Campus-wide software implementation projects aren’t easy, and for institutions having the vision to connect recruitment, admissions, student success, advancement, and institutional operations on one platform, it can feel completely overwhelming. Where do we start? How long should this initiative be? How much do we deploy at once? How do we limit risk while still getting users excited with enough functionality? How do we ensure cross-team collaboration once we’re all on one platform? No matter how large or small your Connected Campus initiative is, these are critical questions to answer to create a stable foundation for a successful initiative.

Connected Campus initiatives are more likely to succeed if there is a strong and strategic approach defined at the start of the engagement. However, you also don’t want to deploy an approach that will take years to see results and create value. Elevation Solutions typically approaches Connected Campus Implementations one of three ways. We take a broad, deep, or hybrid approach depending on a myriad of factors identified after getting a comprehensive understanding of the institution, an essential step in developing a Connected Campus roadmap.

To help your team decide which approach is the right fit for your institution, timeline, and requirements, let’s start by considering the following:

  • Your People & Culture – Who is championing the initiative and what do they need to be successful? How does leadership play a role? Have there been major shifts within the team recently? Understand all the non-technical variables at play that ultimately determine how successful you’ll be with this transformation. 
  • Your History – What projects were done in the past? Were they done well? If something failed, why did it fail? Getting to the root of what has happened in the past will prevent repetitive mistakes in the future.
  • Your Mindsets – Do your people generally like technology? How do they act when confronted with transformation? Understanding how your institution embraces change will support how you navigate this new CRM roll out.
  • Your Current & Future Spend – With the shift in people’s time and work, there may be a need to redistribute both effort and budget post-transformation. Do all stakeholders understand the breadth and depth financially? Evaluate what technical debt you’re taking on or taking away with this shift.

Once key criteria is considered, it’s important to understand how an initiative like this is going to be managed long-term, and who needs a seat at the table. Before selecting an approach, broad, deep, or hybrid, it’s critical to understand the importance of technology governance and the methodologies and structure required to be successful.

The Importance of Technology Governance

Establishing a Center of Excellence (CoE) team, will also help define the standards, measures, and facilitators that will drive home your adoption and ensure continuous improvement.  The CoE is where project management, human centered design, digital strategy, data analytics, and process design and governance all come together to support your entire technology landscape. The CoE team ensures that the project methodology aligns with the project goals, and creates a focal point for management of the initiative

ApproachCoE Roll Out
BroadWith the Broad approach, your CoE team should be rolled at the beginning of the project so that people come to the table with their ideas and are invested throughout the project duration.
DeepWIth the Deep approach, there is no need to roll out a true CoE until you’ve gone live with the second process that you’re deploying. You need to have a formalized CoE structure in place as soon as 2 or more functions/departments are on the platform to ensure proper governance. 
HybridRolling out the CoE will typically take place towards the end of go-live.

Now it’s time for your team to determine the best approach for your institution to ensure you reach your destination successfully!

Three Approaches to Deploying Connected Campus

Broad Approach: When broad, organizational transformation needs to happen quickly.

The broad approach is a CRM deployment that focuses on the institution’s key functional needs that are the same for all users to expose users to Salesforce, accelerate adoption, and establish a new way of thinking about technology.

Benefits of the Broad Approach
  • Value is realized quickly by creating a roadmap first
  • Teams are engaged early-on
  • Silos are broken down immediately
  • Understanding the ‘what’ takes place sooner
  • Individual business processes will remain in place until process rollouts
  • Larger effort to align all users right out of the gate
  • Requires concentrated effort to reach tipping point
  • Requires a strong and well-respected champion
Scenario & Supporting Details

An institution is looking to implement a full Connected Campus and almost all teams are begging for a single platform to provide communications functionality, visibility into student data, and easy reporting. Many functional departments are using spreadsheets and the SIS for their business processes. They are all interested in eventually improving their processes with the Salesforce platform, but first want to get the basics in place and feel a bit overwhelmed with ‘too many options’. The sentiment across the institution is that it’s time for a major shift in the way we serve constituents driven by better technology, and the rollout should follow the lifecycle of the student experience to ensure no stone is unturned along the way. Also, there’s a strong institutional champion for the initiative, such as the President, Chief Strategy Officer, or the collective Board of Trustees.

Deep Approach: When there is limited executive sponsorship, or immediate tactical response is required.

The deep approach to Connected Campus implementations focuses on institutions that are aligned with deploying Salesforce for a specific department or function that is willing to showcase their successes to build interest across the rest of the institution.

Benefits of the Deep Approach

  • Allows for teams to focus on one function at a time, such as Admissions, Advising, Student Services, or Advancement
  • Structure of this approach keeps focused effort on users executing similar processes
  • Less technical complexity out of the gate
  • Allows internal Salesforce admins to ramp up skills over a longer period of time
  • Quicker rollout of each process given less stakeholders
  • Organizations can feel that when not everyone is engaged at once, team members can have a harder time staying engaged
  • No defined plan to communicate the long-term institution-wide goals for Salesforce can be an adjustment for some teams
  • Limited ability to implement a new student experience, as student-facing functions are still siloed across departments
  • Reinforces data and process siloes
Scenario & Supporting Details

An institution is looking to implement a full Connected Campus eventually, but departments are slow to get on board with the broader initiative, except for the Undergraduate Admissions team who is desperate for a new CRM. The VP of Enrollment is a strong champion for this initiative and has approval from the Board of Trustees for the first phase, but needs to prove success first before getting full buy-in. The Continuing Education Admissions team is also excited as they are picking up steam in the market, but want to learn from Undergraduate Admissions before jumping on board. The institution just hired a new VP of Advancement who had a prior positive experience with Salesforce, but needs a bit more time to get the lay of the land.

Hybrid Approach: When a 360 degree student view is needed but there are clear opportunities to accelerate value and create more Salesforce champions.

This approach is designed to give a larger constituent audience critical functionality while simultaneously providing quick process wins by tackling functional areas based on immediate need. The best quick win processes to choose are those that are currently completely manual (spreadsheets, sticky notes, etc.).

Benefits of the Hybrid Approach
  • Tailored to blend the best of the broad and deep approaches
  • The quick wins and early visibility into ROI keep teams engaged as they’re gaining visibility into processes they don’t normally see
  • Deep dive into processes that are not automated or considered “rouge processes” can unite departments and build excitement quickly
  • There is a lot of information and many user experiences to coordinate despite the common assumption that we’re simply deploying the “Core CRM”
  • Keeping quick-win processes simple takes very diligent and strict scope management to ensure timelines are adhered to
  • Quick-win processes may have slower adoption as users move from an analog (paper, excel, etc.) to a digital system for the first time
  • Strong leadership and a well-respected champion are critical
Scenario & Supporting Details

An institution is looking to implement a full Connected Campus and they have problems with communications, visibility into student data, and reporting. The institution needs a platform for everyone to use, but they have two very specific needs. One is in Advancement because they are about to kick off a capital campaign and are currently functioning off spreadsheets and barebones functionality in the SIS, and the second is in the Business Office, as they need simpler processes and more channels to reach students regarding overdue balances.

The Importance of Choosing The Right Approach

The way that you implement your CRM has to be aligned with your institution’s culture, history, and mindsets. It is essential that your approach limits the amount of anxiety or fear your teams have surrounding change and how your new software will inevitably impact their day-to-day experience at work. The correct approach will engage both the right number of people and the right people at the right time to allow the greatest value to be achieved and recognized as early as possible.

We’d love to talk with you more! If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our team and approach, please contact us at Our awesome team member, Elise Hastings, will be in touch!

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