Managing Student Lifecycle on Salesforce: From Excel Spreadsheets to the Education Cloud

The Client

Artificial Intelligence and robots are going to replace most of the jobs we know today. Red & Yellow Creative Business School (Red & Yellow) is the business school where talented people go to develop the career skills they need to thrive in this digital world. The Creative School of Business provides students with the commercial logic to grow successful organizations and more importantly the creative magic to set them apart.

Located in South Africa, Red & Yellow believe creative thinking is the most important skill of the future and it must be supported by uniquely human abilities such as leadership, adaptability and social intelligence. They are teaching the great creators, inventors, leaders and entrepreneurs for the 21st Century.

The Challenges

Only Using Salesforce for a Portion of the Student Lifecycle

Before seeking Cloud for Good’s help, Red & Yellow utilized Salesforce to help track prospective students in Sales Cloud. Adding them in as leads, they would then be qualified and an opportunity created. They could then apply the cost of attendance to the contact and track money coming in from Admissions.

Since Red & Yellow were operating in different systems, they didn’t have the full picture of the student lifecycle, making it difficult to help evaluate student success metrics and course payment information. They relied on heavy Excel and Access manipulation to find data spread throughout different places and systems. Realizing the impact that Salesforce has had on their recruitment and admission process, they wanted to bring their academic and sponsorship information into the cloud from Excel.

Wanted the Education Data Architecture (EDA)

As Red & Yellow looked to bring in more data surrounding their student’s lifecycles, they downloaded EDA off the Salesforce AppExchange. EDA is a community-driven, open-source data architecture built to configure Salesforce specifically for educational institutions.

Once they installed EDA into their Sales Cloud, new admin accounts and templates were deployed that Red & Yellow weren’t ready to utilize. They transformed their system already in use for marketing and admissions but didn’t optimize it to encompass the extended platform management they were looking for.

Department of Higher Education and Training Compliance

Adding to the complexity of the situation, Red & Yellow are regulated by the Department of Higher Education and Training Compliance. According to the South African Protection of Personal Information Act, much of their student data needed to live behind a password-protected system.

“Red & Yellow believes in preparing our students for the 21st century, it only made sense that we bring our technology to the future as well,” said Nikki Cockcroft, former CEO of Red & Yellow Creative Business School. “We want to provide the best support for our students in an efficient and compliant way. Making the decision to bring the entire student lifecycle onto Salesforce was the intuitive next step.”

The Solution

With EDA newly installed on their instance of Sales Cloud, Red & Yellow approached Cloud for Good based on their years of experience within the sector. “Cloud for Good understood the Higher Education sector and was able to provide best practices based on their previous experience with educational institutions,” said Richelle Chapman, Head of Marketing Technology for Red & Yellow Creative Business School. “They were able to preserve our existing use case and help us maximize the Education Cloud.”

The Education Cloud – Education Data Architecture (EDA)

When Red & Yellow approached Cloud for Good, they had recently installed EDA into their system. Cloud for Good was able to quickly make recommendations and help refine their processes to optimize the account to manage every step of the student lifecycle process, including:

Recruitment & Admissions

Since Red & Yellow were already utilizing Salesforce for their recruitment and admission process, Cloud for Good was able to help maximize the efficiency and optimize their processes for EDA.

Their admissions process begins when someone is interested in attending Red & Yellow. When they fill out a form on their website and are immediately added into the system as a lead. Once they qualify the lead further, they convert the lead to a prospect, with an associated opportunity for the cost of the degree or courses they are pursuing. Once the opportunity is secured (meaning the student has officially enrolled), it is marked as closed-won.

Student Enrollment

Red & Yellow have a very specific track that their students must follow to obtain their certificate or degree. Once a student has enrolled in the school, a program enrollment record is created. This record follows the student through their time at Red & Yellow. It houses all their enrollment information, such as degree-seeking, modules and courses assigned to that degree, marks they’ve received in those courses and financial information.

“Cloud for Good helped us customize EDA to work for our specific education needs. The consultant worked closely with our team to deliver custom objects and fields that allowed us to manage our student enrollment information based on our needs. We didn’t have to change our processes to fit the software,” said Cockcroft.

Every degree programs have specific modules that the student must complete in order to be awarded their final certificate. Each module may have components, or courses, that all factor into the student completing the module. Adding to the complexity, it is possible that programs won’t have modules, or that the modules won’t have separate components depending on if the student is taking the courses on campus, off-campus or online. It is also possible for each student to have multiple enrollment records (all related to the same contact), should a student come back for an additional degree or certificate.

Specific information such as what term the student took the course was also rolled up into their academic record, giving Red & Yellow an incredible amount of information to report on.

Student Success

In addition to the specific programs, modules and components, Red & Yellow wanted to be able to track the student’s success within the platform. They were able to track the student marks directly on the enrollment record.

“We are now able to run a report mid-year and assess student success. We want every student to be successful. With the Education Cloud, we can now track if a student is struggling and get them the help they need before the term ends,” said Cockcroft.

Financial Tracking

In order to bring the full student lifecycle into Salesforce, Cloud for Good helped Red & Yellow set up a way to manage their financial record keeping in Salesforce. From basic cost of a degree and student payment information to scholarship or corporate sponsorship – all this information is related directly back to the student record.

The best part is, all this information is fully reportable. Red & Yellow can now create reports to track outstanding payments and overall payment history.

Custom Formulas for Data Extraction

In keeping with South African higher education regulations, Cloud for Good also worked on creating an easy way to load and transform the student data so that it can be directly uploaded into the South African compliance systems.

“Our Cloud for Good consultant created custom formulas on the contact record to help automate the process of reporting back to the South African compliance boards. Things like codes types for students are automatically created, saving our IT team countless hours of Excel manipulation,” said Dan.

The Results

360-Degree View of Students

By creating custom objects and fields built on top of EDA, Red & Yellow can now see a full 360-degree view of their students during their time at Red & Yellow.

“Bringing the entire student lifecycle into Salesforce has enabled Red & Yellow to better understand our students. Whether it is defining the markers for student success or understanding why students are interested in Red & Yellow, we now have the data to support our anecdotal claims,” said Chapman.

More Insight into Student Success

With program and enrollment information brought into Salesforce, Red & Yellow are now able to identify the characteristics of student success. If a student has certain marks by mid-semester, or if they haven’t completed a certain amount of modules since they’ve enrolled, Red & Yellow can be proactive in recommending additional assistance to the students who need it most.

Financial Tracking for More Timely Payments

When looking to consolidate their finances, Red & Yellow can pull a report in Salesforce to show them which payments are outstanding, how much scholarship dollars have been awarded in a given calendar year or which students have a track record of on-time payments.

“Using Salesforce to track student financial information has decreased the time we need to spend on payment follow up. We can simply pull a report of all outstanding payments instead of searching through deposit slips and excel documents,” Cockcroft said.

“Working with Cloud for Good was the difference we needed to turn our system into a Student Information System (SIS). The consultant we worked with understood the nuanced needs of the education sector and made recommendations on customization that will ultimately help Red & Yellow run more effectively,” Chapman said.