Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)



In early 2023, JMU selected an enterprise Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) platform that will be implemented university-wide. The selected CRM platform will provide specific functionality to support Advancement, Advising/Student Success, and Admissions functions, as well as deliver additional universal capabilities for departments across campus. Through the RFP process, JMU selected Salesforce as our CRM platform and Huron Consulting Group as our implementation partner.

CRM Goals:

  1. Achieve a unified, 360-degree view of each constituent's engagement with JMU.
  2. Give constituents self-service capabilities such as creating a case to ask a question, personalizing communication preferences, and reviewing their giving history.
  3. Increase opportunities to use data to pro-actively improve students' ability to succeed, support our constituents, and drive decisions.
  4. Realize operational efficiency at all levels of the university.
  5. Streamline the creation, management, distribution, efficacy, and visibility for communications with all JMU constituents.

We've included additional CRM information and details specific to JMU's implementation in the sections below. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

CRM Information

A Constituent Relationship Management system (or often called "Customer Relationship Management" in the business world) is used to manage an institutions relationships and interactions with their constituents and potential constituents. At JMU, this will include groups such as current students, applicants, alumni, campus partners, employees, and affiliates. Implementing a CRM platform is vital to centralize and streamline all individuals' interactions with the university, across all functional areas. The CRM platform will also function as a central hub for the data collected, to reduce data silos across the institution and to streamline automated data processes.

The implementation of the CRM platform came about from the growing need to unify constituent data into a single source of truth, and to deliver a personalized experience at scale across the entire education journey. Currently there are a myriad of systems across campus where information is collected and housed, leading to institutional inefficiencies where interactions are being counted twice, not at all, or inconsistently. This leads to a fractured understanding of an individual's experience, scattered across separate data systems, resulting in missed opportunities for us as an institution to best assist our constituents. The CRM platform will serve to centralize this knowledge, drastically reducing the data silo issues, while also automating complex business processes to allow us to better fulfill JMU’s mission. 


  • Staff and administrators will have a 360-degree view of all constituents including a full picture of their relationship with the university (applicant, student, parent, alumni, employee, BOV member, etc.) 
  • Data in the CRM will be secure and appropriate access controls for staff will be in place 
  • The CRM will provide centralized, visible communications management and tracking for staff
  • The CRM will provide automated communications capability based on criteria defined by staff
  • A campus wide communications calendar will be available for staff in the CRM 
  • Constituents will be able to manage communication preferences including by method and type 
  • Communication with constituents originating from the CRM will be secure 
  • Staff and administrators will have a clear understanding of effectiveness of communications from the CRM including analytics such as open rates for email communications 
  • Updated constituent information, such as a new address/email/phone, will be visible to staff in the CRM regardless of where the information originated 
  • Students are able to create cases with questions or issues for faculty and staff 
  • Staff are able to manage and provide responses to students via cases including when multiple questions are asked 
  • The CRM will provide staff with consolidated events management functionality including creating, supporting, and tracking constituent event attendance  

Advising/Student Success: 

  • The CRM will allow for automated prompts from advisors to students 
  • The CRM will provide AI, bot, and chat capabilities for common questions and answers from constituents 
  • Administrators will have visibility of the pipeline of perspective student through to enrollment 
  • Students will be able to schedule appointments via self-service in the CRM 
  • Advisors will be able to manage and schedule standardized advising appointments in the CRM 
  • Advisors will be able to manage rosters of advisees in the CRM 
  • The CRM will generate pro-active student success alerts that create actionable steps for students 
  • The CRM will support JMU’s objective of increasing student retention 
  • The CRM will provide degree tracking including the ability to see where they are and the steps needed to finish their degree 
  • The CRM will provide administrators an understanding of enrollment and seat capacity needs based on degree planner information 
  • Administrators will have a dashboard with daily retention values in the CRM 
  • Staff and administrators will have visibility into completion of learning outcomes and High Engagement/Impact Practices within the CRM 
  • The CRM will provide staff and administrators case management metrics including the following: 
    • Total number of cases per week/month/year  
    • Breakdown of cases by college, academic unit, etc. 
    • Breakdown of cases by reporter constituent type (students, parents, etc.) 
    • Breakdown of cases by student type (undergrad, first year, etc.) 
    • Number of steps in resolution process 


  • Staff will have modern mobile capabilities available in the CRM 
  • Staff and administrators will have event information including invitees, registrants, and attendees available in the CRM 
  • The CRM will have engagement scores and metrics available to staff 
  • Predictive analytics will be available to staff and administrators in the CRM for giving, who would be a good prospect, and who might serve as a volunteer or board member based on engagement with the university 
  • The CRM will have data via integrations available in near real-time for staff and administrators 
  • Staff and administrators will have access to dashboards in the CRM for: 
    • Prospect Pipeline 
    • Development Officer Performance (Scorecard) 
    • Campaign Progress & Campaign Priority Progress 
    • Funds Raised to Date (year-over-year comparison and against goals) 
    • Donor and Alumni Donor Counts (year-over-year comparison and against current goal) 
    • Current Cash Receipts 
    • Unrestricted Giving (year-over-year comparison against goal) 
  • The CRM will assist staff in meeting the overall goal, and specific campaign priority goals, for the next comprehensive fundraising campaign 


