As higher education becomes increasingly competitive and globalised, the quality of the student experience is becoming more and more important. To stay competitive, universities need to create the most value at every stage of the student lifecycle – otherwise, they’ll lose prospects to institutions which better cater to students' requirements.
A Candidate Relationship Management solution (CRM) is crucial. A CRM is a piece of software which allows you to manage every aspect of your relationship with prospects, enrolled students and alumni. The use of CRM in higher education is widespread: in a study conducted by Ovum in 2013, 90% of universities stated that they use one.
Institutions looking to adopt a CRM face two options: build one themselves or buy an off-the-shelf product from a software vendor. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach which depend entirely on an institution’s individual requirements.
Universities that decide to build their own CRM often choose to do so because it allows them to customise features and functionalities according to their unique requirements. But further down the line, the scope of the application and the complexity of the tool’s functionality can begin to present an array of difficulties.
Here are three reasons your university should opt for an existing product and not attempt to build a CRM from scratch.
Sophistication and complexity
It’s increasingly difficult for a university IT department to build software as sophisticated as a SaaS application. In many cases, home-grown solutions comprise open-source software wired together by non-specialists. This can initially seem like a cost-effective approach, but the product will likely lack the depth and adaptability of a professional software solution and will require further investment.
Those opting to build a solution in-house have to start from scratch for each implementation. SaaS providers don’t suffer from this problem since vendors offer solutions ‘out of the box’: the product has already been developed and tested and can often be implemented in a relatively short amount of time.
Capacity and project management
SaaS providers already have the staff and project management expertise required to prepare a solution fit for purpose. Universities will struggle to assemble a workforce as knowledgeable and experienced. Even producing a project roadmap and managing complex databases can prove difficult for small, inexperienced teams, and countless other challenges will occur during the course of development.
Growth and scale
Businesses are not static and with time their requirements inevitably evolve. Their software needs to change accordingly. For in-house solutions, this presents more complexity in the development process. A common problem occurs when the staff members who initially developed the solution move on and existing staff have to reverse-engineer the software.
Conversely, SaaS providers are used to change. As part of a license agreement, SaaS providers implement product updates with new features on a monthly or even weekly basis. Many are also open to customising their product according to certain users’ needs and openly welcome suggestions for future developments.
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