B2B Payments

Taking Procurement Back to School

Higher education procurement is a multibillion-dollar enterprise, with tens of thousands of dollars spent annually to keep an institution running. As universities are faced with the challenges of quickly adapting to a fast-moving higher education ecosystem, industry solutions have emerged to help universities keep up with payment, information and operations management.

The higher education ecosystem is actually a set of many mini ecosystems that are tenuously connected by constantly interacting. Building management, human resources, financial systems, research grants, alumni networks, athletics – the list could go on, but the baseline is that all of these systems need to share information with one another, but few institutions have a developed architecture that connects them. This is the space where firms like Oracle and Higher One have emerged to handle operations and payment management.


Oracle’s PeopleSoft Campus Solutions is in use in over 900 universities and colleges, the platform supports integrations for financial management, warehouse management, identity and access management, CRM and human capital management which in turns makes it the central hub of the IT landscape. With the technology, universities have the ability to view all their costs and once and create custom structures to best manage the demands that they face from students, facility and the government.


Mark Armstrong, vice president, higher education product development at Oracle explains, “today’s higher education institutions – from traditional research institutions to non-traditional continuing education programs – have unique challenges but a shared focus on operational excellence and student success”.


Automation also lowers costs, which is particularly important American colleges and universities facing higher demands with less available funding. In the current environment, higher education procurement requirements have been revamped, and can create massive institutional hurdles without a technology-enabled solution for management.


Ralph Maier, Director of Purchasing Services at the University of Pennsylvania, notes, “using Oracle Advanced Procurement and Oracle Financials has enabled us to transform the purchasing department to a value-added organization, resulting in over $74 million in documented cost savings”.


Apart from streamlining operations to save cost, higher education facilities also must find a way to manage a payments environment where it can seem like money is always flying around rapidly and randomly.  At any given time a unit can be looking to make payments to one department, take payments from another, pay suppliers, accept grant funding and collect payments from students for tuition and other expenses.

To manage many non-synchronized payments, Universities need extensive “procedure-to-pay” (P2P) processes and teams in place to conduct procurement.


Higher One offers a host of payment, refund disbursement, and data analytics and management tools for universities including, an accounts payable platform. To assist with simplifying accounts payable, Higher One teamed with WEX Bank and Boost Payment Solutions to streamline the higher education accounts payable disbursement process.


The Higher One payable disbursement process reduces the use of checks, offers increased security of vendor account data and provides faster payment options for the vendors and suppliers. The process is outlined in the graphic below.


Managing Procuremnet and Innovating for the Global Campus image April 22 2014



Providing disbursement services to over 600 campuses across the country, Higher One helps instructions cut down on time and costs involved in issuing paper checks and allows the business office to focus more on their customer, the student.


Higher One was a member of Oracle PartnerNetwork and announced in March of 2014 that they achieved Oracle Validated Integration of Higher One Disbursement Services.


“This proven integration will help assure institutions that they can rely on the efficient processing of refunds, allotting more time for administrative resources,” said Casey McGuane, chief operating officer at Higher One. “It also supports a repeatable process semester after semester, 24/7 support and the assurance that PCI compliance and security standards are met”.


Going forward, universities are going to see opportunities to increase process efficiencies, provide new and enhanced training and support tools for system users, maximize strategic supplier relationships, and identify new cost containment opportunities and management and payments system will adapt to fit the changes of the sector.






Banks, corporates and even regulators now recognize the imperative to modernize — not just digitize —the infrastructures and workflows that move money and data between businesses domestically and cross-border.

Together with Visa, PYMNTS invites you to a month-long series of livestreamed programs on these issues as they reshape B2B payments. Masters of modernization share insights and answer questions during a mix of intimate fireside chats and vibrant virtual roundtables.

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