after the tabulation of a particular question – there is a 5 minute conversation about some part of it or the opportunity to expand or add to a thought that was mentioned in someone else’s post
  • Concerned about the level of depth that will be needed to get to the end result and not being able to do without conducting many of these summits…does the volume/frequency become a barrier to success?
  • Higher ed tends to be very process oriented, so for business units that need to talk through things, an approach like the virtual summit will probably need to be coupled with other forums for gathering information and feedback.
  • A couple of times, I believe my answers were replaced by others, so possibly shared login. Be careful to explain importance of individual login credentials.
  • I really didn’t have anything I disliked. The one concern I have is not getting full engagement/participation and making decisions based on half-engagement.
  • As a vendor, I sometimes want to be in person with business leaders and IT to help build a trusted relationship. Is there a model where this could be done in physical lab environment where the vendor can be present?
  • May limit deeper thinking due to its speedy nature. But with effective follow-up and subsequent sessions, this can be overcome.
  • A bit off-the-cuff for something that, if deployed, will have significant operational and financial implications. Presumably this is a POC of sorts. Would want to know sample size and composition.
  • Nothing – while it lacks collaboration that can come post-Virtual Summit as it gets more ideas on the table in a fast, non-obtrusive manner.
  • Provides great information, that as is so often the case, goes unused. Fostering effective leadership will need to be a key if this is to be successful.
  • Sometimes this moves too fast, without time to digest responses.
  • May not reach out to a large number of stakeholders needed.
  • The list if items in the prioritization questions were clearly pre-populated and did not reflect the items that were submitted in the previous question. That came across as “leading the witness”. You need to take the time to truly summarize what was received in brainstorming question. (FACILITATOR NOTE: Lists were not pre-populated, they were summarized based on responses to the questions…it’s a fast process and some may think it was pre-built. It’s good feedback to have some open discussion before closing out the lists.)
  • Ensuring that the library is complete and that the effort to fulfill the outcomes is quantifiable.
  • Challenging people to think in a new construct is challenging at best. Provide an overview of outcome framework as a pre-assignment AND at the beginning of the virtual session and assume that not all have had time/desire to complete the pre-reading. I am concerned that not all will understand/participate using the outcomes framework.
  • Late invitee.. Would like to have done more background reading.
  • The proof is in the details. More time will be necessary for assessment of the process with regard to, will we be able to come up with a great realistic Outcomes Framework and not the superficial.

Overall Session Feedback


Reflecting on our session today, what’s the ONE MESSAGE OR RECOMMENDATION that you would provide to Advantiv as they move the Outcomes Framework initiative forward? Please be as candid and specific as you can.

See the Responses
  • Distinguish between selection and implementation.
  • Get going
  • Find and use a separate group to validate/refute the outcomes of today’s feedback.
  • Be clear to institutions what the value of the engagement will be and why institutions should want to participate (at a cost, or even if free).
  • Need very broad participation
  • Get a really clear definition of what the Outcomes Framework is and why it is a good way to go so that everyone can understand it
  • Need to work effectively with institutional leadership on how to use the methodology effectively.
  • What is the role of vendors in this process?
  • Develop a methodology for using the Framework. How do people start or proceed? What should they expect when they use the Framework?
  • Clear expectations/ agenda for each Summit before it occurs.
  • Must demonstrate value to vendors. If there is cost, there has to be a clear ROI
  • Great idea, be sure to involve executive leaders as well as departmental leasers/users.
  • Provide contemplation time. The session seemed rushed–but effective.
  • The outcomes framework will only work if it will be supported by the institutional constituents on the front end and the vendors making contractual commitments on the back end…without both it will just result in a different approach for vendor selection and not necessarily the “outcomes” being targeted.
  • Involve many people of wide skill sets as much possible, geographical locations, etc.
  • Continue with your work in the background before session begin, that helps the process to flow smoothly.
  • Get a non-IT leader to talk about the value they derived from using the Framework in their decisions process.
  • Information on how to implement this type of framework (from a variety of perspectives from within institutions) would be helpful.


