WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 30, 2014) —The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) announces today the release of a new report that shines light on how higher education institutions use Constituent Relationship Management systems (CRMs) to support students throughout their postsecondary journeys.

As colleges are under increasing pressure to support the diverse needs of students, CRM can support an institution’s understanding of student enrollment choices, retention, and overall achievement. AACRAO’s 2014-2015 State of CRM Use in Higher Education Report, which was conducted among more than 600 enrollment management and admissions professionals, was designed to measure the extent of ownership of CRM applications at higher ed institutions and to assess their impacts on practice, policy, and staffing.

“We are passionate about providing our members with resources to make a broader impact on student success at their institutions,” said Wendy Kilgore, AACRAO director of research and managing consultant. “This report is intended to develop a baseline understanding of how institutions are leveraging their CRMs today, so that we can support the strategic use of relationship management and data to ensure the success of all students throughout their entire education.”

Eighty percent of respondents reported seeing increased practice efficiency with the use of CRMs—including efficiencies in advising, alumni/development, registration, and student support service.

However, despite the increased efficiency reported, two-thirds of respondents indicated that their institution is not maximizing the use of their CRM. Roadblocks to “maximizing the use” of CRM include having enough time for training and implementation as well as a lack of human capital to manage the system and its processes.

Other key findings include:

  • Implementation of CRMs has a significant influence on changes in practice and staffing. Eighty-two percent of respondents indicated there had been changes in practice; 59 percent indicated there had been changes in staffing.
  • CRMs are most likely to be used to support admissions and recruiting. Fifty-six percent of respondents indicated use of the CRM for both functions; Career Services was the least likely to be supported by a CRM.
  • Few institutions (only 3 percent) are using their CRM to provide student lifecycle management support.
  • Higher ed institutions are not fully integrating their CRM data with their Student Information System (SIS) data. Only one-third of users have all of the data they need for analysis and planning imported into their SIS. Forty-eight percent indicated that, “Yes, some of the data we need” is being shared, while 14% indicated data was not being shared.
  • The majority of respondents (59 percent) indicated their institutions have only been “Moderately successful” in the overall use of the CRM. Three percent reported their use “Not Successful.”


This survey, which was sponsored by Hobsons, is one of the first of its kind to paint a picture of the impact of CRM use on higher education practice, policy and staffing in the United States. Further in-depth research is needed to offer insight on the nuances of use and to provide recommendations for how institutions can support the full student lifecycle using CRM.  Results from the survey will serve as a baseline of information for future research and assessments on this trend.

To provide feedback, contact Wendy Kilgore at research@aacrao.org.

To download the full report visit www4.aacrao.org/t/StateofCRM.


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