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Sam Houston State University leadership explores their implementation experience with EduNav

John Jordan, Ed.D., Assistant Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, and Justin Vick, Director of Advising Projects, know what can go wrong with a new software implementation. They’ve gone through quite a few together at Sam Houston State University, to the point of developing a seamless transition from initial decision-making by John to day-to-day project management, led by Justin.  

These experiences have helped the two colleagues develop three questions to confirm they’ve chosen the right technology partner. What do their answers to these questions highlight about EduNav? They recently joined us to share more about their experience with implementing this course planning technology.  

Question 1: Does the course planning technology do what they say it will do? 

“It seems like it would go without saying, but we’ve honestly worked with so many vendors who have said they could work with our existing SIS and ERP systems. But then, in reality, the integration was nowhere near where it needed to be,” shared John.  

He continued: “That’s something that stuck out with EduNav — so many potential partners said they could remove the clunkiness of course planning and registration, but none were anywhere near as conversant in our existing systems as EduNav is.” 

“It extends beyond just the basic integration, too,” added Justin. “For instance, many times we’ve been promised predictive data. But with EduNav, they actually are pulling it and sharing it in a way that we can use to inform decisions down the road.”  

Question 2: Does the technology partner know what they say they know? 

John and Justin have found that the right technology partner is experienced enough to clearly communicate the roles and responsibilities on both sides. This is key to keeping the project on track, and it’s even better if the partner taps into their experience to avoid what’s waylaid similar projects in the past.  

“With EduNav, the program build went really smoothly. It was clear that we needed to provide a certain type of documentation around requirements and advising rules in order for EduNav to translate it,” shared Justin. “Once we did, EduNav did their part and then tested everything in front of us, working closely with us to make sure that the configuration met our unique needs.”  

Question 3: Is your work together more impactful than you expected it would be? 

Since most institutions have a full-blown technology ecosystem, introducing one new solution into the mix can have far-reaching effects, oftentimes for the worse but in the best cases, for the better.  

With EduNav, it was the latter.  

Implementing EduNav improved the student and advisor experience while empowering institutional leaders to make data-driven decisions. Beyond that, it highlighted areas of opportunity for optimizing SHSU’s internal operations, too.  

“Now, we’ve done prerequisite cleanup in Banner, we’ve done scribing in DegreeWorks — tasks that help EduNav run smoother, but they also help us optimize our overall program offerings, too,” reflected John.  

“The 18 programs that had 0 enrolled students for multiple semesters? Working with EduNav, we quickly pinpointed them and now we’re using this information to spur conversations about the viability of programs at the cabinet level. We’re focusing on the value that SHSU can offer to students going into the future, using our own actual historical data to make the right course planning decisions moving forward.”  

What other lessons have John and Justin learned as they’ve navigated new technology partnerships together? Quite a few, but John summarizes them with a tie back to the theme of communication: “Communication — perhaps even overcommunication — is key to the success of working with any technology partner. That can come through emails and announcements at every step along the way, and it’s also related to setting deadlines and gaining buy-in from the very beginning of the process.  

With EduNav, we had regular meetings with all of the right people in the room from both sides, another reason why working with this course planning technology partner stands out as one of the better vendor experiences that we’ve had at SHSU.”