Can CRM work at Ohio State? It’s a reasonable question. For starters, in an organization this big, very few initiatives are simple. And you may have heard that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives – especially at large organizations – are notorious for failing. We knew all of this when discussions first began at Ohio State, and we didn’t want to become just another statistic. After a series of meetings with key stakeholders, the main thing we learned was that we have a very broad spectrum of potential users who all have very different objectives and priorities. We knew we needed to collaborate to find a solution.
So when we began doing serious work on CRM several months ago, we sharpened our focus. First, we set a clear objective: to improve engagement by providing visibility to organizational partnerships across the university. The university has numerous partnerships with outside organizations, and it’s difficult to keep track of how many different ways any one organization is connected to Ohio State. Yet that’s one of the things that the Corporate Engagement Office was formed to achieve. This team exists to bring together the right connections at Ohio State to achieve business goals through meaningful, collaborative partnerships.
That goal was an excellent starting point for CRM, so the Corporate Engagement Office and OCIO Enterprise Applications collaborated to decide what it would take to build a system that met their needs. We reviewed numerous CRM systems that are currently on the market, and we agreed that SalesForce would offer the most useful features to meet our objectives. The collaboration has been continual and ongoing – the Corporate Engagement office is learning what they need as they go, and OCIO is building integrations with other systems for them on an ongoing basis.
“We are a big organization, but there are tools that can help us to communicate and work together more efficiently,” says Director of Business Development Edward Pauline from the Corporate Engagement Office. “We are applying SalesForce in a unique way, because we are using it to quantify Ohio State’s engagement with outside partners along with using it to drive revenue.
"OCIO helps the Corporate Engagement office use SalesForce to track activity, secure a talent pipeline, identify researchers, guide philanthropy and find new business opportunities. SalesForce will be more than just a repository of historical activity. The Corporate Engagement Office and OCIO have customized SalesForce to not only track the work associated with moving a corporate client along the engagement continuum but also to create a strategy around the next steps of engagement."
We are also working on an "elastic search," which will pull real-time engagement data from various campus systems that contain corporate research spends, philanthropic giving, commercialization, and hiring activity into one dashboard. This data summary, along with tracking engagement activity in SalesForce will ensure those involved in corporate engagement activities can provide the highest level of customer service to our internal and external partners.
This partnership identified a direction and achieved a level of success that goes far beyond what either team could have accomplished individually. Each step forward strengthens partnerships that Ohio State has with the community.