What did you enjoy most about the session today? What did you find to be most positive?

See the Responses
  • Keeping Dan busy.
  • I was skeptical of the tool but think it proved to be pretty effective.
  • The questions were quite engaging, and the tool was quite cool.
  • Enjoyed the platform and facilitation.
  • I liked the session – it was good experience
  • Efficient process to engender collaboration and ideas.
  • Great amount of great input.
  • I enjoy the immediate feedback and remote participation
  • Loved the interactive tool and the ability to participate without traveling.
  • Seeing others responses.
  • Crisp and articulate facilitation. Excellent format.
  • It was nice to think like an institution not like a vendor. I loved the format and facilitation. Well DONE!
  • A lot of information was collected from many participants and participant types with very low cost. I enjoyed reading the perspectives of others/
  • Diversity of input, but common themes emerged.
  • Excellent facilitation and commentary.
  • It was not too taxing it hit upon the overall areas necessary.
  • The opportunity to provide responses. All the participants are positive, thoughtful and look for tools and methodologies to deliver product or service. Immediate results.
  • It was a really fun and easy format – plus the facilitation was terrific!

Additional Comments:

OPTIONAL: Do you have any additional comments or observations about today’s session or any aspect of the Advantiv Outcomes Framework initiative?

See the Responses
  • Good work – need to keep going.
  • I hope we will receive other attendees responses that were written during the session.
  • Very good stuff – well worth my time.
  • I would love to hear more and provide any support possible. Many of the questions and feedback align with my dissertation so your information is great.
  • Great job.
  • N/A
  • Great work by the team!
  • Thanks for the invitation – it was well worth my time.
  • Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself – L. Tolstoy

Rating the Advanced Strategy Lab system:

What was the value of the Advanced Strategy Lab system in supporting today’s session? (1-10 scale, 1 being of no value, 10 being of significant value)

Rating Results:

High Low StdDev Average
10 7 0.9 9.1


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Top 2
0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 8 7 75%

(Aren’t you curious about how we did all this in 90 minutes?)

Outcomes Framework Kick-Off Event: Answers to Collected Questions

The Concept

What made you decide to make a change to an outcomes framework? What prompted you to think or come up with the idea of outcome framework?

Outcomes provide a bottom-line, results-focused, board- and CEO-level answer to the question, “Why?“.

And by answering that question with business results in mind, the thinking and dialogue within an organization and with potential solution providers elevates to shared problem solving and the pursuit of shared opportunities. “Get to” replaces “Have to” as a primary motivator, and all eyes get fixed on a true and jointly developed definition of success.

We believe that answering the question “Why?” and having intelligent dialogue about and around that answer is a mindset and a skill that we all, as leaders and stewards of one of our world’s greatest resources, can and should develop and routinely practice. The Outcomes Framework is intended to help us all do exactly that.

For nearly 40 years, enterprise software system acquisitions in higher ed, public sector and all other major markets were heavily focused on detailed requirements, and the more the better, it seemed. And that meant massive RFPs and extensive product demonstrations that cost everyone involved tremendous amounts of time, effort, and money, and for very little reciprocal value.

In 1996, we had an idea that if requirements could be largely standardized and web-enabled for broad-based but efficient stakeholder review and modification, and if the vendor RFP response process could be partially automated, then we could help institutions and vendors to reduce the time, cost and effort and free up resources for more productive use. That idea worked, and since then we have supported hundreds of ERP, SIS, LMS, CRM and other system selection projects in higher ed, public sector, and healthcare.

In the last five years, with the rise of cloud-based enterprise software systems, detailed requirements are correctly losing their central role in system planning and selection. Today, business capabilities, technology architectures, and new economic models have begun to play the leading roles in determining which solution will serve the institution now and well into the future – and this is very good. But, we believe, it is not yet enough.

