AMA Education System (AMAES) runs a number of higher education institutes, including AMA University and Computer Colleges —the largest information and communications technology university in Asia. AMAES employs approximately 5,000 faculty and administrative staff, and teaches more than 150,000 students per year. The institution offers more than 24 undergraduate and master’s courses in arts, education, information and communications technology, and science, including Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Business Administration (MBA). It also offers shorter maritime, aviation, healthcare, and call-center courses.
In mid-2008, AMAES deployed Oracle E-Business Suite’s Oracle Financials, followed by a variety of Oracle’s PeopleSoft Campus Solutions modules in November 2011. The institute can now close month-end accounts 9x faster and has dramatically enhanced the administration services it delivers to students and staff.
Founded in Manila in 1980, AMAES has developed from a single-campus institution with 13 students and 13 computers to an international network of higher education institutes with 200 campuses and affiliate colleges (known as branches). The institute has grown particularly rapidly in the past 30 years, from around 50 branches to 200 branches. This resulted in a number of disparate servers and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems across its dispersed locations.
It took up to three months for AMAES to consolidate information, such as month-end financial data, from four different financial applications used at the national and international branches. Accounting and ad-hoc financial reports, detailing information, such as power and other utility costs, could take up to several weeks to create from information provided by the different branches. It cost approximately US$10,600 (PHP 450,000) per year to courier documents that were too large to e-mail from branches to managers at the Manila head office. AMAES was also spending a lot of time, effort, and money on maintaining its disparate infrastructure and systems.
In addition, AMAES wished to provide a better service to current and potential students, their parents, and staff, faculty, and alumni. It needed to give them real-time, online access to important information about tuition fees, enrollment, current curricula, and grades.
Under the legacy system, students had to visit their university or college to discuss fees and payments with the accounts staff. They could also only access end-of-semester grades using campus computers a week before next semester’s enrollment started. Internally, it took at least four or five days for branches to provide managers at the head office with requested student related reports, such as enrollment numbers for each course.
Without consolidated, standardized financial and student administration systems, AMAES struggled to implement new rules and processes—such as how tuition fee payments were recorded—deploy and coordinate software, and train staff across 200 branches. The institute needed to implement stable, flexible, accessible, Web-based, multicurrency and multicountry applications, to integrate financial information and better manage student administration processes, including admissions, financial aid, student records, and tuition fees.
AMAES is using Oracle Financials to consolidate financial information—such as payments for tuition fees, course costs, and other accounts payable and receivable, and general ledger data—from its 104 nonfranchised branches. The education institution can now close its month-end accounts in 10 days, rather than taking 60 to 90 days, using its disparate legacy systems.
“It took several weeks for the branches to send their month-end financial reports to head office and even longer to consolidate the relevant information,” said Edwin Santos, head of IT department, AMA Education System. “Now, staff at each branch can enter financial information about their students, courses, and accounts straight into the integrated Oracle application, and financial staff at head office can generate consolidated financial reports from there.”
Oracle Financials has also enabled AMAES to generate ad-hoc reports showing financial information, such as detailed power, water, or internet expenditure, 2x to 4x faster.
Previously, it could take more than four days for the institute to collect, integrate, and drill down into utilities data from 104 branches to create detailed reports about utilities usage.
“Manually consolidating up to 12 months of financial data about utilities or fixed assets expenditure was an arduous and time-consuming process,” said Santos. “Having this information from 104 branches integrated in Oracle Financials means we can quickly generate reports to see daily, weekly, or monthly data combined or broken down by branch.
“Staff at headquarters then can check this information with the different branches, and the process is complete in a day or two. This also enables managers at the head office to make better informed and timelier decisions about overheads and branch expenditures,” he said.
In addition, AMAES previously needed to courier workflow documents, such as liquidation reports and accounts receivable details, that were too big to e-mail and needed approval or checking by managers for financial reports and student administration. Now that financial information is integrated, managers at the head office can immediately see and approve documents online, and this has reduced courier costs by 15%.
Prior to implementing Oracle Financials, accounting staff at AMAES’s head office had to reenter accounts and financial information, such as student tuition payments, sent from the institute’s 104 nonfranchised branches into the main financial system. As financial staff at each branch can now enter information straight into the consolidated application, AMAES has reduced its financial team’s manpower requirements by 40%.
“Each branch had an equivalent financial employee at the head office who would enter general ledger and detailed student and course-related financial information into the main database,” said Santos. “We’ve now redeployed these counterparts to more valuable tasks.”
