College and University Back Offices Face Toughest AP Test Yet

COVID-19 isn’t the only concern colleges and universities are facing this Fall, but it does bring several other issues to light. Take, for example, the fact that two-thirds of higher education finance and administration departments lack the software to work remotely.

Which isn’t a critical problem, of course, until everyone has to work remotely…immediately.

Wakefield Higher Ed Report

Learn the steps to take to navigate the future of work.


Other campus concerns exacerbated by the pandemic include the loss of state and private funding, loss of revenue from sources such as housing and athletics, and the tightening of budgets, all while increasing focus on student success and minimizing tuition debt burden.

Not an easy year, in other words – perhaps the toughest challenge higher education administrators have ever faced, in fact. And according to a Wakefield Research survey of 350 higher ed finance and admin staff, the numbers are still wrecking the curve:

  • Only 16% of staff can continue to work remotely without hurting department productivity.
  • 60% are prepared to reduce pay or cut staff to offset budget shortfalls.
  • 71% are concerned with complying with regulations due to sustained remote work.

These decision makers are being asked – once again – to do more with less. It’s just that this time, it’s much more, with much less. Less money, less staff and, frankly, less of an understanding of what’s going to happen next.

At the same time, they realize that getting through these challenges is going to take investment. When asked, 99% of these decision makers agreed that certain investments must be made to maintain developmental operations. Eighty-four percent of them want funding for technology that will integrate systems, devices, and spend data, so they can see where they can save.

Other data in the report suggests ways colleges and universities are hoping to improve how they handle financial operations remotely:

  • 46% Want to adopt mobile practices
  • 43% Want visibility into real-time expense information
  • 43% Want to automate invoice processing

So, what does Wakefield recommend?

  •  Moving operations online quickly.
  • Updating technology as a means of offsetting budget shortfalls and inadequate staffing.
  • Managing spend, invoices, and expenses to avoid significant delays in handling accounts.

These technologies will improve back-office efficiency, highlight savings opportunities, and improve productivity – finally allowing them to do more with less. By integrating and automating how they manage invoices and expenses, higher ed will have the time and resources to turn their attention back to students and staff.

And that’s a test they cannot afford to fail.

See the full Wakefield report for more.

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