In addition to CRM systems, there are systems specific to recruitment, and to housing current student records. Sometimes there is overlap between CRMs and recruitment functionality. Many companies make software for both.
Systems for Recruitment
In the effort to recruit and admit the right learners for the institution, many colleges and universities have started leveraging consumer data, and more business-esque technologies. This blog from a Salesforce implementation company focuses on a specific type of system for recruitment – Paradot. Read this article, or if the link is moved, check out this backup copy.
Watch this video on how that happens from a “macro” perspective. Note that this is not specific to online learners.
This segment from an industry collection of “top CRM” products for recruitment, application and customer tracking concisely states the purpose and advantages of these types of products:
“While many people don’t tend to think of higher education institutions as businesses, they face many of the same information management challenges that major companies face on a daily basis. It is just as important for schools to be able to provide targeted communications to potential students so that they can effectively be moved through the recruitment, application and enrollment process. Even the taking the steps to streamline communication throughout the application process can result in more applicants, which inevitably means a better talent pool. Investing in the right CRM software for higher education can allow to you to meet specific goals and identify additional areas for improvement” (Blitchok, 2017, para. 26).
Are you looking for other examples of recruitment and application systems? Go ahead and check out their blog, which illustrates some common examples and their advantages.
Systems for Tracking Student Information (System of Record)
An SIS, or Student Information System, is a critical part of this equation. There are a variety of SISs on the market, but here are some of the major ones:
- Banner by Ellucian
- Colleague (also by Ellucian) billed as an ERP (sometimes these terms are overlapping – find some clarification definitions here – but you don’t need to know this much detail.)
- PeopleSoft by Oracle
- Workday SIS
- Jenzebar SIS
You don’t need to become an expert on SISs, but you should know some of the major names. You can also Google terms like ERP, CRM, LRM in combination with “college” or “student” and get some other, smaller options that are out there.
Many of the SISs (just like the LMSs) that dominate the marketplace are older, or more legacy technologies. Sometimes these are the most stable. It is often challenging for an institution to extricate itself from one system to find a different one, simply because of the pain involved in going through the transfer of information and the necessary updates to workflow, processes and procedures.
SISs are far less powerful when used in isolation. To gain insights from them, institutions need to integrate data from the SISs with other systems, including the Learning Management System (LMS). Combining customer data (recruitment software) with the customer experience (CRM) with official “record” information (SIS/ERP) with information from the actual learning environments (LSM) enables institutions to target the right potential learners, enroll and retain them, support a customer service experience, and have insight into what learners are doing in the virtual environment to keep them engaged and learning. There are a whole host of plugins or additional modular software components that can be added on to any of these types of systems for additional functionality. For example, Blackboard Collaborate, a synchronous webconferencing tool, can be selected by colleges, but isn’t part of the base “Blackboard Learn” product.
Interoperability is hard, which is why IMS Global – a nonprofit consortium – has been working to create stable open standards (learn more about that here) so that all manner of companies and institutions can create more “plug and play” environments.
Data Storage “Places”
Data is collected from these disparate systems and integrated. In support of this, many institutions are moving to data warehouses or data lakes. This video describes what a basic data warehouse involves.
The data integrated into a data warehouse can originate in many places, as illustrated in The Analytics Landscape, 2015 from EDUCAUSE, Figure 6, page 14.
This page from that same 2015 ECAR analysis provides a brief overview of current status for across institutions of higher ed. It was the most recent update available as of 2018.