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La Trobe University’s Simple Plan for Preserving the Future

La Trobe University is a Melbourne-based public university with the distinction of having the largest collegiate campus in all of Australia.

La Trobe prides itself on its “future ready” strategy, which includes key disciplines like discovering solutions for protecting the environment and providing for greater sustainability.

Remarkably, the university first began a research study on tropical forests over 50 years ago. In fact, it is one of the longest-running global studies ever conducted. Their findings, which were recently published by the National Academy of Sciences, highlight the critical importance of early life-cycle stages of plants in shaping rainforests.

The university’s commitment to nature also includes overseeing the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary. This safe haven for native plants and animals,including the wallabies pictured below,was established in 1967. Its initial charter was to restore indigenous flora and fauna, and today the pristine reserve has grown to over 30 hectares of bushland that hundreds of species of protected plants and wildlife call home.

Not surprisingly, the higher educational opportunities presented by the university’s commitment to the future required an increase in funds in order to continue. Therefore, La Trobe needed to free up capital by scaling back everywhere possible, including hardware and infrastructure expenditures. Fortuitously, the opportunities and scalability that are possible today by automating existing systems in the cloud arrived with impeccable timing.

La Trobe University CFO Gary Seach recently described some of the challenges the university was facing from a finance perspective. “Across the sector, all universities are facing restricted funding and a much more competitive environment – so we needed to have flexibility.”

Driving efficiency would require La Trobe to make some bold moves toward streamlining processes and optimizing the IT systems on which they run. Mr. Seach remarked that his goal was to reduce the complexity created by years of inefficient customizations to eliminate duplicitous handling of financial data.

After a competitive search, La Trobe chose the SAP Simple Finance solution to simplify the management of financial processes end to end. La Trobe migrated its systems to the SAP HANA platform for its in-memory computing capabilities and also transitioned the management of its assets, inventory, financials and student body to the cloud.

“This (SAP) implementation is helping La Trobe drive efficiency by leveraging the best practices made possible with SAP Simple Finance.”

                                                                          Gary Seach, CFO, La Trobe University

SAP Simple Finance powered by SAP S/4 HANA did precisely what La Trobe desperately required, and it took just one or two people to cleanse 15 years of data. According to Seach, it is now the cleanest data they ever had – allowing the finance department to quote with 100% accuracy.

La Trobe University and SAP are engaged in a long-term commitment to putting a world-class education within reach of more young people from more places, and they continue to explore broader notions of what simplifying higher education should mean.  According to the Times Higher Education annual survey, 97 of the top 100 ranked universities now run SAP software. Further, the SAP University Alliances program continues its commitment to improving lives through education by providing cutting-edge technology to college campuses around the world within a finely calibrated business model.

Today young people face daunting challenges when it comes to being able to attend a university. Likewise, institutions of higher learning face an unparalleled competitive environment along with urgent pressure to contain costs. Therefore, the recent implementation of SAP Simple Finance by La Trobe University served not only to reduce costs and increase efficiency, but also to help attract and retain exceptional students and staff.

Helping “future ready” students and faculty make critical advancements in science through research conducted directly within a rainforest or wildlife sanctuary is one way to do just that- and SAP will continue its determined role in helping young minds discover much needed environmental solutions far into the future.


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