  • Staff and administrators will have visibility into the student recruiting pipeline 
  • The CRM will provide effective communications journeys for prospective students and applicants 
  • The CRM will support a collaborative approach to communications with prospective students by staff and faculty 

The selected CRM platform will provide specific functionality to support Advancement, Advising/Student Success, and Admissions functions, as well as deliver additional universal capabilities for departments across campus. For Advancement, functionality will be implemented replacing the current Advance application. Among many others, capabilities will include managing contacts and relationships for various individuals and organizations, communication with alumni and other constituents, and gift processing. For Advising/Student Success, the CRM platform will include functionality such as the ability for a student to schedule an appointment with an advisor, an advisor to view a student’s progress, and early alerts where action can be taken to keep a student on track. For Admissions, capabilities will be developed to support key business processes for Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional and Continuing Education needs. The CRM platform will be a single resource that will incorporate data from all functional areas, so these three areas are not the only groups impacted by the CRM platform, as it will touch all parts of the institution.

Because the CRM platform looks to incorporate information for all individuals who interact with the institution, most university operations will interact with the CRM platform. Key functionality will include capabilities such as: event planning, case management, and email/text communications. The CRM platform is designed to help capture an individual’s interactions with the institution across all functional areas, so that the institution can serve individuals in a more comprehensive manner. 

The CRM platform will be rolled out iteratively across functional areas over the next several years. Planning and implementation of the Advancement component and the Advising/Student Success component will occur between now and FY2024. Admissions will follow along, with implementation running from FY2023 and FY2025. In addition, an integration platform and development of data governance tools are being implemented through FY2023.

The individual workstream timelines can be found in the specific Project Scope and Timeline sections below.

A common misconception is that the CRM platform will be replacing the Human Resources, Finance, and Student Administration systems. The CRM platform will not replace those systems, as it fulfills a different role functionally. The CRM platform exists for understanding the relationships that individuals have with James Madison University, and to show that relationship over interactions and time. The Human Resources, Finance, and Student Administration systems will be getting replaced later in the larger Reengineering Madison project (FY2025-2029), but those systems will be replaced by an Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) system that will be more specifically tailored to transactional processes.


Salesforce was chosen for several reasons. We believe this platform gives us the best opportunity to achieve our goals. They are a market leader with substantial resources focused on Higher Ed, and peer Higher Ed institutions have had success with this platform. Additionally, their CRM platform has the greatest breadth of scalable capabilities and functionality for the institution-wide approach that we are pursuing. Most importantly, individuals here at JMU who participated in demonstrations had the most positive sentiment toward this platform relative to others.  

Huron is a consulting firm working with James Madison University to facilitate our implementation of the new CRM platform. Huron has higher education experts with deep functional expertise across the many facets of an institution such as ours, as well as extensive Salesforce platform design and implementation experience that is critical for a project of this size and impact. Huron has developed an implementation plan specific to JMU to replace existing CRM platform solutions and to expand CRM platform capabilities. Over the span of about 24 months, they will work through the Enterprise-wide functionality and the specific needs for the Advising/Student Success, Advancement, and Admissions components of the CRM platform. Additionally, they will be working to migrate certain datasets from previous systems into the new CRM platform as needed. Finally, Huron will be partnering with JMU to ensure users of this new platform will have all the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed through this transition and beyond.

Project Scope & Timeline

Because the CRM platform looks to incorporate information for all individuals who interact with the institution, most university operations will interact with the CRM platform. Key functionality will include capabilities such as: event planning, case management, and email/text communications. The CRM platform is designed to help capture an individual’s interactions with the institution across all functional areas, so that the institution can serve individuals in a more comprehensive manner. The individual workstream timelines can be found in specific sections below.

The initial build of the Advancement portion of the CRM system will focus on the creation of the data structure for both biographic and gift information. Functionality for prospect research, campaign management, and constituent engagement will be created in the initial phases of development. Once the infrastructure has been built, advanced functionality will be configured, such as reporting and analytics, event management, an online giving and constituent portal, and marketing cloud integration, among other features.


Implementation scope will target Undergraduate Admissions with the objective of replacing the use of Slate. For Orientation, the One Book process will be moved to CRM which will replace the use of VisualZen. In addition to the setup and design of the CRM platform, third-party applications will either be configured and integrated into the system or replaced using internal CRM workflows. 

Once the Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation implementations are complete, subsequent rounds will focus on the development of similar platforms for The Graduate School and The School of Professional & Continuing Education. 

 Admissions Timeline

After more than two years of thoughtful planning and technical groundwork, we are pleased to announce that CRM and MyMadison Connect were successfully implemented for both advisors and students. This implementation elevates student success by optimizing academic advising at JMU.

Over the course of the implementation, core functionality was built for both advisors and students to include data model configuration, calendar syncing, appointment scheduling/management, care plan creation, case management, early alerts, as well as reporting and dashboard development.

JMU already is among the best public universities when it comes to student persistence and graduation rates because of the excellent assistance students receive from faculty, advisers and teams delivering academic support and co-curricular programs aimed at helping them to progress, thrive and find their place. Until now, our success hasn’t had the needed technology support. With MyMadison Connect, we will now have a system that equals the quality of our people. Learn more about the impact academic advising has on students' success here.





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