Relationship Management in HE

Reflections on Relationship Management in Higher Education and the Gartner EU Education Symposium 2011

I’m involved in the JISC Relationship Management in Higher Education programme, now in Phase 3 looking at opportunities to professionalise the interactions between HEIs and their customers / consumers / constituents (insert your own inflammatory terminology, you get the idea I’m sure).

For more on our holistic approach to RM in HE try the JISC-CETIS RM pages or those from JISC ourselves (Phase 1 and Phase 2), follow #rminhe and note the JISC Self Analysis Framework for Customer Relationship Management

Assuming you have as little spare time as I do, here’s a brief summary:

Phase 1: Landscape study of Student Lifecycle (2008)
Final report based on the following groupings available from JISC website

i. Pre-enrolment: pre-application, application, pre-registration;
ii. Post-enrolment: registration, induction, early retention interventions, personalised programme planning;
iii. Mid-programme activities: programme management, recording of achievement, placement management, retention;
iv. Graduation and post graduation: alumni management, fund raising, post-graduation marketing.

Phase 2: Pilot projects to explore the interactions at touch points at pre and post admission (2009/10)
Eight pilot project case studies including Service Design artefacts describing how analyse existing service provision at touch points in a rich customer focused manner, how to redesign these, implement and evaluation results demonstrating the power of the technique
Synthesis report across the whole programme
Service Design in HE resource with accompanying video

Phase 3: Pilot projects to explore the interactions at touch points focused on progression and retention and alumni (2011/12)
Due August 2012

So, you can imagine my interest in the Gartner European Education Seminar session on Relationship Management in Higher Education by Marti Harris (Gartner Analyst).
Interesting too that over 50% of the audience were Gartner ‘prospects’ yet to take out any subscription, thankfully I saw no evidence of any Hell’s Angel style initiations!

These are my notes on the session in London 5 March 11. All graphics are courtesy of Gartner.


This was a US specific talk focused on ‘prospects’ (recruitment) and ‘advancement’ (includes Alumni) so a somewhat simplistic consideration of stages i. and iv. and missing stages ii and iii of the JISC Student Lifecycle.

The talk matched available vendor offerings and provided a snapshot of this. I’ve repeated this later in the post along with a health warning.
Indicative of the scope here Gartner considered Alumni as a fundraising opportunity only (Alumni as cash cow).

Here’s a JISC slant on Alumni opportunities beyond the cash cow courtesy of Simon Whittemore.

JISC Alumni Brainstorm

Gartner claim that vendors have specialized their offerings for HE but as this talk was very limited in both breadth and depth (perhaps not surprising given the time available) I’m a little cautious about what the sector can conclude from this.

Gartner also stated that the more mature vendors operating at the two extremes of the lifecycle are ‘beginning’ to encroach on the rich middle ground.

So what’s the way forward for UK HE?

It seems there is rich ground for a more holistic approach to RM in HE, so in that sense JISC are on the right track (phew).
I’ve got to emphasise some caution in that undertaking a full implementation addressing RM in HE could be akin to ‘boiling the ocean’, a phrase we saw early on in our Enterprise Architecture prgramme (EA, #eainhe, #jiscfsd).
Perhaps like EA we need a ‘Just Enough’ approach for Relationship Management in HE.
This could encompass our Self Evaluation Framework to scaffold the approach and include an active community of practice to incubate resources that signpost the issues, considerations and resources profiled to each stage of maturity to assist in transitioning from the low end of the spectrum to the more mature.

Talk Highlights courtesy of Gartner

Slide: Advancement lifecycle contains the alumni piece

HE RM Funnel

Slide: Target technology to level of engagement

Purpose and level of engagement

Slide: Expected features of CRM to support SLRM:
Includes student access to data and preferences (multi-channel so Twitter, SMS, FB and new channels as they arise)
Includes analytics to support ‘prospects’ and ‘alumni’

Features of CRM for HE

Slide: Features of Strong SLRM


Slide: Three types of CRM Solution vendor – health warning – this is for ‘prospect’ and ‘alumni as cash cow’ only!


Slide: Three categories of actual vendors – health warning – this is for ‘prospect’ and ‘alumni as cash cow’ only!


Myles Danson, May 2011

1 thought on “Relationship Management in HE

  1. Myles

    These are my own reflections on the state of play – am keen to hear from others particularly anyone with expertise in the Alumni area

    Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *