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Drive Higher Ed Student Engagement with Salesforce’s HEDA

By January 11, 2018 No Comments

Higher education organizations have the incredible responsibility of engaging students on a personal level and offering them a solid foundation for years to come. At the end of the day, this is even harder to accomplish than it sounds. They’re tasked with delivering a cohesive and comprehensive student experience – from prospect to applicant to student.

This is made even more complex when you look below the surface of the inner workings of these organizations. Many universities treat their schools as distinct entities, each charged with their own funding, management, and systems. Bridging students across an entire institution is a difficult undertaking and involves a handful of teams.

To alleviate these pain points, Salesforce and partners like Soliant Consulting started onboarding them to the Salesforce platform. We showed them how its capabilities could organize all information in the background and empower them through its sales and customer service functionalities.

Unfortunately, because of their siloed organizational structures, many schools still opted to keep data in disparate Salesforce orgs. The data was more organized and useful, but it still wasn’t integrated across the university. In March 2016, Salesforce presented a solution with its launch of Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA).

What is HEDA?

HEDA is an architecture of objects, fields and workflows.  It is a foundation, a framework – and each school can leverage it and build upon it to meet their unique needs.

Customization Opportunities

While there is no easy way to integrate all schools, HEDA drives standardization to implement a customized backend solution. This allows distinct Salesforce systems to work with one another, providing streamlined engagement for the student through coordinated records.

Expert developers or Salesforce customization firms (like Soliant) can help higher education organizations customize HEDA and help implement connected Salesforce orgs on top of this framework across its network of schools. This delivers a cohesive data system while allowing each school to continue to operate as individual entities.

HEDA Development Resources

HEDA is open source and available for community enhancements. You can find the code on GitHub and fork and customize it for your higher education organization. There is a large community at the Power of Us Hub where you can go to ask questions, collaborate and share.

Evolving with University Needs

Salesforce.org is constantly providing updates based on user feedback. They’ve already created a contact merge function and the ability to customize the account name format, which helps remove duplicate records in the system.

Plans for HEDA include allowing for multiple program and course linking, further integrating data between schools. Soon, organizations will also be able to create a higher education-centric approach to converting leads to school applicants. Therefore, universities can maintain all records in one place and move one person through the system through its lifetime with the university – from lead to applicant to student to alumni. This functionality enhances workflows and capabilities for everyone from recruiters to donor managers.

Even better, new translation languages are added with each release, allowing international institutions to take advantage of the HEDA framework and empowering campuses to connect across continents and through language barriers.

Enhanced Recruiter Capabilities

With HEDA and connected records, recruiters have more capabilities and access to more powerful insights about student prospects. All prospect data, from applications to admission, benefits from similar functionality in the Sales cloud, empowering recruiters to deliver more engaging sales tactics to boost admission growth. They can speed up conversions through data-driven decision-making by measuring the results of their efforts and continuing to refine their strategies.

Automation also presents major opportunities. Recruiters can automate application approval and rejection through the same logic they undergo manually during application evaluation. Or, they can automate communication with prospects, keeping potential students interested in their university and informed about application deadlines. Recruiters even have access to mobile tools for when their job takes them on the go.

Einstein delivers predictive admissions pipeline, giving recruiters insights into which prospects are most likely to complete the application process and commit to their university. This allows them to focus their attention on where it matters most and less on prospects unlikely to convert. The data analytics and AI engine of Einstein makes recruiters more productive and successful in their work.

These Salesforce enhancements essentially give recruiters the power to drive incredible growth for their universities.

HEDA Compatibility Program

Furthering this mission, Salesforce recently announced the HEDA Compatibility Program. This initiative aims to evolve the student experience by delivering more innovation with the support of ISV partner applications. The platform has put a global strategy for application engagement in place, so customers can further connect campuses. This, of course, comes with clear standards for integrations, ensuring universities only have the best applications to choose from.

Salesforce Advisor Link

Announced at Dreamforce ’17 and live as of Dec 12, 2017, is the new Salesforce Advisor Link.

This functionality works with both service cloud and communities to deliver a unified advising record, allowing all schools and campuses to collaborate on student records.

They can automate immediate follow-up communications on conversations, reminders to register for classes or sign up for student aid, or even schedule appointments with advisors.

Getting Started in HEDA for Free

HEDA is open source. You can easily launch it for free and begin to customize it for your higher education institution. If you need help customizing it for your specific goals and needs or implementing each school and/or campus across its foundation, my team and I are happy to help.

Michelle Lavalette

Michelle Lavalette

Michelle is a Technical Project Lead in Soliant’s San Francisco office, working remotely from Arizona. Michelle has over 10 years in the Salesforce eco system with work in the sales, service, financial, and health clouds. Michelle has eight Salesforce certifications. In her spare time Michelle enjoys hiking, biking, motorcycling, working on cars, and walking dogs.

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