AMAES has also reduced the number of highly skilled staff required to install and maintain its IT infrastructure—and reduced other costs—by lowering the number of servers and systems it uses at its 104 nonfranchised branches.
“We have replaced four financial systems with one consolidated application and now only have one server array comprising 24 servers to maintain,” said Santos. “We no longer need to train and maintain a team of skilled IT maintenance staff at each branch, and we are more assured of a faster recovery time in the event of an emergency.”
AMAES is using Oracle’s PeopleSoft Campus Solutions modules to better manage its student administration processes, and has improved the services it can offer students, faculty, administrative staff, alumni, and related parties, such as families and franchisees.
“Students and staff can now see information, such as course grades, current curriculum, and tuition fees online in real time,” explained Santos. “In the past, students could only access their grades during the week before the next enrollment and had to go to their campus to use the university’s intranet. This was time consuming and inconvenient, especially as the computers were also needed for teaching.”
By providing students with accessible, up-to-date information about enrollment, courses, and grades, AMAES has improved student satisfaction and anticipates it will attract more enrollment to grow its business.
PeopleSoft Campus Solutions enabled AMAES’s head office staff to provide senior managers with student-related reports significantly faster. Previously, it took at least four or five days to request, receive, and consolidate reports showing lists of students enrolled on each course, for example. Now head office staff can quickly generate those reports, based on consolidated student and course information entered by university branches, into the integrated application.
“Student administration staff were manually recording student enrollment, course attendance, and other related information on spreadsheets,” said Santos. “Some staff members found it difficult to execute data queries and generate reports from this information, and they needed help from head office to extract the relevant information before we could provide the requested reports. Reports were also named inconsistently, and it took time to ensure student and course data from different branches were consolidated correctly.
“Now branches all enter the same standardized data into the integrated PeopleSoft application, accurate student lists and reports can be generated faster without going back and forth to the branches.”
AMAES can now also generate analytical reports from PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, such as profitability analysis reports for each course, that weren’t available previously.
In addition, having an integrated student administration system and standardized data means that AMAES will only have to install updates and implement new rules once, rather than visiting each of the 170-plus franchised and nonfranchised branches where PeopleSoft Campus Solutions will eventually be deployed. The institute will also be able to easily deploy PeopleSoft Campus Solutions to additional campuses, as the application is centrally hosted and in the cloud.
AMAES assessed a number of other software vendors, including SAP and Banner Solutions, but it chose Oracle, as the institute felt Oracle products were best-in-class and would best meet its needs.
“Our Chairman, Dr. Amable Aguiluz V, and President, Dr. Amable Aguiluz IX, were both aware of Oracle’s reputation and were highly instrumental in bringing Oracle solutions to the table,” said Santos. “They believed that Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft Campus Solutions were more responsive and robust than their competitors and were very competitively priced. They were both deeply involved in the project, to the level of working on implementation details.”
According to Santos, Oracle also has a strong reputation in the higher education industry and already incorporates best practice industry standards. “We believe that PeopleSoft Campus Solutions and its Higher Education User Group will allow us to learn from the best practices of the world’s top educational institutions,” he said. “PeopleSoft Campus Solutions will also teach us how we can grow our business in the future.”
AMAES chose Oracle Financials in 2007 and began the implementation in August 2008. The application went live in November 2008 and is currently deployed at 104 branches.
AMAES began implementing the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions modules in February 2011. The application was rolled out to the institute’s 11 trimestral campuses in November 2011 and another 30 branches in the Philippines in early 2012.
“A crucial component of the implementation was the really high degree of involvement of AMAES’s chairman, president and other senior officers,” said Santos.
AMAES plans to deploy PeopleSoft Campus Solutions across its international branches soon. It will eventually go live at more than 170 franchised and nonfranchised branches.
AMAES engaged Oracle Partner Active Business Solutions, Inc. (ABS) to implement its Oracle Financials application. ABS is well-versed in Oracle E-Business Suite applications and took time to understand AMAES’s business and processes.
“ABS worked with us proactively to help us get the best out of the features Oracle Financials had to offer,” said Santos.
AMAES engaged Oracle Specialized Partner HP (Philippines) and Oracle Partner Techlogix to help implement the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions modules.
HP provided AMAES with hardware-related advice and support, as well as training the institute’s IT technicians. Techlogix helped AMAES implement and customize the PeopleSoft application, and provided onsite training to an AMAES team, so it could train other members of the institutes.
“Techlogix is still providing onsite and offsite support during our first year using PeopleSoft,” said Santos.