The Faculty of Organisation and Informatics (FOI) in Croatia wanted to show students in its graduate programme how enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is used in industry. The Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance (DynAA) offered Microsoft
Dynamics NAV software and support, and recommended IT firm RECRO-NET. Students now graduate with knowledge of the software that employers increasingly use, significantly improving their career prospects.
The University of Zagreb in Croatia is the oldest university in south-eastern Europe. It comprises 29 faculties—serving more than 50,000 full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students—including the highly regarded FOI.
The faculty wanted to customise its graduate computer sciences curriculum to meet the needs of local employers, which were increasingly looking for graduate recruits with expertise in business management software. In 2008, Ruben Picek, Assistant Professor,
Faculty of Organisation and Informatics, University of Zagreb, started looking at how to give his students hands-on knowledge of ERP systems, helping them acquire the skills required by local employers.
He says: “We wanted our students to look at ERP systems from different perspectives—as senior managers, employees, consultants, project team members, and IT developers. The faculty needed a two-year course that would take the entrants from being students
to ERP specialists.”
The faculty began looking for a partner to help design the practical course content. Picek wanted the partner to provide real-life case studies and controllable results so the university could award grades according to levels of attainment in practical and
theoretical assignments. In addition—anticipating increased demand for the course—he needed the business management software provided as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), running in the cloud as well as in a physical environment.
The FOI approached the DynAA, which offers universities free Microsoft Dynamics software, support, and training courses with Microsoft Croatia at the local Microsoft Innovation Centre—through which they also gain access to Microsoft and its partners. Picek
says: “The first step was visiting the DynAA Academic Preconference at the Microsoft Convergence event to hear about best practices worldwide.”
Microsoft Croatia then organised a Microsoft Dynamics NAV technical academy and invited Picek to obtain certification and examine the product’s functionality in detail.
It also put Picek in touch with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner RECRO-NET, which offers comprehensive information and communications technology solutions for large and medium-sized information systems.
Milan Komorčec, Senior Consultant at RECRO-NET, says: “Our focus was to help cement the strategic alliance between DynAA and the university, and to recruit graduates. Specifically, we’re supporting the university by preparing every-day business tasks in
Microsoft Dynamics NAV in each functional area of the course. This helps students build on their understanding of basic concepts and theory.”
During the course, students were divided into groups of 15, becoming employees of a virtual company. All students had their own Microsoft Dynamics NAV software and learnt to use it through the Microsoft Sure Step Methodology, submitting projects assignments
RECRO-NET supported curriculum delivery, with guest lectures to supplement teaching and learning. And Microsoft helped put on three-day training sessions—at its Innovation Centre in Varaždin—for students after they completed their examinations. These sessions
feature trainers from the largest local Microsoft Dynamics partners in Croatia, opening up more opportunities for students to gain employment. Students with the best performance in these training sessions successfully pass the certification examination.
The FOI at the University of Zagreb now has wide-ranging support from Microsoft and an experienced local partner to support its teaching programme for computer science students. Three graduates have already been given work experience at RECRO-NET, one of
whom has a permanent job. In July 2011, another student successfully applied for a job at another partner organisation. The course has proved popular, with 212 students enrolling in the first two years.
Employers benefit from the DynAA by gaining skilled recruits.
Picek says: “Microsoft partners are not the only organisations that want to recruit graduates with hands-on skills in business management software. The increased interest from our students and employers shows the importance of learning through real business
processes and case studies in Microsoft Dynamics NAV.”
Students gain certificates for ERP specialisations. As well as getting their degree certificates from the university, students can also qualify for Microsoft certificates for different segments of ERP systems, making them even more attractive
to potential employers. The additional workshops focus on preparation for official Microsoft Dynamics NAV certification examinations.
Infrastructure as a service helps reduce operating costs. By using cloud computing in its own University Computing Centre, it got even better performance from the software and catered easily for a larger number of students. The cloud solution
and reusable content will help the university keep costs low because the solution works from university IP addresses.
University seeks further academic collaboration with Microsoft. In the future, the university hopes to engage with Microsoft and RECRO-NET in providing more content for its advanced post-graduate courses.
Technology integrates with other line-of-business applications. Microsoft Dynamics NAV integrates easily with the faculty’s open-source learning environment Moodle, where all the PDF and video materials used in the ERP case
studies are stored.
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.