Graduate Admissions Prepares for CRM with Kaizen

Graduate Admissions CRM Kaizen EventI am incredibly grateful to GSAAC for their support of the recent Kaizen Event co-sponsored by Graduate Admissions and Information Services.

The Kaizen team was engaged in a rigorous Graduate Admission’s process review that fleshed out all our collective pain points and delays. As former Provost Diacon indicated during the report-out, simply generating the Value Stream Map of our current processes would have been worth all of our effort. However, we were also charged with finding solutions for both the near term and long term. The focus of our attention was rightly placed on what our prospective students experience as they engage with Kent State University. Below please find the highlights of the 3-day event. (Picture attached for your viewing pleasure.)

Goal #1 – Reduce the volume of emails and phone calls to graduate admissions by 50% and improve the processing of completed applications to 2-3 days for domestic applications; 9-11 days for credential review for international applicants.

Rationale for Goal #1 – During the busy season, graduate admissions receives between 200-300 daily emails and 50+ daily phone calls. Applicants are often confused about their admission status and submit duplicate documents because our applicant portal and communications are not real time. This only adds to the processing burden. Domestic applicants can experience a 2-3 week delay in processing of admission’s documents; international applicants can experience additional delays for an international credential review.

Goal #2 – Reduce the printing of applications and ‘workarounds’ by reviewers by 50%.

Rationale for Goal #2 – Programs and reviewers have created unique solutions to avoid AppExtender during the review process (e.g., printing application files in their entirety, uploading applications to shared drives). Reviewers expressed a desire to diminish or eliminate the use of ‘workarounds’ with the delivery of a better software solution.

How will these goals be achieved? Listed below are the priorities that rose to the top of our shared "to do list."

1. Software – The KSU enterprise implementation of a new application and CRM will greatly improve the application experience for applicants, recommenders, reviewers and admission staff. The software will:
  • Allow applicants and recommenders to upload documents (e.g., transcripts, statement of goals, letters of reference) directly to the application
  • Provide real time, accurate information about the status of an application and turn off applications for terms for which there is no admission
  • Move applications more quickly to review without the need to print
  • Provide ready access to reviewers to incomplete applications in order to know what’s in the admission pipeline
2. Communication – Although software solutions will drastically improve the graduate admissions process, the Kaizen team recognized that software was just a part of our overall solution. In order to improve our communication to applicants, the Kaizen team suggested we:
  • Create a repository of application deadlines, program requirements, contacts and links to each program’s website on the graduate admissions home page to make it easier for applicants to find important information about programs
  • Coordinate our communication flow to inquiries, applicants and admitted students to enable us to engage with prospective students throughout the admission cycle. Identify highly qualified applicants earlier in the admission cycle and provide ‘fast track’ solutions
  • Provide prompts to reviewers when applicants are ready for review
  • Provide timely and relevant reports about applicants and admission cohorts

The Kaizen team was comprised of an amazing group of individuals who did outstanding work. The work was exhausting, but the product was worth it.