The reason for revisiting the Datatel+SunGard layoffs issue is I realized I should show you some ways to monitor the Datatel+SunGard transition. I decided this after reflecting on my last post Datatel+SunGard Banner Customers Better Buckle Up and reading through the 2012 Student Information Systems: U.S. Higher Education Market Share, Trends and Leaders report for some blog ideas, and thought I should revisit the Datatel+SunGard layoffs a bit more.
A great deal of vendor management relies on having some degree of visibility into the vendor’s business. With publicly traded companies it is easy to obtain information on sales and financial health from SEC filings and analyst calls.
For most IT service providers you also have the benefit of SSAE 16 (formerly SAS70) audit reports. In the case of vendors for mission critical software, you might even have had the foresight to insist on software escrow which includes annual escrow audits.
But privately held companies enjoy certain opacity to their operations and many take full advantage of it. Even when they have public debt and some mandatory reporting it can still be a challenge to gain meaningful insights without mutual non-disclosure agreements that are usually not very helpful.
Your other option is employees providing reviews on sites like Glassdoor.com for SunGard Higher Education reviews and others just take it with a grain of salt.
LinkedIn Company Profiles
You may be surprised at what you can learn from a site like LinkedIn. Now I am not an expert in everything LinkedIn but apparently researchers at Cornell University found that the resumes on LinkedIn are more honest. Apparently they conclude that it’s due to the public nature of the LinkedIn resume being open for scrutiny by coworkers.
LinkedIn of course uses the data from people’s resumes and skill profiles to form profiles of companies. So when you look at the LinkedIn company statistics for Datatel and SunGard Higher Education and the other SIS vendors covered in the 2012 SIS Market report you gain some additional insights not covered in the report.
You may even gain some crucial insights for your vendor management strategy.
To illustrate this I am including here the screen captures of the Company Growth data for the SIS vendors as taken from LinkedIn last night.
Using the SunGard Higher Education Company Growth chart as an illustration you see the chart reflects the net gain/loss of employees as people update their profiles relative to the companies peer group by industry and size.
Now if you are like me, when you see the SunGard Company Growth chart you might conclude the August announcement of the Datatel+SunGard deal caused some employees to update their resumes giving a bump in growth then flat. The recent layoffs won’t show up until the March data is posted.
Now look at the other SIS vendors charts noting RJM Systems is not included because they have only 1 LinkedIn member and no Company Statistics. (Click Images to Enlarge)
If you are also like me you might note the growth of several companies that seems to coincide with several Key findings in the Tabellini Group 2012 SIS Market report.
Of course all of you can go onto LinkedIn and dig through the statistics with a standard LinkedIn account. If you do, you will want to look through the Company Growth Charts a bit more because they can be broken down by major job categories which might offer you some additional insights.
Also very interesting are the LinkedIn Company Profile charts related to employee churn. The “Employees who have changed their title” charts reflects the number of active employees for a given company who have changed their title.
I am only showing the SunGard Titles Change chart here because Campus Management, Datatel, Jenzabar, Three Rivers Systems and TopSchool had no title changes, RJM has no data, and because Oracle is just so much more than SIS I left it off.
I will leave it to you to decide what that might mean considering the Company Growth statistics.
Common Employee Skills
Each company profile includes the 10 most commons skills found in the LinkedIn profiles of the companies current employees. This list is perhaps a more interesting insight into company culture than you might think.
When I look at the Common Skills for SunGard Higher Education and I see:
SunGard: Datatel, WebCT, Enrollment Management, Blackboard, Sakai, UniBasic, Institutional Research, Higher Education, Financial Aid, FERPA
It creates for me an impression of the company culture. How do I get there you ask? I make an inference based on how the skills relate to technologies, products or customer oriented issues which reflects their needs.
This is a signal of sorts as to the degree to which the employees are oriented internally or externally as reflected by the skills which they find valuable enough to note in their LinkedIn profile. It’s rough but like I said it is an inference.
So let’s look at another for comparison to show you what I mean. And think about the results in the 2012 SIS Market report.
Datatel: Datatel, Unidata, UniBasic, Enrollment Management, Envision, Blackboard, Web Parts, Financial Aid, Higher Education, Student Services
Jenzabar: Financial Aid, Higher Education, Personalization, Educational Technology, Admissions, SaaS, Webinars, Universities, Registration, Solution Selling
Remember, it is entirely up to the individual as to what skills to include and as with any review of self-reported information it can be a very unique window into things. Don’t take my word for it. Go check out the others that have this data.
I realize this can be challenged which is why I am trying to just point you in a direction and encourage you to ascribe your own meaning to it. As you do, look for the big picture surrounding a company. Where do their employees come from and where do they go? What skills do they have which they value?
For the vendor you hold in the highest regard, how do your other vendors compare to them? Consider looking at the LMS vendors in the same way. Or even your own organization to a peer.
In the end I hope that you see you still have ways to do some degree of monitoring of your key vendors even if they are privately held. That includes being able to monitor the Datatel+SunGard transition. I would also argue that vendor management should have a hook into your social media monitoring strategy including measuring and monitoring their social influence.
The Higher Ed CIO