The University of Salford is a vibrant institution that’s home to nearly 20,000 students and 2,500+ staff. At the heart of the North West’s economy, the university’s vision is to connect its staff and students with local industry partners to deliver personal, economic and social benefits within every stakeholder group.
“Our ambition is to be recognised as the leading industry-aligned digital university,” says John Whitlow, who was appointed CIO in 2016 having previously led successful transformation projects in the financial and legal sectors.
“Partly, that’s about improving the technology we use so that students, academics and our industry partners can work flexibly and collaborate together with a seamless, consumer-like
“Equally, it’s also about improving the way we manage and use data to provide the right level of service and support to those groups. Previously, like most universities, we’ve had a disjointed approach to data that’s prevented us from understanding how people interact with us. Prior to our engagement with Crimson we had become sceptical about the possibilities of CRM, having not been able to utilise these platforms effectively in the past.”
Since Crimson’s appointment at the start of 2018, progress has been fast.
Phase one, which was delivered in just three months, involved working alongside Salford’s IT team to break down data silos:
“We had 17 different CRM instances across the organisation” says Whitlow. “Crimson spent time with us to sort out all the data plumbing behind the scenes and reduce that to one instance.”
Already, the marketing team is working with the CRM system to target potential course applicants more effectively. Soon, the CRM will also be rolled out to the university’s Admissions and Student Experience teams to improve support for students throughout the student lifecycle. It will also be used to support relationships with businesses, bolstering relations with local industry.
Crimson are now working on phase two of the project, which involves extracting data from Salford’s Banner student record system:
“We’re working towards a single source of the truth; around 40 different interfaces all joined up to give us one point of reference. In the private sector, this has been common for a while now. For HE, it’s a significant breakthrough.”
For Whitlow, what has been most impressive about Crimson is their commitment to agile delivery:
“Crimson are working hard to understand the needs of our stakeholders, getting them to work with early releases of the new CRM. They are then refining the solution with phased roll outs, ensuring it delivers exactly what we need.”
By enabling the university to achieve their business transformation objectives, Crimson are also having a significant financial impact:
“One of our goals is to increase student recruitment by 700 students a year” says Whitlow. “We’re already outperforming other institutions in this area with a highly targeted marketing strategy.
If our CRM continues to improve in the way it already has, we’ll achieve that objective and boost fee revenue accordingly.”
Just as importantly, the new CRM will also help to improve the overall student experience:
“The way we’re improving how we work with data will significantly enhance how we communicate with and understand our students. At a time when all universities are focused on improved student wellbeing, that’s incredibly valuable.”