Despite these advances, we continue to see:

  • Deep ERP/SIS investment fatigue in the face of shrinking budgets (the third or fourth bite at the apple for many institutions… and their boards and presidents who have to come up with the money)
  • Lack of alignment within institutions and organizations that becomes painfully clear when the time comes to think about new systems
  • Lack of effective communication between vendors and their prospects about what the prospect is really trying to achieve – and what the vendor is truly capable of providing
  • Unsustainable cost and risk of catastrophic failure as primary “have to” motivators for replacing enterprise software systems
  • and the list goes on.

Over the past year, we’ve given some serious thought to (and a fair amount of time researching) the future of software systems decisions – and the business results that those decisions should yield. We began to realize that what has been missing is a clear connection between the investment in enterprise software systems and well-defined business outcomes that measurably and with accountability advance the institution’s mission, strategic objectives, and financial and operational goals.

To be clear, all investments in enterprise software systems have led to business outcomes, always have and always will. Some intentional, some not; some good, some not so good. And, so we have come to believe that now is the time to make outcomes the focal point of every enterprise software project, and that a new and powerful resource, the Outcomes Framework, is needed in order to make that happen.


  • We believe that the higher ed community has the necessary experience and foresight and is ready to work together to create a powerful resource to instill, equip, and enable outcomes thinking that will drive the planning, selection, implementation, and optimization of enterprise software systems.
  • We believe that this collaborative effort needs to be catalyzed and facilitated by a neutral party and should produce what eventually will become a not-for-profit resource for the entire community.
  • We believe that this effort and its results should be inclusive, not exclusive, and should not be proprietary to any commercial firm, including Advantiv.
  • We believe that the early adopter phase of the cloud-based solution era is now giving way to mass market adoption and that there will be more institutions seeking new solutions at unprecedented volumes, and that the current methods for selecting systems will not be able to accommodate the demand nor will they produce the business results that are needed.
  • We believe that outcomes thinking will apply to more than just enterprise software systems, but we will start there, and will extend well beyond higher education, but we will start here.

We still will serve our clients, vendors, and partners with DecisionDirector, but we will lead this Outcomes Framework effort as if the future depended on it.

Explain ownership of this initiative.

Advantiv will initially own the Outcomes Framework in order to get it started, but we will treat it as a community-funded, community-created, and community-focused Creative Commons resource that will ultimately be turned into a not-for-profit entity for ongoing curation and promotion.

The Summits

How will the Outcomes Summit process work and how will it support the creation of the Outcomes Framework? Will you use this session for specific institutions or for the industry as a whole?

Outcomes Summits are online, hands-on, facilitated events that are designed to extract the best and most concentrated thinking about enterprise software outcomes ever conducted. Each summit will include 10-25 or more experienced higher education professionals and last 90-120 minutes. The summits will take place in two major rounds.

The first round will consist of three general summits, one each for Student, Finance, and HR/HCM. The purpose of these general summits is to establish a baseline set of outcomes that are or should be associated with each type of system, and to identify sources of information and expertise that will be accessed by Advantiv following each summit as part of the model business outcome development process.

A key objective of the first round is to provide an initial set of model baseline outcomes documents that can be used to successfully guide outcomes-based system planning and selection efforts for most institutions. Improvements, extensions, and refinements of these documents will be an ongoing effort.

The second round will consist of numerous focused summits that will further define outcomes based on institution type. Student systems outcomes in community colleges is an example of a focused summit. These summits will start with the baseline outcomes and will add, remove, or modify as deemed appropriate. Advantiv will conduct the same research and development process as with the general summits.

The diagram below describes the anticipated content of a model business outcomes document:

The diagram below illustrates the relationship between model business outcomes and their corresponding software system:

The diagram below explains and illustrates how the Summits will lead to the creation of the Outcomes Framework:

What is your estimated time expectation per (institution) attendee that will be needed throughout the process? Will you have a clear timeline and expectations for each summit?

Prior to a Summit

We expect that each participant will require 1-2 hours in advance of a Summit to review the materials that we will provide and think about the kinds of outcomes they have experienced or would think should be expected.

During the Summit

Each Summit will last 90-120 minutes. The time required for any given Summit will be communicated in advance of the Summit.

After the Summit

We expect no more than 1-2 hours to review the results and provide any additional feedback or questions.

Beyond that, some of the participants may agree to 30-60 minute follow-up interviews during the research and development phase as we craft the Model Business Outcome Documents. We will try to keep these interviews as efficient and convenient as possible, being very mindful of the value of their time.

Finally, we will make the draft versions of the Model Business Outcome Documents available for efficient participant review and comment.

What are the expected questions you will ask?

We have not finalized the questions or the flow of the Summit sessions, but in general and with having provided orientation materials in advance of the session, we expect to ask the participants to:

  • List as many measurable business outcomes as you can that, based on your experience or reasonable expectation, could or should be associated with a successfully implemented and optimally deployed new [Student, Finance, HR/HCM] system.
  • Rank or rate resulting list of outcomes in terms of importance.
  • Classify the list of outcomes according to their area of greatest impact, with choices being Mission, Strategic Objectives, Finance and Operations.
    • We may have a preceding exercise that will ask each participant to provide their interpretation and value/relevance of those categories.
  • Indicate which outcomes in the list, if any, about which they personally would be willing to be provide more information during the research and development phase.
    • Because of the anonymous nature of the Summit approach, we will need to coordinate with the third-party facilitation team to provide personal attribution to only those items
  • Suggest sources of information or insight that would enhance and accelerate the research and development of the Model Business Outcome Documents
  • Share how a previous project may have been improved if they had established business outcomes at the beginning of the project
  • Share Like Most/Like Least and Words of Advice feedback

We will NOT ask the participants to:

  • Evaluate or comment on their current or previous vendors
  • Evaluate or comment on their current or previous institutions
Will you use this session for specific institutions or for the industry as a whole?

All Summit sessions, including the Kick-Off session, will be used for the community as a whole. These sessions are intended to collect, organize, and evaluate the wisdom, experience, and insights from a variety of thought leaders in order to identify model business outcomes that can be created and made available back to the community through the Outcomes Framework.

Institutions may, if they wish, utilize this facilitated ideation technique for their own purposes and within their own projects.

Will there be an opportunity for true conversations between participants?

Interesting question that we can answer only partially at the moment.

The purpose of the Summits is to determine what outcomes are most relevant and should be further researched in order to create the Model Business Outcomes Documents for inclusion in the Outcomes Framework. Since this will be an anonymous exercise, we don’t see inline or sidebar conversations as necessary or useful within the 90-120 minutes anticipated for each Summit.

If the question has in mind the use of the online summit technology in the context of a specific project within an institution to, say, brainstorm and discuss which outcomes are most relevant to their initiative and to further refine and agree to those outcomes, then inline or sidebar true conversations would be very helpful. 

This answer will be updated when we determine if and how a conversational capability might be deployed.

The Roll-Out

When do you think you will roll out the framework? What is the implementation timeline?

The first usable version of Outcomes Framework will be 2Q2019. It will be a graduated roll-out, both in terms of breadth of coverage and depth of content. But it will be enough to allow institutions to embrace an outcomes-driven approach from the start, and it will grow in depth and breadth every month thereafter.

(Updated 2018-10-11 to reflect revised timeline)

How will you roll-out the framework -- all business processes? Student first? HR? Will it be modularized?

