When a college or university is using an outdated, unreliable student information system, it limits the school’s ability to function efficiently and effectively. A new technology partner can help. An integrated student information system organizes data, allows users to access the most accurate information, produces more reliable information, and improves operations across campus. That’s exactly what Huntingdon College, a small private college in Montgomery, Ala., wanted and needed.
After struggling with an outdated student information system, Huntingdon curated a wishlist for a new system. The school wanted a modern, integrated system with a user-friendly portal, customizable workflows, and cloud-based storage. The SIS would serve all critical departments, including admissions, the registrar, and financial aid, and support students, faculty, administrators, and staff. A responsive technology partner with top-notch customer and technical support also topped the list.
After considering several providers, Campus Cafe Software’s integrated, cloud-based SIS fits the bill.
“When you go with a company that is aligned with your value and your size, they pay the right amount of attention to you,” explained Anneliese Spaeth, the school’s VP of technology and a math professor who spearheaded the search and implementation of the new system.
The path to a new SIS
Huntingdon currently enrolls about 1,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The school plans to expand its student population and add graduate programs in the coming years. Huntingdon needed an SIS to support its current needs and flex as it grows.
By early 2020, it was clear the school’s previous SIS wasn’t meeting its needs. Users said the interface was clunky and hard to navigate. The system lacked an integrated customer relationship management system to track communications and set alerts, which is particularly helpful for the admissions, financial aid, and registrar departments.
The old system was plagued by other limitations too. It didn’t offer third-party software integrations, required on-site servers, and couldn’t support remote access for users to log in from mobile devices and off-campus computers. Notably, the technical and customer support was slow to respond to tickets and troubleshoot problems.
In the end, Spaeth said, Huntingdon didn’t just need a new SIS; The school required a technology partner to implement a new system and be vested in its success.
How Campus Cafe provided workable solutions
When it came time to shop around, Spaeth wanted an integrated, cloud-based system, and most new solutions offered that feature. Beyond that, finding the right match was challenging. Some companies offered a dizzying array of choices and customizations with hefty price tags, while others were too limited in scope and service.
Campus Cafe Software stood apart, Spaeth said. It featured a clean, intuitive design, could support third-party integrations, and could be customized to meet Huntingdon’s needs, such as building admissions workflows and searchable databases. The technical support and company executives were accessible and responsive.
“The software hits that middle ground,” she says. “It offers enough functionality that we can breathe a little bit, do what we need to do, and also have some choices, but not too many where we’d have difficulty with some offices that wouldn’t understand how the system works.”
Here’s how Campus Cafe delivered on Huntingdon’s wish list of features — and more.
Improved admissions workflow: Information from admissions flows to all the other departments, so Huntingdon’s team created custom workflows and activities so that data is properly entered, stored, sorted, and analyzed. Now, all users can search and sort that data.
Simplified registration: Scheduling workflows ensure students register for the right classes to satisfy their major requirements. Registrars can upload student schedules and sort data within the system.
Reduced IT burden: Campus Cafe’s cloud-based systems removed the need for on-site servers and hardware, which were costly to maintain and required servicing. Campus Cafe remotely handles all updates, maintenance, and security scans on the cloud.
Better training: Before Huntingdon went live with its new SIS, Campus Cafe provided off-site and on-site training and tailored sessions for different user groups.
Streamlined back-office operations: With reliable data that is integrated and accessible, the business office and registrar can access information quickly and send notifications and alerts to students, including notifications about courses, bills, and financial aid.
Responsive technical support: Campus Cafe’s technical support team is readily available to troubleshoot problems and quickly find answers to questions. Spaeth says they’re “extremely responsive” and react quickly on nights and weekends.
A like-minded technology partner: Campus Cafe offers decades of experience in higher ed technology but also prides itself on highly personalized service. Spaeth said that also distinguishes the company from its competitors. She can easily reach company executives to talk through issues or ideas.
After two years on Campus Cafe, Spaeth said she receives very few inquiries for help and that most users report positive experiences. Departments across campus utilize the software and note that data is accurate and accessible, making their work more efficient and increasing collaboration.
The feedback affirms Spaeth’s choice for a new SIS.
“Campus Cafe is the right fit for us,” she said.
Click here for the full case study of Huntingdon College’s move to Campus Cafe.