Next steps

Our team is currently conducting research on the migration software used to clean and move data from the HP/ODS into Dynamics CRM, and the available alternatives out on the market. With the increasing footprint of Dynamics comes an increase in demand for native capabilities and features, and Microsoft is regularly expanding the list of options and API’s that facilitate this growth.

Our present CRM partner, Affirma, is slated to provide us with a statement of work at the end of this month, a document which is to include both an increase in the functionality of CRM and the pool of its users around campus. Over the past few months, significant effort was given to the replacement of the in-house tool ‘Tutor Tracker’. The main functionality of this platform is connecting available tutors with students in need of assistance, all the while being mindful of tutor aptitudes and their drop-in availability. While our team would like to get CRM in the hands of requesting users immediately, we’re well aware of the need for proper planning and sustainability, the latter of which being that we can’t support a system that we ourselves are unaccustomed to using.

All this said, our partner has also been tasked with creating a training regimen to accompany their upcoming release. This is to include face-to-face, onsite tutorials, as well as documentation to support the planned environment.

status update

Our Affirma partner is close to wrapping up their phase II needs assessment. In addition some to new functionality and features, the footprint of CRM will increase to include the following units:

Academic Advising
Academic Success Center
Financial Aid (Student Central)
Business Relations Committee (TBD)
Institutional Advancement

Enhancements include the implementation of Security roles, a repository for Educational Plans, a check-in/tracking system for labs, email integration and
user guides/training. Due to the delays of our previous engagement, our timeline has shifted a bit to accommodate the ‘ramp up’ time involved with getting our new partner up to speed with our environment.

Recent CRM Developments

Affirma Consulting has replaced Dell Services as our partner for the second phase of the Dynamics CRM project. The previous relationship was abridged due to scheduling and some internal changes the company had been experiencing. Affirma are a local, Microsoft Gold partner outfit with a successful track record in Dynamics CRM integration and customer satisfaction.

A couple of the pilot units have expressed interest in further training within Dynamics CRM. It would be ineffective to simply provide staff with generic, online tutorials so work is being conducted on creating training that’s catered to the unique environment. We want to ensure that, beyond being useful, our campus sees this tool as the unanimous choice for providing staff with pertinent and current student data.

Phase II

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been active on campus for a couple months now, with a positive, albeit varied, response.

Pilot units have reported a wide range of successes and issues, all of which have been taken into consideration for the next phase of deployment. We’ll be connecting with each pilot and prospective unit in the coming month to go over the requirements they’d identified in the group needs assessment which took place in October of last year.

Also, a survey of the current environment will be sent out to derive as much feedback as possible on the platform. A member of Information Technology Services will be connecting with each business unit individually to go over their requirements, which will be delivered to our team and partner for resolve.


A total of 38 pilots users now have access to CRM, in addition to about 10 support staff.  The two biggest factors for a successful implementation at this time are the availability of ample support, and that people are actually using the tool.

It is important that sponsors, steering committee and stakeholders all share in the effort of asking that staff members to use CRM in their daily work, and that they actually report issues as they arise.  To facilitate this feedback process, we’ve added an input feature to CRM so that personnel can point out problems on the fly:

  1. Navigate to the help center and select “Feedbacks”
  2. Click on the new button to open a new form
  3. Once the form is displayed, fill out the title, type and description of the issue/request and then click on “save” button on top left of the screen
  4. You can also attach documents, screenshots to the same feedback. The system will only allow you to attach documents after the feedback has been created. In order to add a document, click on “enter a note” and select “Attach” button. Click on done after browsing to the document
  5. The security is setup so users will only be able to view/delete/modify their own feedback’s and administrators will be able to view all feedbacks in the system
  6. CRM team will be actively monitoring the feedback module for any submissions and will act in a timely manner to provide a fix or workaround to the affected user

At this time our support staff has little purview of the platform, so any inquiries, big or small, may be directed to me for further resolve.

