In 2018, Joe Tolisano and Angelo Simoni of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) had a vision for improving administrative operations across the 12 community colleges, 4 universities and the state’s online college. Tolisano, CIO, had observed the opportunity to reduce administrative costs by working with a single vendor that could provide multiple administrative systems. Simoni, Executive Director for Student Relations & Compliance, was thinking ahead to the planned consolidation of the community colleges, slated for completion by 2024. He knew that standardizing processes, lexicon, policies, and metrics across the system was going to be necessary.
Tolisano managed the procurement process. "A significant source of effort and cost for us is the development and maintenance of system integrations. With 17 campuses using different supporting systems for multiple functions, it was very complex," Tolisano said. "If we can design and test each integration point once and copy it across multiple campuses, that was clearly going to be a huge cost savings. Symplicity was already a significant provider of solutions to several of our campuses, and we were pretty comfortable with their support." Western Connecticut State University and Eastern Connecticut State University were already using Accommodate, as were Gateway Community College and Norwalk Community College.
Simoni knew that there were scale economies to be realized in implementation of systems that would be consistent across campuses. Requirements Analysis and Design could be done once through Accommodate, instead of 17 times, resulting in a template system that could be implemented with appropriate localization for each campus. "We got a double benefit here. We are saving on implementation costs as we standardize process and systems," Simoni said.
Simoni, who oversees Student Conduct and Disability Services for CSCU, led the implementation project in partnership with Symplicity. Work began in the summer of 2019 to implement the Symplicity Accommodate system for the office of disability services. Despite the significant distraction of the COVID-19 pandemic, that system is now in production across CSCU campuses. Work has begun to implement the Symplicity Advocate and Advocate GME solutions, for student conduct and employee conduct, respectively, for several campuses and at the system level.
Many campuses manage these important services with small staffs, who often were relying on paper and spreadsheet-based systems to operate. “The new system has really helped us,” explains Daneen Huddart, Learning Disabilities Specialist at Northwestern Connecticut Community College. "Accommodate allows small offices to streamline the paperwork in a very efficient way so that it is possible to spend more one-on-one time helping our students with more in-depth communication and academic successes. I am so happy we have Accommodate! Their customer service is unbelievable. Our Symplicity client manager has been an invaluable asset during this process. It's a wonderful company to work with as they really care about people and helping our students."
The work of implementation continues. "We have more work to do to complete the consolidation effort as the vision for organization, policy, and IT continues to mature. We look forward to the continued support and partnership we've experienced with Symplicity so far as we contemplate that hard work," Simoni said.