Macquarie University’s CIO Marc Bailey mantra is “cloud first, open source best” so it’s not surprising that he has rolled out open source customer relationship management (CRM) — SugarCRM — as part of a $2 million four year contract.
Known internally by academic staff as Tracker, the SugarCRM system is currently being used to manage relationships with more than 44,000 Australian and international students. Macquarie University departments using Tracker include student management services, community engagement, global programs, international agents and the graduate school of management.
“Although there are off-the-shelf CRM solutions available, open source is the key for us because it means we can take a variable level of risk and customisation,” Bailey told CIO Australia.
His preference for open source and cloud-based systems also comes down to reducing complexity and costs.
“We don’t necessarily want to own any hardware or maintain software if we can help it,” he said.
According to Bailey, Tracker has replaced “spreadsheets, paper and confusion.”
When he took up the CIO post at Macquarie University in 2009, nine different groups were thinking about implementing their own CRM systems.
However, Bailey said this would have led to nine different CRM portals and potential difficulties for students trying to reach the right department when enrolling at the university.
With Tracker, instead of having to access a different website every time they have enquiry, students now use the Ask Macquarie website to get in touch with all departments.
“Behind the scenes, many parts of the university are directly involved in the SugarCRM system and even those that aren’t, calls get routed via the CRM system and their responses come back to the student,” he said.
While Tracker has been introduced to most of Macquarie's departments, there are plans to focus on prospective students who have enquiries about enrolling at the university.
“Attracting new students with marketing oriented campaigns is also a big interest for us. We already do some targeted international email campaigns and have an extensive relationship with our local feeder high schools,” he said.
In addition, Bailey wants to introduce Tracker for post-graduate researchers and students so they can be put in touch with the right academics when doing their research.
Going hand in hand with CRM at the University is social networking through Twitter (6745 followers) and Facebook (165,000 'likes').
The campus has been running Google mail and its associated applications since 2007 with 190,000 Google accounts used by both staff and students.
“We are entirely based in the cloud so all the students can access Google Hangouts and Drive,” Bailey said.
“When it comes to student interactions we need to have a strategy that crosses email, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus as a minimum.”
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick