Higher Education

6 steps to Success for Implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Solution in Higher Education

With increasing competition there is an even greater need to ensure that your customers (prospective students) are engaged in the right way.  Higher Education Institutions are implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to make sure they fully understand the needs of their prospective students and are able to provide a personalised approach to recruitment.  This in turn should increase student conversion rates and improve market perception of the Higher Education Institution.

The project journey to implementing a student recruitment CRM solution requires investment in terms of time and resource, not just from your Supplier but also from your own team & should never be underestimated. At ISL our projects are delivered in a partnership approach meaning that we work together with our customers to both meet their needs and improve our product.

Below are 6 ways you can make the process as smooth and efficient, as possible!

1) Understand the project scope

Scope management is key to completing a successful implementation for Higher Education Institutions, not just in terms of having it clear in your own mind but making sure that members of your own team as well as your suppliers are all on the same page. At ISL our experience tells us that this can be something as simple as a list of items marked in or out of scope that can be agreed & signed off by stakeholders from both parties to make it clear exactly what will be delivered in a particular phase of a project. That’s not to say this can’t be adapted as through a project cycle scope can change, it just needs to be carefully managed to avoid scope creep.

2) Talk to your supplier

At the start of your project it is important to nominate an individual to be the key contact to act as the Project Manager (PM), if at any point in the project process you have any issues, risks or general feedback your nominated PM should get in contact with your supplier straight away, the sooner it is reported the sooner it can be dealt with. It makes it much easier to have a clear communication & escalation process agreed in advance with your supplier to ensure that key stakeholders are always informed, this is particularly useful during any periods of sickness or annual leave. We’ve found it helpful to set up regular project calls with our customers, usually weekly or monthly, to keep communications flowing and keeping to our partnership based approach. One final thing that can really help move the project along is keeping up-to-date with any information requests or document sign offs from your supplier, as design or build work might not be able to begin without it, this may then potentially have a knock on effect and delay your whole project.

3) Make sure you communicate

As important as it is to communicate with your supplier, it’s equally important to communicate within your own project team, internally at ISL we have short “SCRUM” meetings that make sure everyone is kept in the loop.  For example, each week on a Monday we have a companywide general SCRUM working through each project, which keeps people up to date with highlights on projects they might not be working directly on. Throughout the week we then have smaller, more specific SCRUMS on particular projects which are more specific and detailed. We’ve found this meeting format really helpful, particularly at key points in the project such as around Go Live as it keeps everyone on the same track and ensures we are all working towards the same goal.

4) Does everyone know what they are doing?

If the first someone on your team hears about their involvement in project coming up is meeting requests popping up in their diary they are unlikely to understand or appreciate what the long term goals are, it’s important to set everyone off on the same page. At ISL we’ve found an easy way to do this is at the start of a project we have an “Internal Kick Off meeting” with representatives from different teams across the business for example Sales, Projects, Consultancy & Configuration, this ensures that everyone is briefed on the aims from the very beginning and understands their particular role & responsibilities. Later on in the project it is important that any individuals who attend meetings or training are briefed on why they are attending, any objectives & any outcomes expected. Aside from that careful diary management & planning of logistical details (e.g. room bookings or conference call details) gives your team the best possible start to a project.

5) Know what the finished solution should look like

It can be helpful to think about implementing your solution in terms of “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) i.e. what’s absolutely necessary to get a project off the ground and what’s more desirable that can wait till later. An easy way to picture this is thinking about travelling from A to B, your MVP phase 1 might be a skateboard, phase 2 could be a bike, phase 3 a car. Our experience has shown that this is a much more efficient way of working that can get your system live much quicker than trying to get in all the bells & whistles from the start.

6) Measure your success

If you are a University reading this at the very start of your search for a new CRM solution then you might think you are a long way from measuring how successful the implementation has been, but the start of the process is actually a really good time to start considering this. To reflect the objectives from your implementation you can pick a few Return on Investment markers and measure them before & after to see how much of an improvement the new system has made; the key here is to make sure they are measurable! Something like “faster open day check in” is not easy to quantify but “speed up checking in process at open day by X%” is. If you agree these in advance with your supplier then it again gives all parties an awareness of the project purpose, something that can be kept in mind throughout design, build & beyond.