The HESS Consortium Higher Education Technology Collective

The HESS Collective is currently made up of 58 private, non-profit HESS Consortium member institutions working to create a shared ERP services operation for private institutions that includes:

  • Private, non-profit colleges and universities moving into a common ERP / SIS platform

  • Institutions moving to a standard, best-practices software configuration for financial, human resources, student systems and student financial aid operations, developed by private college CIOs and CFOs

  • Sharing staff, expertise and other administrative systems resources between participating HESS Collective member institutions

  • Together, finding a modern, cloud-native ERP / SIS solution for the future – buying together, sharing together and growing together as private, non-profit institutions

  • First step, click here to join the HESS Consortium as a member (private, non-profit colleges and universities only)!


[Download the latest information e-book on the HESS Collective program here.]

[click here to see the announcement video]

The HESS Consortium Collective selects the Oracle Cloud for Higher Education
Solution as its Common, Cloud-native ERP/SIS Platform

February 4, 2021

Chief information officers and technology leaders from a group of 33 HESS Consortium member institutions- the HESS Consortium ERP/SIS Collective - have chosen Oracle Cloud for Higher Education as its new, common cloud-native ERP/SIS platform.

After reviewing a number of the major cloud-native software solutions, the group made the choice to select Oracle Cloud based on 1.) modern product functionality in Finance, Human Resources, Financial Aid and SIS, 2.) initial and long-term affordability and 3.) the ability to partner with the HESS Collective community in its vision to create a support and resource network for participating HESS Consortium member institutions.

The HESS Collective institutions were impressed with the modern functionality of the Oracle Cloud solution as well as its amazing scalability and affordability for our private, non-profit member institutions.  With their full-service team of Mythics and Drivestream selected to ensure a smooth and cost-effective procurement, implementation, training and support of the Oracle Fusion Cloud for Higher Education, the HESS Consortium Collective’s decision is one that will transform our private institutions’ ability to provide a high degree of excellence in ERP/SIS services to their campuses for decades to come.

By using the Mythics contract for Oracle products through E&I Cooperative Services, the HESS Collective institutions were able to negotiate exclusive HESS member pricing that was affordable for most all sizes of institutions in the HESS membership.  Not only are the initial costs incredibly affordable, the contract features 5-years at 0% increase and the next 5-years at a 0.4% annual increase.

“Finding a great software solution that was affordable was the central focus for our platform selection working group,” said Todd Norris, CIO at Saint Mary’s College – Notre Dame, IN.  “All of our HESS Collective working groups were focused on finding a modern, cloud-native product that both met our functional needs while being affordable to HESS private institutions with varying financial resources.  We are very excited that Oracle and their partners offered something that was truly groundbreaking to our private colleges and universities.”

“We believe that this partnership between the HESS Consortium, Oracle, Mythics, Drivestream and E&I will change the way private, non-profit institutions evaluate, purchase, implement and operate their ERP/SIS systems well into the future,” said Keith Fowlkes, Executive Director and co-founder of the HESS Consortium.  “The HESS Collective program has the potential to be a magnet for all private, non-profit colleges and universities in the U.S. for finding modern cloud-native ERP and SIS systems at amazingly affordable prices.  This is a true game-changer in private higher education technology.”

A common cloud-native solution also helps the HESS Collective participating institutions to work together to lower overhead costs in my areas.  The HESS Collective is also planning the HESS Collective ASSIST Support Network so that participating HESS member institutions can share technical and staff resources for planning, implementing and operating the Oracle Cloud solution with national best-practices for specifically private institutions.  Staff sharing is also being planned now for the Collective going forward which has promise to further lower operational costs for our participating HESS Consortium Collective members. 

The program offers institutions their own Oracle Cloud software instance in the Oracle cloud IaaS/PaaS while developing a best-practices framework to enable HESS Collective institutions to share integrations, groupsource staff training and share staff and staff expertise in the cloud. 

For more general information on the HESS Consortium Collective, click here.  Please share this with your colleagues in private, non-profit higher education.




The HESS Collective is a program subgroup under legal entity of the HESS Consortium. Your institution must be a member in good standing of the HESS Consortium to participate in the HESS Collective program.  If you would like to join the HESS Consortium, please click here for more information and online registration form.  If you would like to speak with someone about becoming a member of the HESS Consortium, please email

If you are a HESS Consortium member institution and would like to join the HESS Collective or would like to schedule a call to look at pricing for your HESS member institution, please email Keith Fowlkes, HESS Executive Director at

Learn more about the HESS Collective project below.  

*There is no buying commitment or cost to being a member of the HESS Collective group.




There are major changes in the national higher education landscape affecting U.S. private colleges and universities related to enrollment, demographics and cultural shifts.  Private higher education institutions are looking at flat or decreasing net revenues over the coming years.  With the changes ahead, seriously impacting our institutions that will be hitting hardest in 2026 and years after, private institutions are trying to find ways to collaborate with other institutions to save money and time as well as ease staff constraints.

