Technology Means Nothing Unless It Leads to Success: 5 Ways to Get the Most out of Your CRM Investment

Technology Means Nothing Unless It Leads to Success: 5 Ways to Get the Most out of Your CRM Investment

By Mark Jones on Thursday, August 7, 2014

As public funding for higher education continues to dwindle, college admissions officers are feeling the heat. Because most state funding formulas are tied to enrollments, it’s important to keep classrooms full. Empty seats amount to missed opportunities and fewer resources for colleges.

Thanks to increased competition, getting students through those doors — and keeping them in classrooms — is tougher than ever.

That’s why more colleges are exploring the potential of constituent relationship management (CRM) systems. The motivation is simple: Harness the power of technology to identify prospective students who are a good fit for the college; make a memorable connection that leads to enrollment; and establish lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that will endure long after graduation.

But like any campuswide technology purchase, the path to successful CRM integration takes time, careful planning and more than a little strategic thinking. Looking to get the most out of your CRM investment? Here are five tips to ensure success.

  1. Start with the end in mind.
    Technology is a tool. It doesn’t achieve anything on its own. That’s why colleges need to plan ahead. Develop a clear road map for what you want to accomplish with your investment, set a goal, and use the technology as the vehicle to help you get there. Spend some time evaluating your current business processes, and think about how they might improve. Remember: Don’t put those keys in the ignition until you have a clear destination in mind.
  2. Break down silos.
    Admissions processes are complicated. Bringing on new students requires admissions officials to gather input from every corner of the college, from recruiting to academics to student aid to housing. Getting all of those voices in sync and on the same page is hard to do. Use the technology to align goals and priorities across the institution. Hold training sessions early and often to ensure that everybody who touches the system knows what to do. The more the different elements of your college can agree to work together, the better the results.
  3. Keep talking.
    Fear is unavoidable. Change will always create its share of unease in the ranks. Maintaining an open and honest dialogue with employees and constituents is the best way to address these concerns. Hold regular meetings, and offer persistent updates about the process. Be as transparent as possible. And reach out to people individually, so that those impacted by the change understand how it affects them on a personal level. And perhaps most important, make sure people know where to go for help.
  4. Don’t boil the ocean (start with the basics).
    Large technology integrations are intimidating; that’s why it’s important to start small. Break up the early part of your planning-integration process into manageable chunks. Give your team time to get comfortable with the technology, and build out from there.
  5. Celebrate your success.
    Remember: It’s okay to pat yourself and your team on the back. You develop performance indicators and project milestones for a reason. Every step you take in the right direction gets you closer to your ultimate goal, but there are plenty of wins along the road to success. Take some time to step back and recognize your achievements and those of your team.

Want more ideas for achieving success with your latest CRM? Don’t miss our full white paper Enrollment Management and System Implementation: Five Ways to Ensure Success

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