College Planning & Management

JUN 2013

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emerging technology b y d av i d w. d o d d cRM Systems the yeaR of the StUdent RecRUitMent SySteM. 2 013 is the year of the student recruitment system/student customer relationship management (CRM) system. That won't appear on calendars, and it wasn't even planned that way. Nevertheless, for a number of reasons events syzygetically aligned themselves so as to make 2013 the year that institutions would be seeking new systems to support recruitment, academic success, and retention. When College Board abruptly announced the sunset of its widely used product, Recruitment Plus, over two years ago, it precipitated a number of things. First, the numerous institutions that had long relied on this system were caught off guard and began to look for its replacement. Also, the market niche for such systems became immediately more favorable to competitors. Not surprisingly, the last two years have seen extraordinary activity in this area. Student CRM systems are very specialized systems that leverage the power of technology to support the prospecting, recruitment, admission, operational planning, events management, communications/marketing, and business intelligence/analytics needs of student recruitment operations. But CRM systems have also moved into the area of student retention by helping to monitor the academic progress of students and to notify faculty and student support personnel when students show signs that they are encountering problems. Because of this, student CRMs have become very important to the student lifecycle: recruitment, academic support, and persistence to graduation. The activities supported by student CRM systems are not only vital in helping achieve our mission of educating students, these activities are also central to institutions' fnancial health. Finding truly effective systems that can have maximum impact on these highly specialized activities is another issue. Institutions also have other types of relationships that need to be developed and maintained including alumni, boards, and corporate partners, to name only a few. A number of schools have sought to identify single CRM solutions that could effectively meet all CRM needs across the institution. But as widely noted by industry analysts, these one-size-fts-all systems are still immature. Going for a forced-ft may well mean that institutions will compromise on quality and maximum impact concerning students. Similarly, institutions that attempt to produce a single-solution system to meet all these needs will need to have a signifcant depth of resources they can dedicate to this effort. It is likely that student CRMs will evolve to include closely related activities such as fnancial aid, residence life, and student affairs. But a key determinant of success for student CRMs is and will continue to be their interoperability with other systems — primarily the student information system. While we may ultimately see more robust systems that incorporate a number of these functions, this evolution will almost certainly occur relatively slowly, rather than through rapid disruption. College Board is deactivating Recruitment Plus on October 31, 2013, and institutions will need to have selected and deployed their replacement systems by that time. The student recruitment cycle is also deeply tied to systems projects, which means that most institutions are seeking to have new systems in place by summer 2013. Not surprisingly, intensity among vendors and institutions is at a very high level. A number of candidate systems are available from which to choose. Rapid system development, coupled with large-scale consolidations, mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships, can make this a target-rich environment for buyers, but also one that can be very challenging to navigate. Larger ERP vendors including Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Ellucian have solutions available that may be especially attractive to institutions that are already utilizing other administrative systems from these respective suites of products. Smaller ERP vendors including Campus Management and Jenzabar also have well-regarded products that tie to these product suites. Dedicated solutions from non-ERP providers are also widely available. For example, Slate has received good reviews. Hobson's is an established provider that began with student retention and now has popular solutions in student recruitment as well. Enrollment Rx is another. Even for institutions that are not completing a migration from Recruitment Plus, the benefts of a system that can provide strong support for students across the student lifecycle is incentivizing many institutions to seek effective solutions and systems. CPM David W. Dodd is vice president of Information Technology and CIO at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He can be reached at 201/216-5491 or david.dodd@stevens.edu. 50 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / JUNE 2013 www.PLANNING 4EduCATION.COM

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