Dr. Debra Pozega Osburn (PhD) is vice-president, University Relations. (Photo: Dave Stobbe)

Engagement project right on track

A new state-of-the-art information system designed to streamline and enhance engagement with University of Saskatchewan (USask) students, alumni, donors and stakeholders is on pace to go live in the summer of 2020.

“We are on track,” said Dr. Debra Pozega Osburn (PhD), vice-president, University Relations. “We are moving well in terms of building and implementing the system, and will soon move into the training and the testing. I would say that mid-July to early-August is when you would see us going live, and that’s well within the timelines we expected.”

The establishment of the new relationship management system, specifically designed for post-secondary institutions, is a $3.6-million project that started in the fall of 2018. The system features three applications implemented in three stages: recruitment, student retention and success, and alumni and donors.

“When it comes to the kind of relationship tracking infrastructure that you need at the modern university, this is an essential project,” said Pozega Osburn. “Your relationship management system is one of the most important initiatives for you to get right. It’s really, really critical that we relate to our stakeholders in new ways and in the kind of ways that our stakeholders expect us to engage with them. A relationship management system of the type that we are putting in allows us to do exactly that.”

The new system will centralize and co-ordinate information to avoid duplication, saving time and money. One of the other big benefits will be to address the issue of donor fatigue, by streamlining and limiting contact with current and future donors and alumni by better pinpointing projects that they want to support the university on in future fundraising campaigns, as well as volunteer and mentoring initiatives.

“It allows us to have a deeper understanding of what’s motivating alumni, donors, corporate partners and others, to partner with us,” said Pozega Osburn. “How can we understand their interests in a way that allows us to build and sustain these mutually beneficial relationships? The right relationship management system helps us do that.”

In University Relations, the new Blackbaud system will replace the outdated UFriend database that has been in place for decades. As with any data system, security is critical and will feature enhanced safeguards.

“Across the university, we work every day to ensure that all of the records that are held by the university are as safe as possible,” said Pozega Osburn. “We continuously improve systems and undertake additional training to ensure the highest possible level of safety and security for all the information held at the university.”

With the new relationship management system now just months away from going live, Pozega Osburn said front-line staff are excited about the potential and the possibilities it provides.

“For people who do this kind of work, engaging with stakeholders and engaging with external communities in the way that we do, it’s exciting to see new systems brought into place that can help us really accomplish our goals of connecting with people,” Pozega Osburn said. “There is nothing more important than staying connected with people and this system will help us forge the best relationships we possibly can.”

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