The Workers Educational Association (WEA) provides high- quality educational opportunities to communities throughout the UK. The mission of the WEA reaches far beyond simply teaching. Its mission is to raise aspirations, increase opportunities and inspire local community members to support and build and educational movement for social purpose. The WEA has 600 branches, 11,000 members, 2,800 volunteers and on average 50,000 students on 7,300 courses.
The WEA delivers on its mission managing a complex set of relationships between those who donate, become members, volunteer, campaign and of course enrol on courses. To manage these relationships effectively and allow the organisation to grow, the WEA leverages a Management Information System (MIS) which attempts to provide a 360-degree view of the business as well as provide interactive and automated business process management.
A New Reality
To meet their growth targets, the WEA is aware that their legacy MIS system, known as WEAMIS, can neither scale nor provide the features and functions that are required to allow the WEA to provide effective and modern service delivery. There are significant issues around Business Continuity, GDPR and Security.
The WEA are also looking to improve their OFSTED rating from ‘Good’ by implementing several changes through the SWIFT program a ‘Root and Branch’ organisational change in terms of structures, staff, governance, systems, processes and policies. Critical is the reference to ‘An effective process for managing change and business planning’.
This was also related to the need for a new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and CRM system to be planned from 2018 which needs to dovetail into the WEA ‘Go Digital’ strategy. Clearly, the IT systems supporting the WEA have been identified as critical platforms to enable business growth and development.
A Platform for Growth
Further on in the program, Color will begin to engage in platform migration as part of process re-engineering. Salesforce, deployed through Color offers the WEA the most extensive and cost effective platform for which to develop the business in the future. A next generation WEAMIS II needs to deliver benefits to key players in the WEA ecosystem. This not only includes all the business functions such as Finance, HR, Teaching Functions, IT – but also the key End Users.
To End User Students the system needs to deliver:
- Anytime, Anyplace, Any device secure access (3AS)
- Simple and intuitive user interface and experience (UX)
- Confidence of secure and private interactions with other key ecosystem members
- Ability to interact with external systems – e.g. placements and apprenticeships
- Multilingual options
For the administration and academic staff, the system needs to deliver:
- Capabilities to use generally available information to proactively market to the student base
- Simple and seamless on-boarding and registration capabilities
- Ability to interact and manage the student through a full lifecycle / journey
- Single dashboard view of the student’s key metrics
- Proactive, intelligent suggestions for new courses and to drive alumni
From a technology view the solution needs to deliver:
- Single, consolidated database
- Real-time processing capability
- Universal secure access
- Secure interfaces to external systems to allow correlation and corroboration of information
- Scalable system, capable of coping with peak processing requirements in the HE annual business cycle
- Ability to process the information with Business Intelligence / AI solutions to predict trends and highlight business opportunities or risk
- Full GDPR compliance with business continuity built in to the system
- Minimal capital expenditure and reliance on internally funded IT teams
For the WEA, with a business mission to grow and develop across the UK, a modern cloud- based platform is the optimum solution. Furthermore, with time pressures to migrate the system before existing solution components move to End of Life (EOL), cloud offers the only rapid delivery option. As part of a broader, longer term relationship, Color also present a general blueprint that considers API interfaces to all legacy systems including the voice call centre application, as well as additional legacy solutions.