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Singapore Management University

Singapore Management University Joins International Peers in Adopting Drupal, Acquia for Continuous Innovation

University Establishes Mobile-Ready Experience Platform with Drupal

Singapore Management University sought a new digital content and marketing platform to carry it into the future. By selecting Drupal and working with Acquia, the university empowered its content managers to take ownership of their area of expertise, while giving visibility into admissions and marketing campaigns. By moving to open source, the university anticipates a far lower total cost of ownership during the lifespan of its investment.

The Problem

When the Web and Media Integrated IT team at Singapore Management University embarked upon a review of the university’s aging Autonomy Interwoven web content management system that it purchased eight years prior, it assigned both the marketing and technology teams to build a business case for a new strategic content management system to ensure strong user uptake and technical fit. The marketing team owns the requirements for usability, design, and campaign activities, while the IT team handles support, integration, and development. The university’s public websites are critical for engaging scholars and recruiting new students, and revolves around information about the university’s academic programmes and research, for prospective students, researchers, and faculty.

With so much content to be organised from more than 30 faculties and administrative functions, the web team made the recommendation that the Drupal open source content management system had the scale and flexibility to serve as the school’s digital experience platform. Its selection was made after reviewing other institutions that had adopted Drupal with great success, including Stanford University and Saïd Business School, among others.

This was the university’s first move to open source, so it sought a partner that could provide strong Drupal support and expertise. Acquia, which provides an open cloud platform, developer and operations tools, and enterprise-class support for Drupal, came strongly recommended by its local Drupal development partner, Pixel Onion.

How they did it

Singapore Management University moved its Drupal site to Acquia Cloud, hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Centre in Singapore. Acquia’s open cloud platform delivers scalability, security, and high performance for Drupal sites, from professional developers to large enterprises. Offering a variety of SaaS solutions specifically designed for Drupal, Acquia helps global organisations rapidly deploy and manage multichannel content across web and mobile devices.

The team’s decision to roll-out a responsive design for its web properties to ensure an optimum experience across devices was undertaken late in the development project but with great success and feedback.

The results

Moving eight years of content to a new system was never going to be an easy task. Dr. Wee-Sen Goh, Associate Director of Web and Media Technologies, designated that his main measurement of the success was how many happy users he had.

“In addition to our IT and marketing team, we have around 50 distributed content contributors across all departments and schools who have responsibility for maintaining around 30 microsites,” Goh said. “Moving the content over was remarkably straightforward, which helped us gain strong buy-in. They’re now easily able to update text and links on the fly, which gives them ownership of their area of expertise. It also means more engagement because they can see how changes online correlate to campaigns they’re running, for example, in the admissions department.”

Singapore Management University also forecasts that its total cost of ownership will decrease dramatically with the move to Acquia and Drupal. Goh estimates that the total cost of ownership for the university’s Drupal implementation will be a quarter of its commercial system, which he estimates cost SG $500,000 (approximately US $400,000).

“We’ve improved our service to the university community with a mobile-ready digital experience platform,” Goh said. “As our website evolves, the continuous innovation of the global Drupal community is a strong competitive advantage.”

A strong collaboration between marketing and IT contributed to the project’s smooth success, and Goh emphasised how important it is to get buy-in from multiple user teams right from the beginning to make the transition easy and uptake high.

With the global education sector moving overwhelmingly toward open source, we looked to the Drupal content management system for its scale and flexibility in customisation, and naturally, we chose Acquia for enterprise-level support and strategy to enable our ongoing digital strategy. We’ve already made significant cost savings, and we’ll see that multiply as time goes on.
Dr. Wee-Sen Goh
Associate Director, Web and Media Technologies, Integrated IT Services, Singapore Management University

Company Information

Singapore Management University
8,000 students
1,100 academic and support staff
Drupal user since 2012
Acquia client since 2012