We currently have 57 private, non-profit HESS Consortium institutions interested in creating and participating in a "shared ERP services operation." These 33 institutions are a part of our "HESS ERP Collective" group and are a subset of the 200+ HESS Consortium members across the U.S.

The high-level goals of the Collective initiative are 1.) move to a common, modern and affordable cloud-native ERP/SIS solution, 2.) move to a common contract vehicle through a partnership with E&I Cooperative Services for software and services, 3.) develop a shared archive to ease migration and implementation costs and 4.) create a network of HESS Collective schools to both share staff resources and expertise to lower staff costs. 

As our planning and development process moves forward, we will be seeking partners in this initiative as well as solutions selection.  Another major goal for our group is finding a grant funding partner that can help our private colleges and universities develop and adopt this new paradigm in ERP/SIS operations nationally.

Many smaller institutions are desperately looking for ways to share services, expertise and staff resources to lower technology costs, specifically in their enterprise resource planning (ERP/SIS) systems.  As CIOs in U.S. private higher education, we believe that it is time to discuss a new concept, centered on shared technology operations. This type of project has never been attempted on a national scale because of technological limitations. Our HESS Collective members believe that, possibly for the first time ever, this type of national ERP shared services model is now attainable with the use of cloud-based technologies and employees who are experienced in collaborating remotely.  These private institutions also believe that the HESS Consortium organization, a non-profit organization, focused on specifically small to mid-sized private colleges and universities, can be the nexus for shared ERP and staff-sharing services.

This could be done in several different forms but all of these should be focused on information technology systems, operations and resource sharing to help institutions interested in joining an effort to develop an innovative and financially sustainable approach to ERP/SIS operations for our small and mid-sized private institutions. 

We know that this model will not be possible for every institution, but we want to give energy to this concept if there are HESS institutions interested in partnering together in this way. 

As you see below, we conducted in-depth demonstration sessions for our HESS institutions from all three of our HESS / E&I contract partners in December and November 2020  - Oracle (for Oracle Cloud), UNIT4 and Workday.  Again, the objective was to select a single, cloud-native ERP/SIS solution platform and implementation partner for HESS member institutions to take advantage of special "HESS Collective" pricing, terms and conditions as well as the collaborative services of the HESS Consortium Collective group. (see below)



Network of Staff and Resource Sharing

The primary question that this document will ask is “is it possible for a group of HESS institutions to work together to move to a consolidated and “shared” cloud-based, cloud-native ERP solution to find economies of scale in our technology operations.  Some of these economies of scale and benefits include:

  • Group review and selection of one (or more) of our contract partners as a cohort group partner
  • Cohort “buy” of an ERP cloud-native solution and all necessary software tools
  • Cohort “buy” of an ERP implementation, consulting and project management services
  • Cohort sharing of implementation and integration resources for a new system
  • Cohort shared governance on system and business processes, practices and standards
  • Cohort sharing of staff expertise, skills and possibly, time for DBA, programming and support services
  • Cohort future development of shared operations in technology, business and other services
  • The added safety and support that only comes from working with other like-institutions working on the same initiative

Illustration 1: Resource and Staff Sharing


What is meant by "shared services" for the HESS Consortium Collective Program?

The HESS Consortium Collective program plans to build a shared services network around the common enterprise system platform, Oracle Cloud for Higher Education.  We are planning two phases of this shared services plan:

  • Phase 1 - HESS Collective Program ASSIST Member Network: With the assistance of Drivestream and our participating member institutions, the HESS Consortium Collective program will build an expert network among our participating institutions that can share implementation and integration resources, staff time and staff expertise to others within the program.  This sharing among our member institutions will be done either voluntarily as a service to their fellow members or through a token exchange that may include some form of remuneration between institutions.

  • Phase 2 - HESS Consortium Collective Program Full Shared Services Network: As the needs of the HESS Collective program and our program member participants grow, our Collective steering committee plans to explore the option of creating full and/or part-time staff within the Consortium to provide certain types of services to the members.  These services could include centralized database management, report writing, systems and functional department training, integration support, etc.

These types of shared services have been done regionally for decades.  Even though these other ERP shared services projects have been centered around shared datacenter installations with staff and hardware/facilities overhead, times have changed.  Now that systems and operations are provided by many solution providers in the cloud and communications via web conferencing are quick and easy, there is little need for a shared facility with staff, servers and equipment overhead to operate a shared system outside the vendors’ services.  In concept, staffing and expertise in colleges and universities inside a cohort could do the work necessary to implement, manage, enhance and support systems for multiple institutions.  Staff resources could be shared between institutions while other schools would reallocate staff to customer-facing functions.  Some institutions, in theory, could eliminate or reduce positions connected with ERP operations and lower their overhead costs.


The operational model is centered around the "Common Structural Framework Model" that includes 1.) Core Database and Reporting platform, 2.) Student Information System and Portal, 3.) Finance/Accounting, 4.) Human Resources and 5.) Student Financial Aid (see illustration 2).  As we develop the model, it could include other software needs such as housing, LMS and CRM.

