Student support is a paramount concern at Redeemer University. The Reformed Christian-based school located in Ancaster, Ontario, was founded in 1976 and currently serves 800 students per year. When the school’s 2016 functional analysis determined outdated technology, manual processes, and limited eCommerce capabilities were negatively impacting students’ perceptions and expectations, Redeemer’s leadership acknowledged it was time for a change.

Redeemer students

From the outset of his thorough evaluation of Redeemer’s business, application and technical architectures, Len Moelker, the school’s Director of Information Security, had concrete goals in mind for improving student support. He also had clear constraints. “As a small non-for-profit institution we needed to watch our budget,” Moelker says. He added that because the school had already decided to keep its existing Colleague ERP, any new solutions would have to be compatible. The final across-the-board requirement for any new solutions was that their vendors would act as Redeemer partners and help the school achieve success.

With his goals and restrictions clearly defined, Moelker proceeded to develop a plan that would elevate perception of the school, improve functional access for all stakeholders, and ensure all updates were efficient, accurate, and reliable. The six-phase project that collectively addressed those goals, dubbed Reaching Higher, officially kicked off in October 2018. Both the point of sale (POS) and eCommerce solution phases, which resulted in the implementation of Ellucian OneCard VIP by TouchNet and Ellucian Payment Center by TouchNet, went live in August 2019.

Modernizing outdated POS systems

Kicking off Phase One of Reaching Higher, the school settled on OneCard VIP as its POS solution and contracts were signed in the spring of 2019. OneCard VIP supported the school’s goal of upgrading to a comprehensive platform to conduct payment transactions in the bookstore, at vending machines, or in the dining hall — anywhere commerce takes place.

Thanks to OneCard’s Colleague compatibility, Redeemer was able to add a button enabling students to manage their OneCard accounts via the self-service portal. This same portal would also provide convenient fee payment access feeding directly into Colleague when the school implemented its new eCommerce capabilities in Phase Five.

Following Redeemer’s selection of replacement tools for its portal, internal CMS, and communication in Phases Two and Three of Reaching Higher, the school elected to implement Ellucian’s Student Planning and Ethos in Phase Four.

Thanks to the pre-existing strategic partnership between TouchNet and Ellucian and TouchNet’s status as an Ethos Connected Partner, Redeemer didn’t have to worry about integration issues with its OneCard VIP solution. This phase is scheduled for completion in August 2020.

Breathing life into Redeemer eCommerce

With Phase Four planning completed and execution under way, the Reaching Higher steering committee turned its sights toward improving payment processing. ECommerce wasn’t exactly thriving at the school; outdated apps didn’t talk to each other and often lacked modern automation. Whatever solution the school settled on, it needed to integrate with the other new solutions already in place, be scalable, usher in new efficiencies, and above all, be reliable.

Ellucian Payment Center by TouchNet met all of the project requirements and became the first piece of Redeemer’s Phase Five solution. Launched along with OneCard VIP in August 2019, Payment Center provides real-time student account balances, step-by-step payment processing online, and PayPath — a module that enables Redeemer to recover credit and debit card-related fees. The Payment Center’s proxy function is especially popular among students according to Moelker because it allows them to grant account access to parents or grandparents who can then make direct tuition payments.

Goodbye ineffective silos — hello streamlined integration

“The implementation for Payment Center went very, very smoothly,” Moelker says. “I’ve been in this business thirty-eight years, and believe it or not this is one of the smoothest projects I’ve ever had.” Post implementation, Payment Center’s functionality has also improved ongoing recordkeeping for the finance department thanks to built-in, customizable dashboards. Planning for the second piece of Phase Five, an online store purchasing solution, is still under way.

Redeemer MPOS

With its new POS and eCommerce solutions in place, Redeemer students now enjoy tap and go access to copiers, library materials, the campus grocery and book stores, and the Refresh cafeteria, all of which are connected to DESFire devices with OneCard integration. “Every Wednesday night all 800 of our students share a meal,” Moelker explains. “All these students need to do is walk by and tap their card and they’re allowed into the communal meal. It also decreases their meal plan by one. (Implementing OneCard) has been very successful for us because it lets us move all 800 students in quite a short time,” he says.

OneCard Mobile also represents a Redeemer success. The declining balance app simplifies campus commerce and is used extensively by students and faculty. On the back end, an easy-to-use dashboard makes OneCard management and reporting straightforward and simple.

Reaching even higher

Buoyed by their new solutions’ ease of use and 96 percent acceptance rate among students, the school is already looking at new opportunities to add OneCard payments to vending machines, laundry and athletic facilities, and eventually credential access for school dorms. “We’re very excited about using OneCard as a foundational product,” Moelker says, adding, “We’re also working with TouchNet and Ellucian to build more bridges between Colleague and OneCard. Overall, Reaching Higher has been a great project for us.”