Our Work In Practice
RHB and Dalhousie University align undergraduate and graduate admissions through ambitious Slate implementation
When institutions approach RHB for a Slate implementation, it often involves more than building forms, creating emails and releasing decisions. Dalhousie University reached out in June 2022 with an ambitious but calculated approach to setting up a new solution that would serve undergraduate and graduate admissions, as well as the institution’s unique relationship with University of King’s College (for 100 years, the two institutions have existed independently but are geographically close and students can take courses and use the facilities of both institutions depending on their academic needs).
In the summer of 2022, Dalhousie engaged RHB to provide an organizational, process and technical roadmap for the implementation of Technolutions Slate. Three RHB team members representing our Enrollment Management and Slate and Related Technology practices spent several days on campus, engaging representatives from the Registrar’s Office; Communications, Marketing and Creative Services; Graduate Studies; Information Technology Services; and King’s College. This collaborative and transparent experience allowed our team to educate Dalhousie on the possibilities within Slate while remaining mindful of the challenges posed by transitioning from a deeply embedded homegrown system that would require transformative process changes and role definition.
A component of our assessment for Dalhousie University included readiness for change. While our team heard enthusiasm for the opportunity, many conversations were laced with the expected anxiety an undertaking of this magnitude can create. Teams at Dalhousie are composed of an abundance of high-end process managers who also excel at the important human connection component of enrollment management. But these teams were handcuffed by a current state that didn’t allow them to use those strengths to best serve students fully. In this respect, our goal for implementation design centered on best-practice operational efficiencies that would automate more than 60 percent of their current processes and streamline multi-step (and multi-system) processes to, in many cases, one or two steps due to strategic automation. Additionally, because of its existing structure, the Registrar’s Office couldn’t collaborate at the desired level with Communications, Marketing and Creative Services. Our focus here was to prescribe an implementation approach that would bring these units together in shaping a strategy that would be managed and executed directly in Slate. By educating key players in both units on the possibilities of Slate and, helping them understand gaps in current processes, RHB was able to develop recommendations that will provide long-term sustainability on the communications front and greater visibility into student and family relationships with interactions automatically recorded within Slate. As expected, a portion of this initial engagement was also designed to provide recommendations on systems management and general governance. When presented with multiple stakeholders, our recommendations on governance embed every conversation to ensure that the solutions we eventually deploy can be managed appropriately and decisively in a way that ensures data integrity. For this project, our discussions also included recommendations on the sequence of implementation. During our conversations with graduate studies, it was determined that the decentralized nature of the organization required significantly more investment in understanding the current state of their processes, other tools they use and how their team was structured. To aid with that, in addition to garnering buy-in from faculty, RHB made the recommendation to first implement Slate for undergraduate programs as a model from which graduate studies could assess opportunity and change.
RHB provided two reports to Dalhousie: Organizational Assessment and Change Management Findings, and a three-year implementation roadmap for Technolutions Slate that would propel the institution from a year one foundation to a year three advanced configuration. Combined, these tools laid the foundation for the strategic implementation of Slate that began in October 2022. Dalhousie’s implementation roadmaps encompass far more than a foundational implementation of Slate, including custom portal experiences, specific workflows, engagement scoring, integrations and advanced reporting. “We feel incredibly empowered to move forward with implementation,” said Erica Zwicker, the Dalhousie University project lead. “The work RHB does–and the way they do it–is exemplary.”
“We feel incredibly empowered to move forward with implementation, … The work RHB does–and the way they do it–is exemplary.”
—Erica Zwicker, the Dalhousie University project lead