Streamlining University Recruitment with Integrated Technology
- By Bridget McCrea
The University of San Diego is seeing increased success with its recruitment programs. Thanks to an effort to replace disparate administrative systems with a single, unified solution, the university is making its enrollment goals and seeing additional benefits as well.
The 7,000-student, single-campus university had been using two different systems to handle its recruiting and admissions, including a CRM solution for human resources, admissions, and finance and a different product for graduate admissions.
"We had several systems working independently of each other," noted Stephen Pultz, director of admissions. "Our goal was to bring everything together into a single, integrated solution."
After deciding on the Banner Recruiting & Admissions Relationships from SunGard Higher Education, the school considered integrating the new addition with its existing Oracle CRM. Steffanie Hoie, manager, Banner Student Systems for USD, said a demonstration changed her team's mind.
"We saw right away that the product was geared to higher education, where our existing CRM piece was more business-oriented," recalled Hoie. "That really appealed to us, and it's why we moved forward in acquiring the product and becoming an early adopter."
In place since September 2008, the solution comprises a student system, an enrollment management module, a document imaging and management function, and a portal that manages all of USD's undergraduate and graduate admissions functions.
"Those four modules are integrated into all of our graduate and undergraduate admissions processes," said Hoie, "from the handling of applications to the decisions, and from the communications straight on through to enrollment and registering."
Banner Recruiting & Admissions Relationships is part of the Banner Enrollment Management Suite for technology-assisted recruiting and admissions, retention, and alumni relations solutions. Banner Enrollment Management addresses the interrelated phases of planning, executing and measuring an institution's enrollment management efforts by capturing and connecting relevant recruiting, retention, and advancement information in one place.
USD's first significant use of the Banner solution involved the school's annual open house. Typically, the university would invite about 15,000 prospects within a limited geographic area to attend the event. Invitees received one invitation, and the admissions staff would diligently--and manually--track responses.
After implementing the new solution, the institution expanded its reach to 56,000 qualified prospective students and automatically tracked their responses. USD set up a multi-channel, multi-stage communications campaign that included direct mail and e-mail, with automatic confirmations, reminders, and thank you notes sent via e-mail. All interactions and responses were automatically tracked via the new system.
While successful, the exercise, Hoie said, helped the college pinpoint a few technology issues that have since been fixed. "New people couldn't move into the campaign, and we ran into some date-related issues with the server that the solution was running on," Hoie explained. "Overall, however, it was nice to be able to set up a campaign and have a solution in place that can handle all of the activities related to that campaign."
On the recruiting and admissions side, the solution has streamlined the university's recruiting campaigns, allowing USD to increase the number of contacts made with prospects, automate invitations and responses for events, and provide better followup with event attendees. As a result, applications increased by 4 percent, and USD experienced a higher yield of enrolled to admitted students.
"The Banner solution has helped us achieve our enrollment goals by enabling much more personal communication with students throughout the entire admissions cycle," Pultz said. The system has also helped USD handle a high volume of inquiries via an automated process that doesn't tax the university's IT or administrative teams.
"This solution has allowed staff to go about their day-to-day work in a much more efficient manner, and it's also user-friendly," said Pultz, who recalled the days when prospective students had to deal with multiple systems and IT support staff to work through issues. "Having a single, integrated system allows that same student to move through the process in a much more streamlined fashion."
As USD's IT team continues to learn the ins and outs of using its new technological tool, it already has its sights set on employing it as a communication and management system for different areas of the university.
"When we get requests from other departments about the challenges they're facing, we'll look to the Banner solution as a way to solve those issues," said Hoie, who will soon be working with university relations to implement the solution for use in fundraising and related activities. USD's summer school students will also be able to utilize it this year, followed by graduate students in the near future. "It's been a great single solution for us," said Hoie, "and one that we plan to maximize."
Bridget McCrea is a business and technology writer in Clearwater, FL. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.