How to convert more Applicants into enrolled Students

    7 Steps to Overcoming Challenges in Integrating Modern Admissions Platforms with Legacy Systems

    Our guide to integrating modern and legacy admissions platforms will equip you with the knowledge you need to modernise your higher education admissions process.
    Last updated:
    July 10, 2024

    Higher education institutions constantly strive to improve the student experience, and a significant aspect of this endeavour is modernising the admissions process.

    For IT leaders, integrating modern admissions platforms with existing legacy systems is one of the most substantial challenges in this transformation. For example, some legacy systems utilize old technologies, programming languages and data formats that are not compatible with newer systems, making data transfer a difficult task.

    However, there are ways to overcome the challenges that arise through system integration in a higher education setting. This blog article will guide you through seven essential steps to dismantle the roadblocks associated with integration and digitise your admissions process.

    Step 1: Understand Your Current System

    Start by gaining a thorough understanding your existing legacy systems – their capabilities, limitations, and the specific areas where they need to meet the requirements of a modern admissions process. By identifying these gaps, you'll understand what needs to be addressed by the new system.

    Review all the available documentation relating to the legacy system, including user manuals, design documents and system architecture diagrams. Understanding the system’s workflows and features will give you a solid foundation of knowledge to build upon.

    Step 2: Set Clear Goals

    Together with other key leaders in the institution, set goals and clearly establish what you aim to achieve with the new admissions platform. Do you want higher efficiency? An enhanced user experience? Clearer analytics? All three? Defining your goals will help set you up for success when it comes to integration and implementation.

    To help you set your goals, here are nine key consideration:

    • Application management – an admissions platform should enable users to manage the entire admissions lifecycle, including storing data, customising forms and facilitating online application submissions.
    • Application review and evaluation – users should be able to customize evaluation criteria, automate scoring and assign tasks to individuals or teams.
    • Offer management – users should also be able to record decisions, generate offers, and manage responses with ease.
    • Collaboration and communication – the platform should facilitate communication between admissions staff, applicants and others through email notifications, messaging and collaborative communication tools.
    • Analytics and reporting – reporting capabilities should be comprehensive, enabling users to generate the system’s findings in a customizable, easy-to-navigate way.
    • Integration – a modern admissions platform should integrate with other higher education tools, such as financial aid, CRM and student information systems.
    • Security and data privacy – as well as complying with necessary data protection regulations, the platform should follow encryption protocols and security audits.
    • Mobile accessibility – admissions staff, applicants and other stakeholders should be able to interact with the platform from anywhere, on smartphones and tablets.
    • Scalability – finally, an excellent admissions platform is flexible and customizable; it can accommodate fluctuating application volumes and future growth.

    Step 3: Choose a Modern Platform that Complements Your Legacy System

    When selecting a new admissions platform, you should ensure it can effectively bridge the gaps you identified in the legacy system. But it's equally important for the new platform to be capable of integrating with your legacy system. Look for modern admissions platforms with robust APIs and proven success in working with legacy systems.

    One of your first priorities should be to identify external interfaces, systems and APIs with which the legacy system interacts, and understand the data formals, communication mechanisms and protocols involved in these interactions. APIs are crucial for integrating disparate systems and enabling data exchange. Your legacy admissions system might not have robust APIs; a customized solution might be necessary.

    Step 4: Adopt a Phased Approach

    Integrating complex systems comes with certain inherent – yet mitigatable – risks, such as data loss, compatibility issues or disruption to services. Rather than performing an abrupt complete switch to the new platform, consider implementing a phased transition approach. This will enable you to confront any challenges in a more manageable way.

    You could, for instance, run a pilot with one of your programmes or departments and address any concerns that arise before moving onto the next phase, thus minimising the risk of organization-wide disruption and critical failures. By phasing the integration of your legacy and new admissions software, you can keep your core operations running while introducing new functionalities and workflows. This can help users adapt to the changes too.

    At each phase, be sure to evaluate and gather feedback to discern what is working well and any areas for improvement. Including stakeholders’ feedback in the process is not only valuable from a technical perspective, but it can help boost user ‘buy-in’ too.


    How to Boost Admissions using Workflow Automation

    The development and maintenance of an in-house system is a complex and time-consuming task. Full Fabric lets you turn your full attention to maximizing growth and performance.

    Step 5: Seek Expert Assistance

    A solid implementation process guarantees success. Look for vendors with experience implementing the platform – they can help navigate the integration process and troubleshoot issues. Integrating platforms with different architectures and formats can be complex, which is why having experts that can navigate both can help the project run efficiently.

    An expert who understands both your legacy and new system can identify potential challenges and come up with customized solutions for your higher education institution.

    Step 6: Prioritize Training

    Integrating modern and legacy platforms requires training and support for users who are accustomed to the legacy system. Educate users on the new features and functionalities of the integrated solution, and provide ongoing technical support.

    First, identify the skills and knowledge required to operate the new elements of the admissions system; what is the existing skill level of your staff, and are there any knowledge gaps that need to be addressed? Then, create a training plan that outlines the objectives, outcomes, and training methods and learning styles.

    Here are some best practices that constitute a through and effective staff IT training plan:

    • Assess needs – identify the knowledge gaps within the organization.
    • Define objectives – define the training plan’s intended outcomes; goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
    • Develop training – develop a training program that covers the required skills and knowledge areas: tailor it to the roles and responsibilities of individual staff members.
    • Training resources – ensure staff have access to the resources they need to engage with the training.
    • Delivery – work out suitable timings and decide which qualified professionals will deliver the training – will they deliver the training in-person, online or both?
    • Tracking and assessment – decide how you will evaluate learning outcomes (e.g. quizzes, exams, practical assignments or exams).
    • Ongoing training – provide ongoing support throughout the training process and beyond, and ensure that all users are aware of any changes and updates.

    Step 7: Test and Monitor

    Before going live with the new platform, conduct comprehensive testing to ensure all functionalities work as expected and the integration with the legacy system is seamless. Testing can highlight any errors relating to functionality and usability early on, allowing the implementation team to address them before the new, integrated solution goes live.  

    During testing, you should look at how the system performs under different workloads and scenarios – can it handle an increase in user traffic, and is it intuitive from a usability perspective?

    You should continue to monitor the system closely after the launch, addressing issues promptly. Monitoring tools or real-user monitoring (RUM) solutions can measure response times, page load times and transaction success rates from different locations and users. Ongoing monitoring also helps detect and respond to potential security issues quickly.


    Integrating a modern admissions platform with an existing legacy system requires careful planning, technical expertise, and thorough testing to overcome compatibility, data migration, security, performance and user experience challenges.

    Yet despite the challenges, the benefits of a more efficient, user-friendly, and data-driven admissions process make the endeavour worthwhile. By following these steps, IT leasers can drive their institutions towards a smoother, more modern admissions experience, delivering substantial student and staff benefits.

    What should I do now?

    • Schedule a Demo to see how Full Fabric can help your organization.
    • Read more articles in our blog.
    • If you know someone who’d enjoy this article, share it with them via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.