Create efficiencies and improve customer experience through a purpose-built system

July 29, 2013 4:35 pm, Published by
Universities are choosing to implement purpose-built systems to manage their executive/professional development programmes and events. With a system specifically designed to manage short courses, custom courses, and events, they have been able to reduce administration and offer a better website registration experience for clients.

System requirements

The logistical requirements and website registration requirements for managing full time courses (e.g. degree courses) are very different than those for short courses and events as illustrated in the diagram below.

System requirements diagram

Student Management Systems (SMS) are primarily focused on record management and are not optimised for high-volume, transactional based activity. While some SMS can be adapted and customised to include the functionality, the cost and effort can be prohibitive.  Furthermore, while the end result of the custom development may deliver the basic functional requirements (e.g. can accept website registrations for short courses), the customer experience usually falls well short of what is delivered using a purpose built solution (e.g. Outlook appointments, reminders, venue location maps, flexible invoicing options, etc).

Executive development courses and services are generally targeted at the corporate market whereas full time enrolment courses (e.g. degree level) are targeted at students. By using separate systems, universities are able to easily segment the records so rather than mixing student records with corporate contacts and clients, the databases are kept separate.

Website development

Using a purpose built system also makes it easier and quicker to create a dynamic and interactive website.  Rather than developing a site from scratch, with the right purpose built solution the core website pages are pre-built, such as course pages, a course calendar, course search, and course catalogue.  A web designer just needs to apply a theme over the top. If custom pages or enhancements are required, the web designer is potentially able to access a purpose built API and add additional add-ons.

Private / custom courses

Private courses are a key part of most university executive/professional development programmes.  Course content is tailored to the client’s requirements and delivered on the date and at the location requested.  The logistics of running a private course are therefore very different to a full-time or short course.  The system used to manage these types of courses needs to be easy-to-use and manage activities such as booking presenters, venues, and catering. It also needs to help manage client communication and invoicing.

System integration

Running a separate system for short courses and events doesn’t necessarily mean the system shouldn’t be integrated with other university systems. There may in fact be a benefit to pass certain information between a University’s SMS, CRM, and other business applications.

Auckland University Executive Development

Screenshot of The University of Auckland’s Executive Development website

On and off campus events

Universities often run a full programme of events, on and off campus.  Requirements for running these events are very similar to short courses; both require a simple online registration and payment process with automated communication.

By using the same system used for managing short courses, universities are able to leverage any website integration and back office system integration (e.g. accounting system).  Their administration staff also benefits, as they only need to learn and use one system.

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