We will conduct three general Summits this Winter: Student, Finance, and HR/HCM, and expect to have Model Business Outcome Documents developed for the major areas within each in 2Q2019. We anticipate that these will be high-level outcomes, at first, but we also anticipate that we will see both the demand for and a natural progression of the outcomes to become more granularly associated with major modules or functions such as Admissions or Financial Aid (Student), Budgeting (Finance), and Recruitment (HR/HCM), and so on.

We will then conduct more targeted Summits, starting with institution type (small private, community college, small public, large private, large public, et cetera). As we roll-out the Framework and gain feedback from its early deployments, we expect to conduct sessions with specific processes in mind, such as Financial Aid and Procurement, for example.

We will develop a taxonomy for the Outcomes Framework, and a flexible system of tagging that will enable relevant model outcomes to be identified and retrieved by using selection criteria such as process, institutional type or size, type of outcome (missional, strategic, financial, operational), and so on.

(Updated 2018-10-11 to reflect revised timeline)

If you had to pilot the framework, what characteristics would you look for in the institution to give it a fair trial?

Ideally, the first adopters would be those whose project sponsors, leaders, and stakeholders are generally on-board with the idea of using stated measurable business outcomes as a way to focus and drive their approach and decision-making. Given the anticipated high volume of selection projects that will be gearing up for and throughout 2019, we believe that we will quickly accumulate a healthy cross-section of institution types, sizes, and locales. Since most are likely to engage a system selection consultant, we also would need the consulting firm to be on-board.

Will you test this outcomes framework concept with industry analysts?

We will review the Outcomes Framework with analysts and also with vendors, consultants, associations, and consortia. We have not developed plans for testing of the Framework with analysts, but will evaluate that as we move further along.

Thought leadership is required at two levels here - formulation and adoption. How would you seed this approach in procurement offices in Higher Ed? What adoption curve do you foresee?

We have always viewed the procurement function as standing at the intersection of strategy and spend. See www.advantiv.com/thoughtleaders/.

(Editorial note: We also know that the recognition and appreciation of procurement as such has gained traction only within the last 5-10 years. In all of our projects, we ask that the procurement team be involved from the beginning. More often than not, we get asked “Why would we want to do that? We usually wait until we are closer to writing the RFP.” Our response to that question is that “procurement can be your best friend and an invaluable aid in this process if you involve them from the beginning.”)

So, as with anything new, early adopters within the procurement function who can envision, experience, and then help to “evangelize” this shift to outcomes will be key to moving this along the adoption curve.

Therefore, one of our core strategies is to identify and involve thought leaders in the procurement world so that we can a) ensure that the outcomes approach will satisfy procurement guidelines and b) enlist the support of the procurement function to encourage an outcomes focus in these major procurements.

Call to Action: If you have a procurement leader in mind, please have them contact us: outcomes@advantiv.com.

The Approach

How is this approach more cost effective than hiring a consultant to work with the institution?

The Outcomes Framework is not intended to be a substitute for consultants. It is intended to be a resource for institutions, and also for consultants, to introduce, equip and enable outcomes-based thinking, planning, and selection decisions.

We believe that time spent on outcomes will be far more valuable and far less costly in terms of dollars and duration than spending great amounts time on detailed requirements. We also believe that developing a clear definition of expected business outcomes will lead to an efficient and sensible definition of required business capabilities.

Vendors will still be asked about x,y,z capabilities... How will those types of questions be supported?

In addition to explicitly stated outcomes that the vendors must address, outcomes-driven RFPs will contain all usual and customary questions and a well-developed and highly streamlined set of desired capabilities and requirements.

In the diagram below, the list on the left indicates the primary system selection planning components. The list on the right indicates the resulting major components of the RFP.

The diagram below provides insight into how a set of stated outcomes in the RFP will guide vendor responses:

How will you get vendors to commit to the outcomes contractually?

We are not contemplating suggesting alterations to vendor contracts, at least not in the near term. We do think, however, that one of the criteria for developing Model Business Outcomes is to create them to be good enough to eventually become contractually negotiable, with obligations and corresponding rewards and consequences for both parties.

