If you work in higher ed, you probably know that information isn’t always collected in the most efficient way. Paper forms, PDF forms, spreadsheets, and a handful of other data collection tools might be responsible for collecting information across campus, but it’s not really the ideal method.
Why? Information could fall through the cracks, time gets wasted transferring information from one place to another, and there’s more work involved with managing multiple data collection solutions.
With FormAssembly, you can get rid of all that and start connecting information between systems you use in a more streamlined way. FormAssembly is a powerful data collection platform that can satisfy your need to create surveys, payment forms, alumni contact update forms, and pretty much any other form you can think of.
Need more great reasons to use FormAssembly for higher education in particular? Here are 10.
1. Our Powerful Salesforce Integration
Many higher education institutions use Salesforce to connect with their constituents, including students, alumni, and faculty. Salesforce serves many institutions of higher learning and launched a dedicated Education Cloud in March 2018.
If your institution is one of the many using Salesforce, it’s a no-brainer to use a form platform that integrates with Salesforce so you can save time by sending information directly to your CRM system.
FormAssembly’s Salesforce integration allows users to:
- Create and update Salesforce records
- Prefill forms with student or alumni information
- Give constituents the ability to update their own data
- Integrate with TaskRay to create tasks in Salesforce
- Activate Salesforce checkboxes and send attachments to Salesforce
- Read more about our Salesforce integration in our eBook.
FormAssembly Higher Education Customer Voices
“We have several projects where we needed to be able to connect to Salesforce and prefill forms and distribute those unique links to folks across campus. We didn’t want a platform where we had to create yet another database where people have to log-in to access the information that we need them to update. FormAssembly was pretty flexible for that purpose.”
– Adam Skoczylas, Program Manager for the Center for Educational Outreach, University of Michigan
“The fact that it directly writes into Salesforce, and that you can query the Salesforce database to prefill a survey… makes it easier for so many people on our team.”
– Jonathan Maher, Director of Systems Analysis, Fresno Pacific University
2. Improve Data Governance
The number six issue on Educause’s list of top IT issues for higher education in 2017 was data governance. According to TechTarget, the definition of data governance is “the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data employed in an enterprise.” Benefits of data governance are considerable; Oracle sums them up as “data with improved quality, easier access, and managed and auditable security.”
After reading that, look at your own institution. Is data governance a priority? If so, how well are you progressing toward your goals? A centralized online form platform like FormAssembly can be a key aspect of your data governance activities because it allows you to collect data with one tool and oversee what data your forms are collecting, whether it’s being collected properly, and what’s being done with it (e.g. are you using a Salesforce connector to send the information to you CRM?).
To further reinforce how helpful a form platform can be for attaining great data governance, think of the alternative. Say you had a tool for collecting prospective student information, a tool for processing alumni information, a tool for gathering student and faculty feedback and so on. With so many different entry points for data it becomes harder and harder to keep track of data consistency and completeness and avoid data being lost or underutilized.
3. Easily Administer Surveys
Surveys, especially anonymous ones, can be incredibly telling for universities, like one particular survey was for St. Edwards University. In 2016, a psychology professor at the Texas university conducted a survey and found that over half of the student population, 3.4 percent of staff, and 1.6 percent of faculty, were experiencing some degree of food insecurity, meaning they didn’t always have a clear idea of where their next meal would come from.
The professor that conducted the survey said he considered this a starting point for further talks on how to help members of their community struggling with food insecurity. That’s one example of a school uncovering key information about their faculty and students through a survey that they might not have found out otherwise.
It’s clear that surveys uncover valuable information, and there are several studies showing that online surveys are more preferred, and may collect more valuable, more complete data than paper surveys administered through the mail. In some studies, they have also been shown to have a better response rate.
Surveys are simple and intuitive to create with FormAssembly, and options like the Likert Scale are perfect for gathering feedback on a scale.
FormAssembly Case Study: University of Michigan
University of Michigan runs a faculty survey that previously relied on paper forms.
“It was an administrative nightmare for the groups pulling it together, but it also didn’t offer a very nice user experience for one of the more vocal and important groups on campus, the faculty group.” – Adam Skoczylas, Program Manager for the Center for Educational Outreach, University of Michigan
They moved their faculty survey process to FormAssembly and it’s already streamlined their work, even though they’re still in the testing phase.