Illustration 2: Common Structural Framework

This concept cost model would include 1.) implementation, installation, and migration costs, 2.) support and training costs, 3.) on-going maintenance and licensing costs and 4.) enhancement and upgrade costs.  All servers, systems and storage would be provided through the solution provider or through 3rd party cloud services eliminating the need for on-campus equipment and storage necessary for the ERP itself. 

General questions for exploration in how a cohort might work together in this cost model would include:

  1. What services and at what level of support would an institution need for implementation
  2. What could be shared between institutions within the cohort model on implementation costs  - reports, system configurations, customizations (by shared standards on business practices), training resources, etc.)
  3. Would the system be multi-instance or single tenant-based?  How closely could the business practices of institutions be defined to share tenancy?  What would have to be unique to institutional operations?
  4. Which institutions could/would be able to share their DBA, programmers, training and support resources with the other cohort members and how would this affect those institutions’ costs for the overall shared service?

click to enlarge 
llustrations of how staff sharing phases and the token-based HESS ASSIST Collaboration Network would be designed (click each to enlarge)

After the core common structural framework is built for one model institution, the model could be economically replicated in the cloud for other institutions (see Figure 3 below).  All institutional data would be segmented and separated within database tables and stores, eliminating any possibility of co-mingling student, financial and human resources information with other institutions.  All confidential data would be kept confidential to its institutional owner although shared database administrators (DBA) may require their having access to institutions’ data for operational, reporting and auditing purchases.  Because of this, all employee time that is shared by the cohort group would sign a legal non-disclosure agreement with strict penalties for violations of the shared privacy and confidentiality agreement.


The question of how costs could be shared among institutions within a cohort can be approached by answering the following questions within the cohort agreement:

  • General costs of sharing a solution provider, cloud services, backup/recovery/redundancy, report writing, training collaboration and other purchased services could be found by a cohort group buy and would result in a substantial savings.
  • Shared staffing costs would be evaluated based on the needs of the institution and the services an institution would provide to the cohort.

    EXAMPLE: A cohort institution providing a 25% FTE staff position for DBA services might pay relatively less in collective services than an institution providing no FTE staff time to the cohort.  Other types of subsequent services would be valued likewise based on current CUPA salary data.

Illustration 3: Replication of the Common Framework Model

Business practices are the crucial key in this process as it may require some institutions to change or amend their internal business practices, schedules, standards and policies to work with a cohort group of other, like-minded institutions. Functional aspects of such changes could touch on operational items such as:

  • Accounting systems, processes and practices
  • Human resources processes and practices
  • Student records processes, reporting, schedules and practices
  • Audit services, processes, reporting and practices
  • Data-privacy processes, reporting and practices
  • System support processes, reporting and practices
  • Development and adherence to shared business practices and shared governance
  • Development of a steering committee and functional area committees for all operational areas including 1.) information technology, 2.) financial services, 3.) human resources, 4.) Academic Affairs / Registrar and 5.) student financial aid.

These items are at the heart of college and university operations and are necessary areas for management and normalization of business processes and practices using a shared system.  This decision process would be done as a collective group of chief financial officers, chief information officers, human resources leadership, registrars and other key managers and staff.  Guided by leaders and selected solutions provider(s), these key leadership groups would outline a straightforward set of standards for a shared policies and procedures document to govern the cohort’s activities and partnership.  Once those standards are set, institutions would follow these standards and practices to operate a shared system and manage necessary operational workflows for their organizations.


What is a Cloud Transformation Assessment?

Drivestream Cloud Transformation Assessment (CTA) is a highly interactive, informative, and structured workshop that will help HESS member institutions to clarify their strategy, identify business value, and lay out a roadmap for migrating to Oracle Cloud applications. It will help members to determine their overall readiness for migrating to the Oracle cloud.

CTA is one of Drivestream’s Strategy & Advisory service offering with costs that range from $50K to $100K depending on size and complexity of the institution. However, as a special promotion for HESS Consortium members this is being offered at NO COST.

Completing a CTA Workshop is the first step towards a holistic cloud transformation. After completing the workshop, Drivestream will provide a report that:

  • Maps current systems (for example: Ellucian/Banner) and processes to the Oracle cloud

  • Identifies Oracle modules that will improve current state functions and processes through transformation and adoption of best practices

  • Defines the project scope, implementation approach, and project timeline

  • Identifies change and provides guidance on optimizing adoption

  • Identifies project risks, if any, and provides a mitigation approach based on lessons learned

  • Articulates the overall value of the cloud transformation for the member institution

The end result is that HESS members will be well prepared for a successful transformative journey to the Oracle cloud.

If you are a current HESS Consortium member institution and interested in joining the HESS Collective Shared ERP Services Initiative, please click here to fill out the questionaire and application form.  If you have any questions about the HESS Consortium, this HESS Collective project whitepaper and the information contained here, please contact Keith Fowlkes at