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Used by more than five hundred institutions around the globe, the CAUDIT Higher Education Reference Models (HERM) are a standard set of business and data architectures relevant to higher education. Institutions can use these resources as a touchstone to increase the value and efficiency of their operations and as a tool to engage key stakeholders. The first version of the HERM models was launched in 2016 and has since evolved after a collaboration between the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT), UCISA, EDUCAUSE, and European University Information Systems (EUNIS), which adopted and endorsed the global standard in 2021.

One of the HERM models, the Business Capability Model (BCM), is a comprehensive framework for planning and managing adaptive business capabilities in a highly dynamic world. Institutions can use this resource as a reference for business stakeholders, enterprise architects, and technology strategists to engage in informed discussions regarding business effectiveness, needs, and challenges. More specifically, the BCM serves as an anchor for assessing perspectives such as strategic importance, maturity, business operational pain points, capital investment, and organizational structure.

Creating a Common Language
Along with using enterprise storytelling to engage effectively with stakeholders, referencing the HERM models allows institutions to foster a holistic understanding of their organization and gain valuable insight into how they can guide operational and strategic planning. This closer look helps stakeholders to invest in the capabilities that will deliver the most important business outcomes and connect these business objectives to the information and technology necessary to support them. “In the past, organizations didn’t have a common language that identified the capabilities that were required to manageably achieve their business outcomes,” explains Dan Miller, Associate Vice President, EdgeMarket. “Oftentimes, we would have to speak in the language of vendors, which apart from a few standard terms, was vastly different. Now, the promise of a business capabilities model out of the HERM provides a well-developed taxonomy and lexicon that institutions can use as a roadmap to help align their business needs and IT strategies and architectures.”

Adopting these models also supports the exchange of architectural knowledge and best practices throughout the higher education community. “As more members of the consortium map themselves to this framework, we create a common language within the community,” continues Miller. “This agreed upon body of terms and definitions helps accelerate our understanding of member needs, enhance the ability of each institution to prioritize their investments and support interoperability and collaboration between member organizations.”

Adopting the BCM
Seeing the value of the BCM and how these practices could help member institutions succeed in managing their business capabilities, Edge is currently working on adopting this model and will help members of the consortium to understand its uses and benefits. Chris Markham, Edge’s Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, added, “We encourage institutions to explore the BCM and we will be offering educational opportunities to learn more about applying these standards to create a customized roadmap. Edge plans to explore new and extended services and use this model to plan procurements and categorize and evaluate our solutions and vendors in EdgeMarket. I believe the sky’s the limit with what we can accomplish by creating a common language within the higher education community. Much like institutions are cataloging and managing their curriculums to support business goals and serve the needs of their students and faculty, the BCM can empower organizations to apply the same approach to business management. By using the BCM as a tool, institutions can more accurately identify the overarching needs of their organization and better strategize IT solutions that will bring their short- and long-term goals to fruition.”

Learn more about the Higher Education Reference Models and how they provide standardized business and data architectures by visiting