Final RM Meeting 26th March 2010

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This was the final face-to-face event for all the projects in the JISC Relationship Management Programme to share their findings and to learn from each other. The meeting was held on Friday 26th March 2010 at York St John University.

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Introduction and Overview

Presenters: Paul Hollins and Sharon Perry, JISC CETIS.
Presentaton: Overview of the JISC Relationship Management Programme, Powerpoint Format, 1.86Mb.

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Importance of the Projects and How They Will Feed into Future Work

Presenters: Myles Danson and Simon Whittemore, JISC
Presentations: Part One: Context, objectives and benefits, PowerPoint Format, 837Kb.
Part Two: Lessons, challenges and future indications, PowerPoint Format, 1.08Mb.

Notes: There is value in understanding processes. Most projects have under-estimated the work involved. It can be challenging to get senior management buy-in, so the business case needs to be put across. The challenge is how the space for the delivery and management of service design be carved out in traditional academic processes.

It is very important to disseminate and embed the learning from these projects - don't be information hamsters!

The plan is to continue funding in RM. Work is being planned in alumni engagement. Other possible areas may include:

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CRM Projects

Overview: Mindmap of CRM Presentations
alt="Mindmap of CRM presentations"

Group 1 CRM Projects Collaborative Presentation

Presenters: Birkbeck, University of London, Doncaster College, UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire), and York St John University

UCLAN ran a workshop to identify the needs of the different stakeholders and to help staff understand the potential benefits of a CRM approach, such as improving the REF (Research Excellence Framework) assessment by linking research publications to BCE. Although the institution has various strategies and implementation plans, there is some uncertainty about how these are monitored. Part of the process improvement work was to identify how to match up staff expertise with enquiries and to stop some data just being discarded by not being recorded. The project team have also used the JISC InfoNet "Embedding Business and Community Engagement (BCE)" Toolkit and have asked facilitators to do a walk-through session using this Toolkit with staff. The Toolkit is a little like the SAF (Self-Analysis Framework), in that it helps users identify the stage they are at and suggests ideas for improvements. Where management of BCE relationships is unco-ordinated, CRM can help to organise manage these. However, the cultural change required will be huge.

Birkbeck, University of London found that the biggest issue is getting people to understand the CRM approach. In some respects, it doesn't matter which technical CRM system is implemented, but how it is used. Before Birkbeck implemented their technical CRM system, they asked their stakeholders a series of questions, which helped inform a vision for CRM. They then brought in a consultancy to design the system (Sugar Refinery), which customises and integrates the SugarCRM product. As much of the CRM data is currently held in different places, the project team looked at what information was being held where and asked the consultancy to try and integrate it into one central location. The resulting BELS (Birkbeck Employer Links System) tool is an analytical tool, which aims to build transparency across the various institutional systems and can be used as a reporting tool. It doesn't yet talk to the Finance System, but they hope to include this in the future - it is one thing to implement a system and another to get them to talk to each other!

York St John University has been using Sage Act! as their technical CRM system. In order to test the effectiveness of their CRM processes, they have used a postal and telemarketing campaign as a case study for the project. One of the issues that has come to light is that the expensive external consultancy used for training on the system was poor and this affected staff confidence in using it. The consultancy contract was terminated and training was done in-house instead. People do want to use the system and they seem happy with it, but they also want good training, so moving to an in-house trainer should provide a better service.

Another issue was that external access to the system had not been considered at time of purchase, but this is now being addressed. Also, interoperability with other technical systems, such as Finance, also hadn't been considered. Unfortunately, Sage Act! doesn't yet support Windows 7, so some backward engineering has been necessary. York St John has also been looking at the protocols and procedures around CRM, which until recently haven't been available for staff at time of training, and they hope to have them fully implemented by December 2010, so this JISC project has helped to move them forward with their CRM strategy. There has been buy-in from senior management and this project has also helped them to understand the strategic benefits of CRM.

Doncaster College also had an existing technical CRM system, but there had been very little staff training and no procedures and protocols around CRM implemented. As a result of this JISC project, the project team have now developed procedures around how data should be entered onto the system. There have been some data input errors, so it is important to check data for validity. There has been lots of CRM activity within the institution but it hasn't been brought together into one central location. The approach to standardising the data has been to archive everything and then bring it back on an individual basis, correcting anything as required. There have been many technical issues with the existing CRM system, including lack of web-based access, and as soon as the software supplier has fixed one problem, they create another, which then upsets the staff who have to use the system, and this creates barriers. As the system hadn't been used fully until recently, more and more bugs have also been coming to light. It was hoped that it would link to the enrolment system, but it hasn't yet been possible to access this data. The CRM system is now being used to ensure that companies are vetted for health and safety, before students can be placed with them.

Group 2 CRM Projects Collaborative Presentation

Presenters: Bournemouth University, Coventry University, Knowledge House, University of Huddersfield, and University of Wales Newport
Presentation: CRM Group 2, PowerPoint Format, 312Kb.

This group had a number of common findings:

Bournemouth University found that they needed to contain how much information they could realistically gather and analyse in the time of the project. They also tried to do a gap analysis and to see if it was possible to link up with alumni systems. The current finance system is used for tracking bids, project awards, research grants, KTPs (Knowledge Transfer Partnerships), management of funds etc, with some BCE data thrown in. However, this system is not really fit for purpose and so staff have been quite frustrated by it, particularly as it has been quite slow. There can be some tension between centralised v. localised activities to the extent that some departments have developed their own policies. This may be due to shortcomings in centralised systems.

The project team found that BCE CRM needs to be part of their marketing strategy and that this can help provide better marketing intelligence. BCE relationships can be categorised by different industries or requirements. They also found that the issue of trust is very important regarding the use of or access to data. Because there were different people who were involved in different aspects of the processes examined, the number of stakeholders interviewed was larger than expected.

The University of Wales Newport looked at developing best practice for systems integration, i.e. what works for the stakeholder, rather than one system being imposed. However, getting systems to talk to each other and to be fully integrated can be costly. Therefore, it is important that a cost v. benefits analysis is done first. It can take time to develop shared systems, which is why there needs to be an overall shared vision for CRM.

Knowledge House is a partnership of five universities, OneNorthEast and Business Link. The project has been looking at the necessary pillars to achieve common goals and identification of critical success factors. It is unlikely that one system will fulfil all the needs of an institution regarding relationship management, so it is important that different systems can talk to each other. CRM should be about:

Group 3 CRM Projects Collaborative Presentation

Presenters: Loughborough University, Roehampton University, University of Hull, and University of Salford

The University of Salford project team has been finding that as a result of the project, requests for access to the system have been exceeding the system's capabilities. The culture of the university is slowly changing and the message about the benefits of sharing data has slowly been getting through. However, it is important to understand the culture and to work with it. The current economic climate is actually helping to focus effort on developing alternative revenue streams that can support other areas of the university.

The project team at Roehampton University, in partnership with Thames Valley University, has been doing a comparative study of the two universities and has found that the "soft stuff is the really hard stuff". There can be alternative strategies for BCE, such as: