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Salesforce Advisor Link (SAL) is incredibly powerful and can be game-changing for student success at your higher education institution. As with any technology implementation, the more planning and preparation you do before you begin, the more successful your implementation will be. It’s important that you understand how SAL will affect your existing systems, people and processes before you get started. Here are five key questions that your institution should answer before implementing SAL.

1. Are you already using Salesforce to manage student data?

Your answer to this question will help determine your pathway to success with Salesforce Advisor Link. SAL is built on the Salesforce Education Cloud and uses a data model (EDA or HEDA) that is optimized to deliver a 360-degree view of your students. 

If you’re already using Salesforce to manage student data for things like recruiting or admissions, then your path to success will likely involve connecting SAL to your existing instance of Salesforce.

If you’re using Salesforce to manage fundraising or development but NOT using it to manage student data, then your path to success will depend on the specific version of Salesforce you’re using and its underlying data model. You’ll want to consult with an implementation partner to help determine your best option. You may need to implement a new instance of Salesforce, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Sometimes it’s actually easier to start with a “clean” instance than to migrate from an older version that was designed for a different purpose.

2. What data from other systems do advisors need in SAL?

One of the reasons that Salesforce solutions are so powerful is that they are built on an open platform that can integrate with other information systems. This is particularly important for student success, where it’s critical for advisors to have a complete view of each advisee that includes data from the SIS, enrollment system, etc.

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Talk to your advising team to understand what information they would like to see in SAL that would enable them to make a bigger impact on student success. Make a list of each individual piece of information and note where that data currently resides. Your implementation partner can help you decide how best to get the data into Salesforce and present it on-screen to your advisors.

3. What technologies support your advisors' calendars?

One of the most compelling benefits of SAL is the ability to simplify and streamline the scheduling of advising appointments. Salesforce utilizes a calendar sync tool called Riva Cloud to sync your advisors’ existing calendars to SAL. This allows advisors to continue using the calendar interface they know (for example, Outlook 365, Google), and makes those calendars more easily available to students via SAL.

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Riva Cloud offers a lot of flexibility, and you’ll want to document your existing calendar solution(s) to help your implementation partner properly scope out this part of the project.

4. When do you (NOT) want to go live?

Of course you want to go live as soon as possible! There are times, however, when you may not want to introduce a new system into an already hectic process. For example, introducing a new advising system right before fall classes begin or during your busiest registration period can be risky. While it may be hard to define an ideal go-live date several months in advance, it’s perfectly acceptable to define some “black-out” periods during your most critical advising windows.

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As you consider the availability of your teams, make sure you understand how much time will be asked of them prior to going live. Some or all of your users will need to be available to support discovery, user acceptance testing (UAT) and training. The success of your SAL implementation will depend on the ability of your teams to contribute their time and expertise at the right times.

5. Who goes first?

Depending on the size and complexity of your advising teams, you might consider phasing in your use of SAL. A few things to consider are:

  • How many advisors (users) will you have? 
  • Could you support go-live with all your advising teams at the same time?
  • Are there groups of advisors who have unique or distinct sets of requirements for SAL?  I.e. - academic advisors vs financial advisors vs career advisors.
  • Are there groups of students who have unique requirements for SAL, like online-only students or students in a specific program or college?
  • Do your advising teams have different technology skill sets and training requirements?
  • If you phase in your SAL implementation, would you prefer to start with the easiest group or the most complex group?  

There are advantages and disadvantages of using a phased approach. The right approach is the one that best matches the needs of the advisors, IT support team and students at your institution.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re ready to get started implementing SAL and you’re able to answer each of the questions above, KELL Partners can help. We’ve helped hundreds of higher education institutions go farther and faster with Salesforce. Contact us today!