By David Bowker

How Can Universities Leverage Tech for Fast, Powerful Results?

How Unis can leverage tech

During a profound crisis it’s often the most basic processes and functions that make the greatest positive differences.

For example, when the scope of the COVID-19 challenge was first becoming clear, one of our university clients realised they were going to have to communicate clearly and openly with students who had found themselves in all sorts of difficult situations. Some were stranded overseas. Others were stuck in Australia, wanting to get back to their home country. Many have been impacted financially, unable to get to campus or find accommodation.

The university, having recently implemented a Salesforce platform, was able to design, build and deploy forms in minutes – a process that once took several days. The fact that it could be completed and deployed so quickly meant the university communicated and gathered data in real time as the situation shifted daily. They were able to react with pace and clarity, offering students and other university stakeholders great confidence.

But technology on its own is only as good as an organisation’s governance.

In this article we explore how Australian universities can leverage technology and systems to make fast decisions, distribute resources and pivot effortlessly as priorities require.

Be ready to respond at rapid speed

What if it was suspected that a student had COVID-19? How would you track who the person would have been in contact with? In today’s environment, the swiftness of getting in contact with those affected can impact a university’s reputation in a positive or negative way.

If a university is required to contact a group of students or staff about COVID-19, or any emergency for that matter, having a rapid response service tool built into a centralised system can enable a university to rapidly communicate with those who might be impacted.

Simplus took this approach with one Australian university and built a rapid response service tool on Salesforce’s Service Cloud that enabled the university to manage this challenge.

With this system they could use Salesforce as a system of record and coordination to find everybody the person had been in contact with. It also would enable them to centralise communication with key people by using Marketing Cloud.

The fact that we were able to help the university pivot so quickly and build solutions to problems arising on a daily basis meant they have been able to maintain a responsible and consistent approach to the current crisis.

Establish good governance processes for now and everyday

If there is a single lesson the COVID-19 experience has taught universities and businesses of all types, it’s that the agility and ability to respond to sudden opportunities and threats in real time is no longer optional.

But to pivot and react at speed, universities need good governance processes in place. In short, they need a centralised IT team, with centralised resources, budgets and decision making powers. One team working together focused on prioritising solutions.

And with a centralised team it means the university can be confident that it’s building the highest-value systems all of the time, rather than duplicating and iterating solutions for different areas of the university. Resulting in a strategic roadmap that teams can follow and action as priorities arise.

For example, over the coming months it’s expected the requests for special consideration on university grades is going to increase. Instead of building new systems for these requests, an existing CRM system can be built upon to help manage this process in a centralised way. And because it’s built directly from the CRM, teams will be well placed to adapt and scale this form for any future changes.

And by building on top of an existing CRM system and taking a configuration approach, new solutions are not only scalable, but go live quickly. Because at the end of the day, if you set your teams up to respond to this crisis, imagine what they can respond to on a normal day.

Draw upon specialised Salesforce CRM expertise

One of the biggest challenges organisations face is building an effective centre of excellence and establishing operational best practices around their Salesforce – even more so with universities currently facing unprecedented change. In our experience leveraging a CRM managed services offering can help universities use their CRM systems to their fullest potential – at time when they need it most.

With managed services, university IT teams can be guided by seasoned Salesforce professionals to develop operational best practices and then work with you to continuously enhance your Salesforce. This model is highly flexible so that if change does occur, as small or large as that might be, the processes and expertise are there to enable a university to pivot quickly and deliver solutions that respond to this.

Shaping a new educational future

There’s no denying this virus is changing the concept of what a university is for the foreseeable future. From the attraction of students, to the value of the university brand, to the online learning experience, technology is going to be a fundamental part of the solution.

But with an agile IT system managed by a centralised team with outsourced support where required, run under consistent processes of governance, universities can work towards maintaining their current projects while rapidly responding to challenges caused by COVID-19.

Which given the current environment, is a pretty remarkable possibility.

If you want to learn more about helping your university respond to COVID-19, get in touch with our team who are always available to help.

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