Vendor Access

What access will vendors have to the desired outcomes from the library and sessions?

Sponsoring vendors will have full access to the Outcomes Framework’s Model Business Outcomes Documents and other related resources in order to prepare corresponding proposal assets.

Sponsoring vendors will also “sponsor” one or more representatives of their client institutions as participants in the Outcomes Summits, but the vendors themselves will not participate in the actual Summit sessions. Vendors will not have access to the transcripts, participants, or other details of those sessions.

Will vendors be able to add to the outcomes library and at what cost?

We are contemplating two methods by which vendors can add to the Outcomes Framework, and both methods will require the vendors to be either a sponsor/subscriber (explained elsewhere).

First, we envision inviting vendors to suggest outcomes for development and inclusion in the community’s Outcome Framework. We will work out a governance, review, and approval process to manage these suggestions.

Second, we are considering eventually allowing sponsoring/subscribing vendors to create a private set of outcomes that they can choose to make available to their clients and willing prospects. This is a low priority and will likely create some debate when the time comes to give it focused attention.

Pricing and Economics

How do you plan to charge for this service? Is it one time, or a subscription? If there is a cost, will vendors also pay? What is the model you will use to price this for both institution and the vendor?

The Outcomes Framework will be provided as a subscription-based service.

Pricing has not yet been set for institutional subscriptions, but our plan is to make the price affordable and the corresponding revenues sufficient to continue to grow and curate the Framework.

Vendors will also be able to subscribe to the Framework. Currently, supportive vendors are helping to create and launch the Framework with sponsorship fees and active participation through selected clients.

Interested institutions can also support the cost of creating the Framework through a small sponsorship fee.

What would the cost be for institutions to participate [in a Summit session]?

Other than their own time, there will be no cost to institutions to participate in a Summit session. In fact, one of the benefits of participation in a Summit will be a complimentary subscription to the Outcomes Framework.

There are a limited number of seats for any session, though, so institutional participation will occur through sponsored vendor clients, recommendations from other institutions or consultants, and invitations from Advantiv.

How will you monetize this new platform & approach?

The Outcomes Framework will generate subscription revenues sufficient to support its on-going growth and curation, and to justify transitioning it to a self-sustaining not-for-profit entity. We will work to maintain this isolation from the rest of our business, just as we have from the very beginning.

Advantiv, the for-profit corporation, will support the use of the Outcomes Framework through our DecisionDirector product for those who wish to use DecisionDirector, and through services and events that we will create to assist institutions, vendors, and consultants with the adoption of outcomes concepts and the Framework in their operations.


Will info provided by schools during the sessions be shared with vendors? How will you ensure vendors will not abuse the information they receive to spam or solicit customers (this happens all the time)?

No. Information collected during the sessions will only be used to drive the creation of the Outcomes Framework. The Outcomes Framework itself will be available to the vendors, but the detailed information and insights provided during the sessions will be anonymous and will not be attributable in any form to any person or institution.

Sponsoring vendors will have the opportunity to recommend client institutions to participate in the sessions, but any specific information provided by those institutions will not be provided back to the sponsoring vendor, unless, of course, the participants choose to do so on their own.

How will my data be disaggregated (as I understand you will use results of workshops to influence the outcomes library)? What privacy measure will you use to get customers to be honest?

First, it is essential to understand that all online responses captured in the Summits are confidential and, to Advantiv and the other participants, anonymous. This means that there is no traceability of responses to the person or to the person’s institution or organization.

We will ask questions that will allow us to know the type or size of the organization the participant represents. That will allow us to do cohort analysis as we sift through, group, and organize the responses. For small Summits, we at Advantiv may be simply unable to avoid deducing some of who said what, but since we will not be publishing any attributions anyway, it will not matter.

The primary purpose of the Summits, then, is to determine as group, what outcomes are most relevant and should be further researched in order to create the Model Business Outcomes Documents that will collectively constitute the Outcomes Framework.


