Flagship university transitions its core enterprise systems from custom to cloud

The enterprise systems of the University of Texas at Austin were originally developed prior to the turn of the millennium and became the standard for all of the academic institutions within it. Mainframe-based and highly customized, the tightly-coupled DEFINE system supported financial management and human capital management processing across the enterprise. As the expectations of DEFINE and the University’s student information system increased and as the population of developers knowledgeable about the underlying technologies aged, university leadership identified the need to increase system flexibility and responsiveness while containing system support costs. Cloud-based enterprise system options presented an alternative to more effectively address these needs.


In the midst of a multi-year Administrative Systems Master Plan (ASMP) Road Mapping project, the university faced a difficult decision. How should it invest resources to provide constituents with information and tools to most effectively manage student, human capital and financial services? Students expect web-based systems with intuitive interfaces available from their devices. Legislators and university leadership expect comprehensive and often unpredictable ad hoc reporting and compliance. The options available—to upgrade the existing system, collaborate with other universities on a new system, or eliminate most internal infrastructure by moving to a cloud-based system—each presented their own benefits and risks.

Imagining IT Differently
Imagining IT Differently

ISG helped the university explore the viable alternatives for replacing its administrative systems and document the advantages, disadvantages and risks associated with each alternative. For the final options, ISG developed a recommended timeline, deployment phasing plan and calculation of the estimated 10-year total cost of ownership, providing the university with information to choose the option that best fit its needs. ISG then helped the university develop procurement documents for software and implementation services and evaluate software providers.

Future Made Possible

  • Detailed analysis of on-premises, hosted and cloud technology as a platform for the future
  • ERP marketplace assessment to inform the choices available for new solutions
  • Requirements for each administrative system, built collaboratively with representatives from constituencies across the institution
  • Comprehensive RFP for relevant software, hosting platform and ERP integration services, built to allow the university to effectively compare and contrast alternatives
  • Detailed demonstration scripts to confirm software capability
  • Decision process understood and supported by the constituent community
  • Credible selection decision