Your Guide To A Successful Cloud Implementation

When Vanderbilt University wanted to increase productivity and modernize its enterprise systems on campus, university leaders worked with Huron to implement SkyVU, a cloud-based platform that combines the university’s business, financial, HR, budget and planning systems.

Follow along on their cloud journey and discover the top lessons they learned from their cloud implementation.

Upgrading Their Legacy Systems

The challenge Vanderbilt faced is similar to that of many other higher education institutions: Leaping from antiquated mainframe technology to a modern cloud-based solution.

legacy-timeline 1980s 1990s 2000s Present Mainframe Client-Server Web Cloud

SkyVU Mission Statement

Securing commitment from an executive sponsor was a key factor for Vanderbilt’s cloud transformation. The SkyVU mission statement was evidence of the dedication and support from all levels of the university:

Support Vanderbilt University’s academic mission by modernizing its financial, administrative and research support systems.

Consolidating Multiple Systems

SkyVU was the internal Vanderbilt brand for the cloud initiative and the vehicle through which dozens of separate administrative systems were consolidated into one, comprehensive cloud-based platform.

cloud-benefits Timesheet Procurement HR Travel andReimbursement Recruiting Finance Grants andContracts Gifts andEndowments Benefits

The Nine Most Important Lessons Vanderbilt Learned During Its Cloud Implementation Journey:


Gain buy-in to the cloud philosophy with your stakeholders

Academic and Administrative

School and Department


Lead the change with a clear vision, mission and guiding principles for the transformation

Generate Sponsorship for Change

Establish and Communicate Business Case for Action

Reinforce Goals with Rewards and Recognition Systems


Create change networks for collaboration at every stage of implementation

Business Partners:
Partner through the discovery phase

Change Leaders:
Advocate for the project and transformation

Change Liaisons:
Provide ongoing communication and feedback


Receive executive engagement and support throughout the project’s lifecycle

Focus on the value of the project

Highlight benefits it will bring

Communicate the major changes that will occur


Prepare for how cloud will change business processes

Speed: Fast-paced processes can be overwhelming

Implementation Lifecycle: Highly iterative and can make decisions harder to revisit

Learning: Stakeholders must learn quickly


Form cross-functional groups for challenging topics

Avoid siloed design

Engage broader audience

Serve as change agents


Evaluate the need for any remaining legacy systems

Evaluation Criteria:
Understand purpose, number of users impacted and alternatives

Evaluation Process:
Make business case and get executive approval

Communication Decisions:
Contact system owners, administrators and users with decisions


Build an inventory of all the business processes being transformed as part of the cloud project





Engage with your product vendor for resources and tools

Product Development:
Understand purpose of product design

Service Requests Management:
Learn protocol for refreshes and patching

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