Moving forward, we’ll be working on licensing procedures, establishing a list of roles, determining the next stage of units to release to, consider branding, and work on a standard for training.

Get live!

Next week will mark the deployment of Dynamics CRM to our pilot units (Multi-Cultural Services, Enrollment Services, Workforce and High School Initiatives).  Along with a demonstration of CRM’s ability by our Grand Canyon University partner, we’ve lined up Administration & Configuration and Power User training for January 19th and 20th, a product of which will be a user guide to eventually present to all student-facing units.

A couple of things we’ll be keeping a pulse on during this time:

  • How well the pilots units are taking to the tool
  • A timeframe by which to evaluate and derive this information
  • Post-pilot ‘rollout’– which groups to feature next
  • …and branding of the tool, as we’ve yet to establish a standard ‘look and feel’

Happy Holidays

Our partner has provided us with a design document that defines “what” and “how” the Dynamics CRM solution will look, feel and function. It is intended to specify how needs are to be met.

Our four pilot units have identified views within the current iteration of CRM (see the list below) that they’ve identified as unnecessary. Some have also expressed interest in adding a couple columns to the default/grid view that would be useful for their staff.

-Full name (Last, First MI)
-SID (950******)
-Day phone
-Evening phone
-Admission number (unique to each student)
-Actually started (quarter, year)
-Citizenship status
-Educational program (transfer, nursing, etc.)
-High school
-Plan to start (quarter, year)
-Resident status
-Student intent (transfer, etc.)

As an aside, we’ve determined from the majority of units that keeping records over 5-7 years old isn’t very practical. This is an iterative process, and we anticipate having a simple, easy-to-navigate interface from the start, then adding/moving attributes as the need arises.

More soon!  Have great holidays and we’ll see you in the new year.

CRM status report

Just a short recap of the activity that’s taken place over the past week:

-Our partner has completed the installation and configuration of Scribe on a development server
-Their team began design activities within the Dynamics CRM environment using Scribe

Coming up:

-Our partner will continue their work on the design phase, and deliver a design document within the next few days
-Their team will connect with the Bellevue College IT/business team to design forms and layout
-We’ll be identifying a team/individual to be trained on how to manipulate fields within CRM
-We’ll start validating the data elements within the system that have already been populated
-We’ll start internal discussions with the business on limiting the data that needs to be brought in to the system. Currently there are 4 million+ enrollment records.

Steering committee meet #2

The CRM steering committee met last Thursday for its second session. In attendance were Faisal Jaswal, Nora Lance, Tracy Biga Maclean, Rebecca Cory and Steve Downing.

We covered the following agenda items, the details of which are available via the OneDrive link I’d sent out:

-Summary of work completed since the last meeting
-Review of Dynamics CRM features and functionality
-Identification of key milestones

I posed the following questions for the team:

1. Will the following units work as potential pilot programs for the tool?:
-Enrollment Services
-Multi-cultural Services
-Workforce Education

2. Matthew Birmingham, Manager of CRM Development at Grand Canyon University, is willing to provide us with a demo of Dynamics CRM. What are the best times to conduct this, with respect to peoples’ schedules?

The following questions, which I’ll escalate to our team, were posed by the committee:

1. Will students need to use their BC email accounts?
2. How long will the training sessions be?
3. What’s the ETA for the confidential, note-taking function?
4. What’s the potential for online training/videos for CRM AND Sharepoint?

Additional resources for perusal:

Examples of CRM in higher education:

UW uses Dynamics CRM:

Full speed ahead

Our Case Management steering committee is scheduled to meet later this week. The following agenda items will be covered, in addition to some discussion on how to best communicate upcoming changes to our stakeholders:

-Summary of work completed since the last meeting
-Review of Dynamics CRM features and functionality
-Identification of key milestones and their dates

Our partner has provided us with an assessment document and fit gap analysis, the first being a suggested approach for each of the deployment phases and the second identifying requirements and effort involved with resolving each.