CRM Comes to Campus at a Frantic Pace: Colleges and Universities Are Starting to Use CRM Solutions to Manage Relationships with Students at Every Stage

Article excerpt

Prompted by increased competition, colleges, universities, and business schools are looking to manage relationships with key constituent groups, such as prospective and matriculated students, alumni, and businesses, more effectively.

Recognizing the value of developing deeper relationships with prospective students, admissions offices were early adopters of CRM technology. Then alumni affairs and advancement offices took to CRM systems to strengthen relationships with alumni and donors. But CRM systems were still very limited on most campuses.

Today, many institutions have finally started moving forward with CRM implementations, either for the first time or to expand existing installations beyond the admissions and advancement offices to include areas such as student retention and external relations.

"There's lots of interest, lots of buying, and lots of RFPs flying out the doors to buy CRM systems," says Tim Copeland, CEO of DemandEngine, an enrollment, CRM, and marketing consulting services company helping colleges and universities plan and execute marketing strategies and nurture student relationships. "There's a buying frenzy going on right now" in the higher education segment.

James Wong, CEO of Avidian Technologies, a CRM systems vendor that counts many colleges and universities among its clients, agrees. "Schools are waking up and realizing that they can't wait for their IT departments to come in and manage their lists for donors," he says. "It's very early in the adoption phase, but these schools are just starting to see that they can do things on their own. These early adopters understand that they need to manage the donation and grants proposals processes like a sales process. …