4. Get Multiple Campuses Onboarded With One Powerful Tool
University systems often comprise many different campuses. The University of North Carolina, for example, has 17 different campus locations.
Our Enterprise and Compliance Cloud plans (which start at 3 users) can bring different users under the same administrative umbrella and give access to our admin controls, which allow form administrators to set access for individual users and monitor forms that are being created. Read more about the admin abilities here.
The University of Michigan uses a total of four different FormAssembly implementations across their three campuses, and 15 total units use FormAssembly.
5. Meet Student Expectations for Technology
Today’s students grew up immersed in technology, and that trend shows signs of continuing. The average child gets their first mobile device at just over 10 years old, according to a 2016 study; and 6-year-old children have greater understanding of digital technology than do 45-year-old adults, according to a 2014 OfCom study. Students expect their institution to be just as advanced as they are. There are multiple components to a technologically advanced campus, and web forms can help you achieve some of those.
For instance, in today’s on-demand, instant gratification society, it’s hard to justify the need for students to wait in line to fill out paper forms, then wait more to get whatever permissions those forms are granting. Web forms let you create student-focused data collection that fits with their busy schedule and reduces the stress and work for administrators.
FormAssembly Case Study: Dominican University’s Parking Permit Forms
Dominican University, a private institution in Illinois, required students to apply for parking permits with paper forms and a process that required them to wait in line for up to 90 minutes just to get their permit. With a predicted 3,000 parking permits to be issued for the year, the University new they had to find a better solution.
Switching to FormAssembly cut down the wait time for permits from an hour and a half to a max of 5 minutes. Here’s a quote from Adam Smeets, Director of University Information Systems, on the student benefit of this and other FormAssembly web forms they were able to implement across campus.
“We’re thrilled that they’re getting the information they need in a timely fashion resulting in faster, and accurate, decisions and outcomes.”
6. Process Payments and Donations With Tools You Already Use
Donations, alumni or otherwise, provide a considerable source of income for many institutions. Stanford University raised over $951 million in 2016, Harvard raised $1.19 billion, and total charitable donations to U.S. colleges and universities amounted to $41 billion, according to the Council for Aid to Education.
While there are multiple factors that go into a charitable giving strategy, having a simple way to securely collect payments is one of them.
7. Connect to Your Google Sheets
If you work in higher education, there’s a good chance that your department uses a Google product. In a 2012 blog post, Google noted that 72 of the top 100 universities in the U.S. as well as 7 of the 8 Ivy League Universities used Google Apps for Education.
You’ll be happy to learn that FormAssembly provides a simple way for users to connect data collected through FormAssembly forms to their Google Sheets with our Google Spreadsheets connector.
8. Connect With Prospective Students
At a university there’s a need not only to connect with current students and faculty, but also to open lines of communication with prospective students and job applicants. More and more, students are turning to online methods to find and research colleges they are considering.
Web forms can be an entry point on your website, primed and ready to collect interested student information and store it in your database. If you don’t have a way to capture and catalog information for easy follow up, you risk missing out on driven, high-potential students for your institution.
Case Study Example: Maryville University uses web forms to drive recruitment efforts by using engaging memes, conditional logic, and interactive questions.
9. Gain Visibility Into Student Data
Most students (77 percent, according to a 2016 Wakefield Research survey) want their school to make good use of their data to improve their time in college.
But to get the most use out of student data, you have to have a plan for collecting it and storing it in a centralized location. When you use multiple data collection tools, information is dispersed across multiple locations with no connection between them, and managing and using that information is a haphazard process at best.
FormAssembly allows you to gather student information and response for multiple different use cases and store it in Salesforce. This way, you don’t have to go hunting for a piece of information when it comes time to apply the data you’ve collected to improving the student experience.
10. Lock Up Form Access With Authentication Options
Information security was Educause’s number one issue for higher education IT team, which shouldn’t be a surprise to professionals in education and other disciplines with hackers and hacking techniques becoming increasingly more sophisticated, there are more opportunities for institutions to be vulnerable to attacks.
As part of our larger goal of keeping users and their data safe, we provide respondent authentication options including iATS, LDAP and CAS on our Enterprise and Compliance Cloud plans.
Ready to try FormAssembly for your university or college? Pick a plan and sign up today.