About the HESS Consortium

Private, non-profit colleges & universities working together in technology

HESS is a quickly growing group of private, non-profit colleges and universities committed to working together in a community of practice for CIOs, CFOs and technology professionals. Being a part of HESS means that our technology community is available to back you up with experience and expertise for specifically private institutions.

HESS Consortium History

At Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY on June 5, 2014, a meeting of CFOs and CIOs from 42 private higher education institutions and state associations called “The Administrative Systems Forum” took place. We realized that, throughout the country, private college/university Chief Business Officers (CBO) and Chief Information/Technology Officers (CIO) are mutually charged with providing mission critical administrative services in an environment of almost flat, if not decreasing, net revenues. We are asked to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative software services and related information technology to meet the increasing needs of diverse users while minimizing the resources used. Together, we are working in lockstep with our Presidents to determine how our tasks can best be accomplished, what marketplace options may be available to better meet out needs, and what innovative solutions are being implemented in our sector across the country.

Most of the major administrative software vendors (including Anthology, Ellucian, Jenzabar, Oracle and Workday) are in the process of redeveloping their products and subsequently restructuring their pricing models. New opportunities for collaborative pricing of vendor software, consultative services, Software-as-a-Service, Cloud Services and even shared services exist now and will continue to grow in the future. At the first Forum meeting, we heard from colleagues whom have already successfully implemented many of these collaborative cost-saving solutions and others who are ready to explore new partnerships and ways of doing business. This conference was not sponsored by, nor will be attended by, vendors providing a forum free from the distraction of sales representatives.

Attendees were invited to bring ideas, experience, questions and a willingness to have open-ended discussions with colleagues on a wide range of new solutions. The outcome was very positive from all the attendees and we are now working on next steps to discuss the formation of a new consortium focused on higher education ERP solutions, pricing and future emerging technologies that could change the way private institutions do business. If you are interested in becoming a part of this discussion to start a new ERP-focused consortium of private institutions, please register for an account here. Please note that only registrants from .edu contact email addresses and approved state associations will be given an account on this site to protect the membership from spam and unwanted advertising. Also, your information will not be shared to vendors or other outside sales entities.

WHAT ARE WE TODAY?

Today, the Higher Education Systems & Services Consortium or “The HESS Consortium” is a fully incorporated 501c3 non-profit, membership-governed organization. Keith Fowlkes, a veteran CIO in higher education and one of HESS’s co-founders, is the executive director of the organization. The HESS Consortium Board of Directors consists of CIOs, CFOs and other technology leadership from our national membership. The HESS Consortium is primarily a community of practice among CIOs and CFOs in private, non-profit higher education. One of our major focuses is on collectively lowering costs and increasing collaboration between specifically private colleges and universities in the area of administrative systems and services.

The HESS Consortium is made up of chief financial officers, chief information officers as well as technology and finance directors in a diverse group of schools committed to finding efficiencies and cost savings by working with other like-minded institutions. Together, we realize that, throughout the country, private college/university Chief Business Officers (CBO) and Chief Information/Technology Officers (CIO) are mutually charged with providing mission critical administrative services in an environment of almost flat, if not decreasing, net revenues. We are asked to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative software services and related information technology to meet the increasing needs of diverse users while minimizing the resources used.

We currently have strong relationships with major higher education ERP companies including: Anthology, Ellucian, Jenzabar, Oracle and Workday. Our individual cohorts are run by institutional leaders using ERP solutions from their respective companies.

 WHAT ARE OUR GOALS?

The goals for our member-governed consortium include 1.) vendor cohort teams in coordination with HESS member leadership to negotiate pricing discounts and programs for each of the major software vendors for both on-premise and in-the-cloud operations, 2.) develop a comparison process to look at all the major vendors’ pricing models and product features and 3.) to develop an affordable collaborative model for cloud-based operations as an option for those institutions interested. Organizationally, we will be developing institutional support/collaboration and shared service opportunities between our vendor cohort groups and business partners as well as best practices discussions for CIOs, CFOs and technical staff professionals within vendor product cohorts as well as between member institutions.

The HESS Consortium Online Leadership Community (OLC)

The HESS Consortium Online Leadership Community website or “HESS OLC” is a online discussion site exclusively for our member institutions’ CIOs, CTOs, CFOs and other technology professionals. The site is built on a sharing platform that allows all means of online interactions including text, file share, video and wiki development. You will find our new HESS OLC for 2023 to include many resources including a wiki database of our business partners and discount contract information.

You can learn more about the HESS OLC after you have become a member of the Consortium when you (and others in your organization) will be given a username and login. We hope to see you as a new community member soon.


The 2023 HESS Online Leadership Community Site
www.hessonlinecommunity.org

How is pricing negotiated between member institutions and vendor software partners?

All pricing and features negotiations go on between the vendor cohort groups and the vendor software partner directly. Vendor cohorts help develop RFP requirements and pricing standards and decide whether the features and pricing meet their individual institutional needs. Cohorts have the ability to accept RFP responses or request changes to the vendor software partner request. If an agreement cannot be made, the cohort has the ability to reject parts of the RFP response or reject the entire response. While most institutions have a non-disclosure statement that limits indivual pricing from being shared, member institutions can communicate whether a submitted pricing layout from their vendor is helpful to their institution or not. This is how cohorts can work together to find an optimal pricing model that is beneficial to all institutions in a vendor solution cohort.

All contracts with vendors are still done between the institutions and its vendor of choice. HESS negotiates the pricing agreement but the institution continues to contract, communicate and work with their vendor of choice as usual under the HESS collaborative agreement.

Is the work of HESS all about vendor pricing negotiations?

Absolutely not. HESS is first and foremost a community of practice for CIOs, CTOs, CFOs and technology professionals in specifically private, non-profit colleges and universities. While the HESS Consortium is concerned about pricing to member institutions, the group is also interested working more closely with vendor software partners to better collaborate on customer needs regarding features and future directions of the product- especially in cloud-based operations. Most importantly, we want to work together internally to promote better collaboration, information/expertise sharing and collective innovation on many areas of administrative and academic operations. We are starting the process of creating user forums and communities where administrative professionals can share their work and their questions with other professionals to collaborate and innovate on new collective solutions to operational automation and problems.

In short, we are interested in other private, non-profit colleges and universities who wish to support and aid each other in making our collective administrative operations better and more effective while finding new efficiencies.