Colleges and universities are designed for teaching, not technology. But they still need to accurately manage student, staff, and faculty information, from class schedules to tuition bills to paychecks. Too often, legacy systems can create cumbersome data silos and redundancies, slowing down adoption of the new technologies and tools that students and faculty are excited to use.
A Smarter Approach to Integration
Higher Education Integration FAQs
Higher Education is being reimagined with engagement and personalization as cores to learning and student success. The shift in education has three main pillars that institutions must embrace.
- Communication – Continually communicate with students with the right information based on where the student is in the lifecycle and in the right channels.
- Onsite and remote learning – Provide new ways of teaching and remote learning capabilities.
- Engagement – Deliver a frictionless and engaging student experience to ensure student retention and success and to foster a long-term relationship as alumni.
To build the foundation of these three pillars, systems and data must be integrated to enable a 360-degree view of students. This insight helps institutions to rapidly deliver personalized and innovative experiences. Here are details on why institutions are integrating Higher Education data systems.
Automate manual processes: Multiyear student, faculty, and curriculum data often live in different education databases, student data systems, and files. The data needs to be manually exported and uploaded to other databases to make decisions, respond to requests, and provide reporting.
Manual processes are time-consuming, require analyst resources, and are error-prone. The time lag in performing manual processes means that reporting cannot be done, decisions cannot be made, and students do not receive timely information until the manual uploads are completed.
Connect data and systems to enable the student lifecycle: Today’s institutions embrace the complete student lifecycle from recruiting, to admissions, to student success, and alumni engagement. Each stage is supported by different data and systems from different vendors.
To seamlessly engage students through the lifecycle, data and systems must be integrated. For example, Taylor University uses Salesforce as the interface for admissions counselors to work with students and track communications throughout the admissions stage. But the student application process is done in Banner. So everyday Taylor uses Jitterbit to pull data out of Banner and load it into Salesforce so that admissions counselors have a complete view of their students.
Perform rapid integrations: Institutions must compete by accelerating critical use cases through integration in Education. For example, Allegheny College accelerated its admissions process by integrating admitted student data in Salesforce into Colleague in less than a week. The college then enhanced this by integrating the third party Common App, which is a major application portal with large files such as video attachments, with Salesforce.
Jitterbit has hundreds of higher education customers and many are creating a 360-degree view of student data across the entire college journey. Different stages of the journey require different communications, personalization, and services which are enabled by the integration of these Higher Education data systems. Here are some of the most common use cases.
Student Recruitment: This is a key initiative to keep enrollment strong. There are many activities involved in recruiting students, such as bringing together data from multiple sources, customizing and managing recruiting messages, tracking important milestones in the recruiting process, such as those that have done a virtual tour or onsite campus visit, and building recruitment groups where prospective students can learn more about the school.
Many systems must be integrated to enable these activities including CRM (Salesforce), Student Information Systems, ERP (Colleague and Banner), social media channels (Facebook and Twitter), and marketing automation and communication tools (Marketo and SMS).
Admissions and Enrollment: College admissions have become increasingly competitive. Schools need to access all the details of a student’s application, determine financial aid, make the right admission decisions, communicate the decisions to accepted students, manage waitlists, and enroll the students into classes and housing.
This student data then needs to be automated so that information can sync seamlessly between systems. Systems that require integration include CRM (Salesforce), student application and test information (Common App, SAT/ACT, FAFSA), Student Information Systems, ERP (Colleague, Banner, Oracle Peoplesoft), and marketing automation systems (Marketo and Pardot).
Marketing: Once students matriculate, they begin a new journey toward graduation and schools are dedicated to student success. This requires communicating with students, ensuring that students enroll in appropriate courses, tracking student progress, monitoring coursework completion and intervening for ‘at risk’ students, and connecting students with academic support and counseling. Systems that require integration include marketing automation systems (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle), and others.
Advancement: Fundraising is a major initiative for schools and is dependent on alumni engagement. Activities include keeping a database of alumni and donors, engaging with them, raising funds, diversifying funding sources, formalizing recognition programs, and running events. Systems that require integration are CRM (Salesforce), databases (Oracle, SAP), career centers, fundraising systems (Raiser’s Edge, Salesforce Education Cloud, Giftworks), financial systems, social media channels, and others.
Alumni and Community Engagement: Career services and advising are important parts of student success. Colleges and universities build databases of internship opportunities, match students to career options, connect students with alumni for career mentorship and jobs, and identify companies for campus career fairs.
Online student communities keep students engaged and active in the community. Systems that require integration are CRM (Salesforce), Student Information Systems, Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle), student health portal, online social platforms (Salesforce Community Cloud), content management software (Drupal), and others.
- Apply company-wide data governance: Data governance is the set of principles and practices that ensure high-quality data and is important to have an accurate 360-degree view of students and the organization. Make data governance a company-wide initiative and get executive buy-in upfront. Start small with data governance and expand it over time.
- Apply Higher Education data management practices: As part of data governance, apply Higher Education data management practices that define and manage data in a modern and mature way. Consider data as an institutional asset that can be used in an open way so it is reusable. Involve the teams that understand the data the best (e.g., admissions, enrollment, student success).
- Determine systems of record: One of the first steps in Higher Education data management is to understand and determine which systems are systems of record. This decision will help to create a simplified data architecture that eliminates duplication and minimizes data movement.
- Define data: Another step in Higher Education data management is to understand what data exists, what is the purpose, who owns it, and what can be done with it. Create shared definitions of data so that there is a common understanding which prevents multiple definitions of the same data. Look at data from a business, not a technical perspective. Define functions and objects. Data should be around a person (student, buyer demographics).
- Identify common tools: Another step in Higher Education data management is to narrow the tools to be used. Find a common toolset across systems and data to save time, money, and focus.
- Create data maps: Determine early on what data is coming in and where the data will go. If there are two systems with similar data, organize the data, determine what data will go where, and retain other data somewhere else. Create clear indicators on fields with common names. Additionally, when loading the data, sequence it so that the data points are always the most up-to-date.
- Break up integrations into several steps: Don’t try to boil the ocean. Use an integration platform like Jitterbit to break up jobs into multiple steps. For example, if data is being moved from Banner to Salesforce which is a SQL database, create the following steps: run queries in Banner; dump data into a temporary table in Banner; make changes to get it in shape for Salesforce; load to Salesforce using Jitterbit mapping.
- Create backups to facilitate recovery: As an example, if a student drops a class in the first 10 days of a semester, the class needs to be deleted in the list of active courses in Salesforce to be in sync with Banner. If a school is using Jitterbit to copy Salesforce into spare tables of student information as a backup, SQL can be used to compare records between Banner and Salesforce to find the deletions. Here too, Jitterbit can facilitate the deletions in Salesforce.