Moving Finance to Oracle Cloud in Higher Education – Part 4 Advanced Collections

Moving Finance to Oracle Cloud in Higher Education – Part 4 Advanced Collections

Author: Luke Darbyshire, ERP Functional Consultant, Namos Solutions

As HE Lead, Richard Clayton mentioned in his previous blog, HE collections strategies is a blog in its own right. He also didn’t promise that the third instalment in the series would be the last!

The relationship between a HEI and its students can be a complex one, and perhaps is at its most complex when it comes to the payment of fees.

Having spent almost 10 years working in HE, I know from experience that the variety of activities undertaken by a HEI for which students may be billed can be similarly complex. It is easy to see how this complexity can grow over time as new programmes of study, new methods of delivery, and new types of activities are brought online each with their own particularities and requirements.

Oracle Cloud’s Advanced Collections functionality can accommodate complexity, however, building a spaceship will always be costly and difficult, both during implementation and post go-live when you need to accommodate new requirements arising from new initiatives.

The challenge then is to try and identify ways to simplify and to align. A good implementation partner with HE experience will be able to support you through this, but this blog will suggest some key considerations to think about before kicking off your implementation.

(I’ll also call Richard’s Kipling and raise him TS Eliot…)

In my beginning is my end

While collections may come towards the end of the Order to Cash process, it should always be at the front of your mind when making any decisions on any aspect of your Accounts Receivable implementation. It is those beginnings – how you create your customers, how you set up your transactions, how you integrate this data from your existing student systems – that will determine how successful your Advanced Collections implementation can be. Each of those decisions must be taken with an understanding of how it will affect collections.

For example, one of the most powerful features of Advanced Collections is Segmentation. This enables you to automatically apply different Strategies (a sequence of automated or manual tasks assigned to customers with overdue balances) to different customers based on various categorisations. One of these categorisations is the Profile Class assigned to each of your customers. Therefore, being cognisant of collections when setting up your Profile Classes as part of your customer model can be a great way of enabling your Advanced Collections build to debt chase your different categories of students appropriately. Fail to think ahead when designing your profile classes and you could lose a powerful tool which will make implementing Collections much more challenging.

A Condition of Complete Simplicity

Whether for identifying ways for you to simplify your policies and business processes, or simply for communicating how you work to your implementation partner, boiling down all the complications of your various collections requirements into a single document before starting implementation will help you enormously.

Below are some suggestions for what this document or matrix should cover. It may be difficult, but try not to give any answers that starts ‘in our current ERP system’; these questions are intended to tease out your what your Oracle Cloud implementation needs to do, not how you currently do it.

  • What activities do you need to raise invoices for? This will likely include tuition and accommodation fees, but may include a variety of other ancillary charges.
  • When are your students liable for these invoices and when are they due for payment? This may be straight forward for students being charged for a standard academic year, but be sure to capture those studying programmes charged by module, on a non-standard year, studying at an overseas campus, or on pre-sessional programmes.
  • What recourse can you take in the event of non-payment? This may include academic sanctions for tuition fees, but other actions for ancillary charges. There may be differences for overseas students where the sponsorship of Tier 4 visas can be affected by non-payment.
  • What is your policy for sponsored students? Consider how this differs for students funded through the SLC versus those sponsored by another third party. Detail how and when information relating to sponsorship is captured and processed.
  • What governance determines your payment terms and recourse in the event of non-payment? This may include any agreements accepted by students on registration; University charters, regulations, or codes of conduct; policies of third parties such as the Student Loan Company or the Office for Students.
  • Who are the stakeholders at your HEI you would need to engage for agreeing changes to your collections policies? This may include your legal office, student records department, and various committees or working groups.
  • What are your student welfare policies in relation to non-payment of fees? You may need to review mitigations, or have visibility for welfare colleagues, before advanced stages of the collections process.

As you have seen, too much ink has already been spilled on student collections to also cover collections for research funders, but at Namos we love to talk collections so please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspect of this further.

About Namos Solutions
Namos Solutions are an award-winning Oracle OPN Modernised Partner specialising in the implementation and support of ERP, EPM and HCM business solutions, both in the Cloud and on-premise.

Although based in central London, we work wherever our clients need us to be.  Many leading organisations located all over the world trust and rely on our expertise to deliver industry-leading business solutions.  Namos customers can currently be found in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific, North America and Africa. 

For more information, please visit www.namossolutions.com or email info@namossolutions.com.

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