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Building a campus card

Creating an ID program from the ground up

Zack Martin   ||   Mar 16, 2011  ||   , , , ,

Launching a brand new campus card program isn’t as easy as signing a contract and cutting a check. There are many steps a schools needs to go through before they even choose a vendor.

CR80News asked questions to campus card vendors asking what a school would have to do if starting a campus card program from scratch. The questions ranged from how much an existing IT infrastructure impacts system selection, to what needs to be budgeted beyond the vendor contract amount to upgrade existing networks and how a campus card office should be staffed.

Vendors were hesitant to talk dollar figures for a new system as costs can go beyond the contract with the campus card vendor. Software and IT networks may have to be upgraded, an expenditure that could potentially be more than the contract with the campus card vendor depending on the size and scope of the project.

But at the same time an institution can reap rewards. Significant cost savings and even new revenue streams are attainable. “We review with them areas where they can make money back and do an ROI based on the scope of the project,” says Fred Emery, vice president and general manager at Heartland Campus Solutions.

And then there are the very real benefits–such as increased security–that are difficult to quantify. “Can you put a price on the security of students,” asks Emery. “Just having a safe environment is a prime driver for educational institutions and it’s hard to do an ROI on that.”

Systems also automate previously manual tasks, says Read Winkelman, vice president of sales at the CBORD Group. “There are many soft costs in a manual operation that may not be so evident,” he says, “so a true (cost) comparison may be difficult.”

But there are other items to take into account when it comes to cost, Winkelman says. “There are key indicators that can be used to benchmark the cost over time–deposits on hand, increase in meal plan sign ups, reduction of lost keys,” he says. “Taken with the hard costs of hardware, software, implementation and staffing, it is possible to determine the cost, or benefit, of a campus card system.”

In the beginning …

Before even looking for vendors a university should figure out what they want the ID card to do and then take stock of the different systems that could be impacted by those applications, says Tom Bell, vice president of industry relations at Blackboard.

Point-of sale systems in the dining halls and book stores, print and copy services, student information systems, personnel systems and physical access control systems are just a few of systems that could be impacted with a campus card.

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