About 5 months ago we flipped the switch on our athletics recruitment system for Lehigh. At the time. this was the largest project we had ever undertaken. I'm proud to report that it's been a fantastic success.
The system. if you're not all that familiar with it. is basically a CRM platform for coaches and athletics staff to track everything about their prospective student athletes. Now that Princeton and Harvard are twisting the landscape by removing Early Decision from the recruiter's toolbox (it was almost necessary to lock in the best recruits). doing better information gathering and communication management is critical. Lehigh is ready for whatever may happen (which right now looks like no change) now that they have the tools to manage a more effective recruiting process.
One good (but qualitative) measure of how well RecruitWeb is doing is by looking at what the coaches are saying. They LOVE it! The wrestling coach. Greg Strobel (a big name in the wrestling world). absolutely loves how easy it is to use. He's sent me email while he's on vacation. telling us how great it is that he can work on recruiting from the porch. All of them love that they can now work on recruiting from home. from the road. from their desk...all because it's finally a web-accessible solution. Plus. there have been no real usability issues. We dumped a lot of Ajax into this system to make it responsive and provide immediate feedback to the user. It's worked out really well.
The quantitative measures are interesting too. To comply with NCAA regulations regarding student athletes. you need to keep track of every contact you have with a prospect. Since we went live. over 50.000 contacts have been logged across a variety of means (email. letter. phone calls. visits. etc.). That's an unbelieveable amount of activity for a fairly small athletics program!
Any current CRM product is necessarily email focused. This system does use email extensively - but thankfully the coaches aren't going nuts with it. Last time we checked about 1800 email messages had been sent to groups anywhere from one to 800 potential recruits. Approximately 8000 recruits were the intended recipients of email messages during that timeframe. We track who's sending what. log the impressions and clickthroughs. and make sure that the email is logged against the recruit's record as well. It works great and they like that they don't have to worry about design - we take care of all of that for them. The ability to schedule messages for later delivery has come in handy on MANY occasions.
The one "killer feature" that the coaches love is the ability to create new data fields as they see fit for their sports. Instead of one big database that holds everything for everybody or a separate table for each sport's info. we went the "tall" route and swiped the concept of tags from the Web 2.0 world. Tags can stand alone or have values assigned to them (yep. the old "name-value pair" approach). It's been presented in a format that is very familiar to them and what a difference it has made - we transitioned to this system and as their needs evolve. they are able to adjust their data model themselves. Completely worth the effort. Several hundred tags have been created across all sports. Tags have been applied over 10.000 times to football recruits alone - it's pretty clear that some sports have more substantial needs than others!
Naturally. storing all this information is only half of the equation. The other half is getting it back out. The list generation tools that Matt built are really. honestly about as user-friendly as they can be. This isn't an Access query builder - this is much easier to use. Try it out! Go to our labs site. click on RecruitWeb. then "Lists". "Create new List". and once you save some basic info click "Edit list constraints".
All output is driven by these lists. Some sports have 30-40 lists. all broken down by different criteria. Coaches are one click away from emailing these recruits. making a mass note on all of their records or dumping out selected data for use in mail merges or similar things.
We consider this one to be a pretty big success for Lehigh. They're in this thing all the time and it's made their recruiting much more efficient and effective. We're really happy with it!
Oh. and for the geeks: it's currently running on Windows Server 2003 (works just as well on Linux). powered by ColdFusion MX 7.0.2. Built using Mach-ii and cfAjax. Integrated with Active Directory (but easily changed to suit any environment) and in Lehigh's case there's a pipeline to SCT Banner for sharing data with admissions.