Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 37 seconds

softwarereview-150Three Rivers Systems' CAMS Enterprise is a full-service technology solution for higher education institutions that are looking to streamline their systems and bring their administration technology up to speed. While so much of today's higher-ed technology is rooted in very old systems, CAMS feels that their totally modernized approach is the direction the industry is headed. The numbers that their users are reporting suggest they're right, too, with very impressive growth being attributed in large part to use of the system.

Unlike legacy-architecture systems that are retrofitted as cloud offerings, CAMS Cloud is a natural SaaS extension of CAMS Enterprise, the fully integrated, Webnative academic ERP built from the ground up around the latest Microsoft Internet technology.

In Use

CAMS Enterprise's integrated suite of portals - application, student, faculty, forum and alumni - provides a centralized communication hub for the campus, and includes productivity enhancing features like online applications, online registration with full electronic payment processing, and built-in learning management with online testing and grading. Fully integrated document management is also available throughout the CAMS Enterprise system and portals, giving users the tools to make any documents available at any time. CAMS Enterprise has been designed with easy-to-use reporting throughout the system. The "Build Your Own Report" tool provides users with a point-and-click interface to select just the data they need and a collection of predefined reports from which to choose. Reports that take weeks to produce and require support from the IT department with other systems take only minutes in CAMS.

The entire application uses a modern Web-based architecture to enable secure, reliable access from anywhere, anytime. Updates are applied automatically in minutes - as expected from any modern software system - rather than the long-term planning for an update that can take weeks or months to execute.

Data is handled using transaction processing for optimum performance and is stored securely in a single, normalized SQL database so users only manage and backup one database for all data. Instead of data that is synchronized between multiple databases for recruiting, student information, portals, course management, and more, all of your CAMS data is in one place so it is always available in real-time throughout the system. CAMS Enterprise eliminates expensive duplication of effort and the extensive information technology resources required by overcomplicated systems of the past. CAMS Enterprise provides:

  • A complete student information system that is easy to learn, use, support and adapt.
  • Live 24/7 access to real-time information.
  • A full suite of self-service portals - application, student, faculty and alumni with online registration.
  • Built-in course management. Fully integrated document management.
  • Quick implementation to realize productivity gains.
  • solid value with low, predictable cost of ownership.

Integrated modules include:

  • Admissions/CRM
  • Registration
  • Financial Aid
  • Student Billing
  • Faculty Information
  • Room Scheduling
  • Student Housing and Meals
  • Student Parking
  • Student Health
  • Student Placement
  • Fund Raising and Alumni Development
  • Document Tracking
  • CAMS Manager
  • Portals
    • Application
    • Student
    • Faculty
    • Forum
    • Alumni
  • Learning Management
  • Business Analytics
  • Mobility

Technology Employed

CAMS Enterprise is a fully Web-based solution built from the ground up for today's widely used Internet architecture. The application was created with all Microsoft technology to integrate easily with your existing infrastructure. The standard CAMS Enterprise configuration includes an application server, database server and a portal server, and uses Microsoft Windows Server, SQL Server and SQL Reporting Services.

CAMS Enterprise is a true 3-tier (n-tier), 100-percent browser-based solution, enabling true anywhere/anytime access to information and delivering full functionality with no client maintenance.

As with every generation of CAMS, the CAMS Enterprise application was completely rewritten to take advantage of the latest technology. When coupled with Three Rivers Systems' client-validated implementation methodology, this clean break from older technology allows CAMS Enterprise to be installed quickly and implemented rapidly, often in six to twelve months.

Alongside the administrative application, CAMS Enterprise offers a complete suite of fully integrated portals, a totally integrated Learning Management System and an architecture that supports real-time sharing of information at all levels. By building the system with shared data and shared programming from the beginning, CAMS Enterprise eliminates redundancy both in the application and in daily use, delivering an unparalleled ROI that continues to grow.

CAMS Cloud

Three Rivers Systems' software as a service solution eliminates many of the expenses and worries of operating an IT infrastructure and frees up resources to deliver on the institution's vision. CAMS Cloud provides offsite hosting and complete administration of full CAMS Enterprise ERP application and supporting infrastructure. This includes the procurement, provisioning, administration and monitoring of all network and hardware infrastructure and operating system, database and application software.

With this model, users can opt for a regular subscription payment instead of an upfront capital, licensing and maintenance expenses. CAMS Cloud offers complete CAMS ERP functionality - a fully integrated, comprehensive suite of modules that's as easy to use as any Web application - while t buying and managing the infrastructure necessary to support CAMS is taken care of by the company.

