Page 28 - Campus Technology, March/April 2020
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realize that adopting a cloud solution limits customization. “It’s a cultural thing,” he observed. So, he began talking up the idea that cloud- based applications tend to reflect best business practices from a multitude of institutions, which means Gonzaga might want to consider changing its own business practices “to really take advantage of the best practice that comes with the [cloud].” In that context, “customization” is
replaced with “configuration.”
“As we’re growing and becoming a larger, more
complex organization, there’s an increased understanding that we can’t always all go and do our own thing in isolation because it has such ramification across the institution,” Ulrichsen said. Now there’s a governance structure in place with “wide representation” from across campus that works with IT “to make sure we spend our technology resources in the most efficient and effective manner.”
Giving the Lead to Users
Getting over that hurdle was just the start. In the next stage, IT wanted to make sure it wasn’t dominating the conversation with stakeholders. That’s when the Project Management Office (PMO) took over the relay. Led by Director Stephanie Schut, who joined the staff two years ago, the PMO reached out to more than a hundred people to do interviews as part of a “requirements gathering process” on CRM requirements that would flesh out the request- for-proposals (RFP).
Users also participated in developing use cases, assessing vendor responses to the RFP, sitting through demonstrations, filling in vendor scorecards and assessing how well the responses
meshed with strategic priorities of the institution.
In an Educause presentation last fall, Schut and Ulrichsen, along with co-presenter Alex Faklis from Huron Consulting Group, which worked with Gonzaga on the CRM project, shared a slide showing how the CRM priorities aligned with the “strategic commitments.” Whenever those involved in the project faced a crossroads, they referred back to the strategic plan “to ground” themselves and bring the work back to what mattered.
As Schut explained, “When we were looking at something like, ‘Utilize a central platform across multiple channels’ and ‘Deploy strategic messaging to segmented groups,’ those were commitments to ‘academic excellence,’” which shows up as a strategic commitment.
Going through those paces, as Schut noted, made the whole process “valid” for the stakeholders. “This was their opportunity to get their voice into the product we were going to select.”
Not that IT didn’t “have a vote,” said Ulrichsen. It was his department’s job to perform a “thorough security check” and make sure the solutions used “the same authentication and infrastructure components we have in place to support the different software we have.” In other words, the university wasn’t going to allow the users to choose a CRM out in left field; it had to work with what was already in place.
Two Winners
By the end of the race, out of 10 early contenders, the university picked two CRM solutions: Slate, a tool used by Gonzaga’s undergraduate

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