3 Tips for Jumpstarting Your New Higher Ed Business Model
Dive into our new blog series highlighting higher education Trailblazers that are innovating with an eye on the future – creating new models and experiences designed to support the evolving needs of their constituents. Each post will highlight one of the four pillars of the future-ready institution:
- Agility for New Business Models
- Data Empowered Culture
- Proactive & Holistic Support
- Real-Time Collaboration Networks
Over the past few years, the ways in which the higher education sector is using technology have changed. We’ve seen institutions use Salesforce to help safely promote a return to campus, like the University of Vermont’s COVID Response Center, or make learning more accessible, like Calbright College. According to the second edition of the Connected Student Report, 43% of survey respondents say their institutions are even implementing new business models as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Demand for Online Education is Changing
Prior to the pandemic, Louisiana State University (LSU) made a commitment to developing and expanding their online learning capabilities. In addition to a continuing education program that had been around since 1924, LSU Online represented fewer than 20 programs and only a few hundred students.
By insourcing program management, development and building infrastructure to provide world class service and support to online students, LSU Online and Continuing Education grew to more than 150 online degrees, certificates, and micro-credentials. The program now services and supports more than 15,000 students.
The online program team has also partnered with the entire family of LSU institutions, including LSU Alexandria, LSU Eunice, LSU Shreveport, and the LSU Health Science Centers, building on the LSU brand and leading to significant online enrollment growth. This focus couldn’t have come at a better time. Coupled with external factors, like the pandemic, LSU’s online program has seen double digit year-over-year growth since 2018.
The Technology Behind the Business Model
Before Salesforce, LSU Online used a patchwork of documents, spreadsheets, and databases to manage their program participants, enrollment information, and all other data from the program. However, when the decision to focus on online education was made at LSU, they knew they needed a system that could support their anticipated growth.
LSU Online implemented Education Cloud in 2019. Program leadership started by identifying processes that worked for them, with a focus on empowering faculty and students with the tools they needed to be successful. Getting into Salesforce and using it before the organization experienced major growth was key to identifying what they did or didn’t need from the system, and allowed leadership to take the next steps in making their business model sustainable and scalable.
The People, Processes & Technology Framework for a Sustainable Organization
Now, Salesforce is a core piece of LSU’s processes and technology. The technology is allowing the LSU Online and Continuing Education team to market, recruit, and retain students, as well as analyze which programs are in highest demand and have the best graduation rate. The staff has grown from around 50 to over 215 in the past year to support their students and the online programs of the entire family of institutions.
With such incredible growth, the next step was making the solution scalable. Cloud for Good and LSU worked together to understand the business processes and where the team was spending the most time. They saw a great opportunity with the recruiting staff to streamline and automate their business processes, make sure everyone was using the system in the same way, and then report back on the impact on the program. Now, recruiters come into work with a list of automatically generated tasks directly in Salesforce. They don’t have to figure out those next steps on their own or worry about tasks getting dropped.
Exceeding Goals with Salesforce
LSU Online’s task automation has drastically increased productivity across the organization. Following the automation, Spring 2022 goals were met and exceeded with LSU reaching 105% and 116% of internal application and admit goals. These statistics are made more impressive considering LSU Online was able to process double the number of applications for the Spring ’22 semester over the Fall ’21 term — leading to record-breaking numbers of fully-enrolled online students at LSU.
3 Tips for Jumpstarting Your New Business Model with Salesforce
Whether for safety, connectivity, or managing increased demand, institutions are assessing how to create more value and what internal shifts they need to make to accelerate these changes. Learning from LSU, here are a few tips on how to get started:
- Understand your goals before getting started. Having an agreed-upon mission for your team will help guide your Salesforce build.
- Start simple and add complexity over time. LSU is a great example of that. They were coming from spreadsheets and started with a basic configuration. Once they were comfortable, they worked with Cloud for Good to automate their processes using a crawl, walk, run approach.
- Work with a partner to help with the complex. You’ll need internal administrators to run your day-to-day business, but working with a Salesforce.org partner, like Cloud for Good, will help take your Salesforce experience to new heights.
About the Authors
Managing Director – Education Industry, Cloud for Good
Dave has 13 years of experience in higher education, including 6 years of Salesforce project management experience where he’s implemented more than 50 institutions onto the Salesforce platform in varying degrees of complexity. He is passionate about helping universities reach and retain students using technology from the beginning of the recruitment and admissions cycle through to alumni relations.
Dave earned his Master of Science in Global and International Education with a focus in Peace Education from Drexel University. In his free time, he enjoys watching and playing tennis and soccer, taking hikes with his dog, and traveling the globe – he’s visited 29 countries and counting!
Interim Vice President, Louisiana State University Online and Continuing Education
With more than 25 years of Information Technology management experience, Kappie is a seasoned IT leader who has coached and mentored technical professionals in a wide range of IT disciplines. After graduating from Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science as well as an MBA, Kappie served in various management capacities, quickly rising to senior leadership levels.
As a certified project management professional (PMP), her experience also encompasses significant experience managing large-scale, enterprise wide application implementation projects, many of which contained business process re-engineering components. Kappie is a member of the Baton Rouge CIO Roundtable and has spoken at several national conferences.
Kappie is bringing her wealth of knowledge, currently serving as Interim VP for LSU’s Online and Continuing Education Program.
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