Ease-of-Use

As an all-inclusive, fully integrated, modern higher education administration system, CAMS Enterprise is built with standard Microsoft technologies to be intuitive and easy to learn. The system provides an efficient administrative structure, a fully integrated database and support for the entire applicant-to-alumni student lifecycle, in an effort to maximize the effectiveness of staff, faculty and administrators.

Too often implementations are time consuming and costly, endlessly delaying the new capabilities and productivity gains that institutions thought they were getting. With CAMS, they benefit from a client-validated rapid implementation process that gets institutions up and running in months, not years. With its parameterized and rule-based architecture, implementing CAMS Enterprise is quick and easy so users start benefitting from their investments right away.

CAMS Enterprise boasts:

  • Modern technology that installs quickly.
  • An experienced professional-services team to lead your institution through the implementation.
  • A parameterized and rule-based architecture that makes CAMS quick and easy to implement.
  • Implementation that takes months not years.
  • Experienced professional data-migration engineers to convert your data and move it between systems.

Managing the wrong higher-education administrative system can drain an institution's resources. With downtime, difficult configuration, painful updates and the consistent call for IT support, colleges and universities can expend significant staff time and money just keeping a system running. CAMS Enterprise has been designed to eliminate the hassle of running an academic ERP by being easy to set up, easy to update and easy to manage.

CAMS Enterprise also delivers:

  • A point-and-click management interface to set up functionality and maintain security.
  • Industry standard Microsoft technology that fits right into the institution's existing infrastructure, simplifying maintenance and making it easier to find trained and qualified staff.
  • Updates with an institution-managed process that automatically brings the system up to the latest release in minutes.
  • Full data audit trails and role-based security, allowing authorized users to manage access with a high degree of granularity and to know who changed data and when.

For maximum productivity gains, higher-education management system needs to be intuitive and consistent throughout the system. With CAMS' all-Web-based interface, staff can quickly learn to navigate because it uses the same point-and-click interface of the Internet. Once they learn one part of the system that knowledge transfers throughout CAMS.

In addition, CAMS Enterprise also includes:

  • An all-Web-based solution for familiar, intuitive operation.
  • Consistent interface for rapid productivity.
  • Easy to learn and use functionality. CAMS is extremely intuitive even for the novice or occasional computer user.
  • Navigation that is simple and consistent - learn one menu, you understand them all; learn one screen, you understand them all.
  • A solution that uses the institution's process - CAMS is set up with the terminology colleges already use so there is no additional learning curve.
  • With CAMS there are no codes to memorize or new terms to learn

Recap

Three Rivers Systems works extensively with the concept of "disruptive change," referring to the changing landscape of higher education and what those institutions need to do to remain competitive. With the advent of niche schools and online education opportunities, colleges and universities are facing more competition for the best and brightest students, which also means they are struggling to keep state and federal dollars. In the meantime, they're paying for multiple technology solutions and large IT departments to support those products.

CAMS Enterprise has worked to integrate a variety of different needs into their product, ranging from recruitment to graduation, and touching nearly everything in between. They've also approached the process in a way that is fitting for the modern state of technology, whereas many other similar type products are based on older, possibly outdated, modes of operation.

The product seems to offer a truly current method of dealing with administration, and it does it in a way that is familiar to those who would be using the system, such as having access through mobile device, using software that is similar to what would be used on smartphones, In talking with the company, it is clear that they are working to create a system that is responsive to the modern needs of higher education rather than building on what they see as outdated and outsized systems.

To that end, the company touts cost effectiveness as a major benefit. They offer up-front pricing that is all-inclusive with services such as implementation, data migration, and annual maintenance.

Advantages

  • Intuitive for users, which include faculty, staff, and students
  • More in-line with today's technology than many other products
  • Addresses a truly wide variety of the institution's needs
  • Company is very responsive

Disadvantages

  • Not a traditional product and could meet resistance from "the old guard"
  • Requires a total switch rather than simply building on an existing system

My Opinion

This product seems to meet the requirements for schools working with Millennials who grew up in the Web 2.0 era. It also seems to have some really good advantages when it comes to lowering overall administrative costs, particularly in the realm of IT. Their business analytics capabilities provide the opportunity to target the right students and pursue them, and then to keep them on track and supported throughout their educational experience.

The familiar nature of the interface, along with the attention spent to keeping it consistent provide a much more intuitive experience than what is sometimes the case with older, clunkier systems. For a school that is looking to keep pace with the times, Three Rivers Systems' CAM Enterprises is definitely worth consideration.


Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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