Choosing the right student recruitment CRM system

Choosing the right student recruitment CRM system

Choosing the right student recruitment CRM system is a key decision and will impact on many other elements of your recruitment and marketing activities.

Good software should make things easier for you and put essential data at your fingertips, but too often this is a source of frustration and expense. The right student recruitment CRM software can allow you to track enquiries – including prospectus requests, course and open days and can help many departments such as marketing and student recruitment operative more smartly and effectively.

There are lots of products available and they come in a myriad of configurations and technologies, so how do you choose the right one? Knowing where to start can be difficult, so I’ve put together the checklist below based on my experiences with a number of leading UK universities…these should give you a good idea of which solution is right for you;


1. Why? What are the reasons for getting new software? What function is the software going to fulfil? Why do you need it? What can’t you do now that you want to do in the future? Are you tracking enquiries, applications, replacing your student management system?

It is important to define upfront the key reasons why you are searching for new software, don’t get waylaid and get distracted by “nice to haves”. It’s useful to create lists of Needs and Wants. The Needs list should be relatively short and consist of features absolutely necessary. The Wants list can be much broader. It is useful to list these in priority order.

2. Budget. Work out how much you can spend. Be aware – you need to factor in first year implementation, support, licenses and hardware costs. The initial cost of the software is one thing but how much you’ll spend each year is important as well as how expensive any changes to the system might be.

3. Draw up a short list. Once you have your needs, wants and budget defined you can start to draw up a short list based on features and price. Much of this can be gathered by visiting the websites of different software suppliers. Quickly establishing whether there is a basic fit is usually a quick and pain free process. If the budget is fixed then get an idea from the supplier how much a typical implementation costs. This can save time as there is no point in engaging if the price difference is too high.

4. Evaluate. Which packages offer the most features from your wants list? Can you start with a relatively small implementation and then grow it from there? What product enhancements are planned? Are there features that will be useful to you and how quickly will they become available? Is it key that the new system integrates with particular systems you already have in place? All of this can help you create your short list.

5. Internal Input. It’s important to involve the people who are going to ultimately be using the software. They are often the best resource in making decisions. If you want marketing to use the system, get their input. Users are much more likely to accept and embrace a new system if they have had input into the decision making process.

6. Select the finalists. Based on your needs and wants, you can cross reference these with the functionality of the software to decide which is best for you and your organisation. This is a great test to see which products are going to be a good fit. You can rule out suppliers this way and narrow down to 2 or 3 products. You can review the information that you received from the vendors and the implementation service provider to ensure that the products you are purchasing dovetail with the services you have planned. This will ensure that there are no gaps once you get to the implementation stage and will give you a chance to finalise your upfront costs as well as project your ongoing costs for training, support and maintenance on a yearly basis.

7. Timelines. Be realistic with your timelines and expectations. Plan your implementation carefully to avoid your peak busy times and to allow for system redundancy to ensure that none of your data is lost during the transition period. If you are going to be managing open days in the new student recruitment CRM system, perhaps aim to go-live in advance of an open day so that you can manage the whole process in the new system.


Depending on what the software is going to do, it is a big decision implementing a new system. Go through these steps carefully and never lose sight of why you’re doing this in the first place. Don’t get too distracted by nice to haves, stick to what you really need in Phase 1 and the implementation process should go smoothly.


For information on AES (Achiever Education Software) Student Recruitment CRM and how it helps leading UK universities build big brands, deliver targeted marketing and gain clear student insights, please visit the following link, click here.