Bridging the gap between information systems and constituent relations
Shannon Parrish’s perspective as a former prospect, undergrad, alumna and admissions officer made her a natural choice for service on both the admissions work group of COMPASS-SIS and the COMPASS-CRM functional team. Parrish provides an important bridge between the two COMPASS components and furnishes valuable input into the experiences of potential students as well as admissions representatives.
In her role as an undergraduate admissions officer for UF over the past four years, Parrish has talked with thousands of students across her territory of Dade County and the Florida Keys. While many have their sights set on UF as their first choice, others in Florida and throughout the country might not necessarily have UF at the top of the list. For the Office of Admissions, both groups constitute potential prospects for the next great incoming class.
Crucial to Parrish and her fellow admissions officers’ work is to determine how UF can interact with and track these prospects effectively. COMPASS-CRM — the new constituent relationship management system planned for initial implementation in September 2016 with the release of undergraduate recruiting and prospect management—is being designed with just this kind of functionality in mind.
Parrish is enthusiastic about the many anticipated benefits of COMPASS-CRM. Currently, UF’s Office of Admissions purchases names of potential prospects from a number of different agencies, including College Board and ACT. Admissions uses these lists for mass communications, such as email blasts to prospects. According to Parrish, individual admissions officers don’t have the ability to segment these prospects by their assigned region, thus losing an opportunity to reach out to them in a more personal way. Likewise, if a high school student signs up for a campus tour, Admissions staff record the name in the current ARMS system, but the Admissions officer assigned to the student’s territory doesn’t receive that information.
“The only way I can see all of my prospects is once they submit an application and we’re ready for the evaluation process,” said Parrish. “I can’t see which prospects from my area have gone on a tour, submitted test scores or attended an event until they submit an application.”
The ability to personally reach out to individual prospects will be especially helpful out of state, where UF wants to increase its enrollment. The customized contact could potentially make a difference in a student’s consideration of UF.
COMPASS-CRM also will integrate with other applications, such as event management and travel management. Parrish noted that, while increasing the number of recruitment events is a goal for UF, it’s also important to ensure events are targeting the right audiences and contributing to the desired application outcomes. Through COMPASS-CRM, Admissions will be able to establish and manage event registration, track event attendance and follow attendees through the application process.
Parrish believes Admissions officers will find a lot to love in the travel management functionality as well. In the future, these UF Admissions staff will be able to estimate driving times and announce their travel schedules on the web. “Being thrown into travel is difficult, so this will be a great tool for Admissions staff,” Parrish said. “I’m passing on my territory now to someone new and I’m doing certain things to make sure the new person has what is needed to handle the region. I’m realizing that much of what I’m doing now will be available in CRM.”
UF staff aren’t the only beneficiaries of these new tools. In a territory as large as Dade County, which has 115 high schools, visiting every school simply isn’t feasible. By broadcasting the travel schedule, the recruitment process becomes more transparent to students, parents and guidance counselors, and underserved populations are less likely to feel left out of the process.
“Travel is one of my favorite parts of admissions,” Parrish noted. It’s a crucial time when students are most receptive to hearing what we have to say so we need to remove as many obstacles as possible to that communication being effective.”
Of course, prospective students probably will never know that COMPASS-CRM is part of UF’s operations. However, its new functionality provides UF with an opportunity to transform a student’s experience with many different units across campus into a more holistic interaction with the university. Shannon Parrish see as this as the real benchmark for COMPASS-CRM’s success.
“A smoother experience for students: that’s ultimately what I’m striving for.”