Will this augment or replace this existing Advantiv product?

The Outcomes Framework is being developed as a totally separate resource that neither replaces nor augments our DecisionDirector product or our Knowledge Packs. Nor will the Outcomes Framework require, in any way, the use of DecisionDirector or other Advantiv services. This separation will enable us to treat the Outcomes Framework as a true community resource, and allow us to ultimately transition the Framework to a not-for-profit entity for ongoing creation and curation.

That said, we will ensure that the Outcomes Framework will be supported by DecisionDirector for those institutions and consultants, and even vendors, that wish to do so. And we will develop services, as will other consultants, to assist with the adoption and use of the Framework.

How can we be involved over the long haul?

There’s something for everybody to do as we get this rolling and keep it growing. An incomplete list of ideas includes:


  • Consider participating in some of the upcoming Summits
  • Review the draft Model Business Outcome Documents and provide unvarnished feedback
  • Promote the concept to your peers
  • Use the Framework if you have an upcoming project
  • Consider the possibility of becoming an Advisory Board member (or similar, as we work out how that will go)
  • Consider a small initial sponsorship to support the development effort, which includes the Summits, and involves a small staff, P/T grad students, some independent consultants, and to support the licensing or development and deployment of the technology that will support the Framework
  • Become a subscriber when institutional subscriptions become available
  • Continue to provide your candid feedback as the Framework and supporting processes are developed


  • Become a sponsor and actively help us to create and launch the Framework
  • Select dynamic individuals from your client base to participate in the Summits
  • Spend time with us in discussing the ramifications of outcomes-driven system selections to your sales operations and other areas of your company
  • Promote the concept to your field ops and your prospects
  • Consider ways that your existing clients can use the Outcomes Framework to drive even greater value from their investment in your solution
  • Continue to provide your candid feedback as the Framework and supporting processes are developed


  • Recommend institutions who might be excellent participants in the upcoming Summits
  • Review the draft Model Business Outcome Documents and provide unvarnished feedback
  • Promote the concept to your clients and peers
  • Incorporate the Framework in your system selection methodology
  • Develop new services to help institutions adopt and leverage the outcomes thinking in their projects
  • Become a subscriber when consultant subscriptions become available
  • Continue to provide your candid feedback as the Framework and supporting processes are developed

A project without measurable business outcomes

is like a compass without true north.

A Word About DecisionDirector and the Outcomes Framework


The Outcomes Framework concept emerged out of our deep experience in system selections and our vision for its future.

The idea of making it a community resource and not just another proprietary product offering reflects our “purpose-over-profit” commitment to support the mission of higher education.

Yes, DecisionDirector is our flagship product and, while its design will support the use of the Outcomes Framework, such use will be strictly optional. Therefore, access to the Outcomes Framework will be completely independent of DecisionDirector.

Our Position, Policies, and Practices

We are 100% vendor neutral.

We have no stake in, or benefit in anyway from, a selection outcome.

We never reveal vendor response data without permission from the vendor.

We do not claim ownership of any client, consultant, or vendor data entered into DecisionDirector.

We never sell or otherwise distribute any of the data entered into DecisionDirector.

We have many consulting partners who have integrated DecisionDirector into their planning and selection methodologies, and their baseline requirements and other information into the DecisionDirector database.

Clients are free to use our baseline library or that of their chosen consultant, or a combination of both.

Vendors may establish baseline requirements of their own in DecisionDirector, for clients and prospects that wish to start with those.

We do whatever we can to help clients, consultants, and vendors be successful in using and benefiting from DecisionDirector, but we never provide unfair advantage or share inside information about the projects we support. We hold all conversations in full confidence and do not discuss or share sensitive or competitive information. We are committed to creating and supporting the best practices that lead to the best possible outcomes, and therefore are always open to constructive criticisms and suggestions.