Many institutions already see a Slate instance and think, I hope this can do everything I need because I can’t fill more of my day with technology. Well, you’re in good luck!
Slate is capable of many things and if your institution doesn’t have a lot of extra resources (personnel or financial), your institution can do everything you need to within the one tool. That said as your strategies and needs grow, you may find some limitations. Again, it’s all in how you shape your needs versus wants.
Thankfully, there are a lot of resources in the Slate Community, Knowledge Base and other places to learn how other institutions are getting around some of their own limitations.
As you grow and find needs beyond Slate’s existing functionality, there are some 3rd party vendors that will integrate with Slate and allow you to use their services (and some are free!). Being able to take advantage of these tools can help your institution better utilize Slate, make your team’s jobs easier and recruit your students in a highly effective way.
We are going to give you a good overview of some of the tools our team has seen integrate well with our client’s Slate instances and processes.
Recruitment and Communication Tools That Integrate with Slate
A custom-built Slate CRM can do a lot including storing prospect, applicant and enrolled student information, host and manage the school’s application, and send out communications through the Deliver module which also offers the ability to create campaigns and track open/click rates. Events and landing pages can also be managed in Slate, but despite all this Slate is not a marketing nor a lead-generation tool in itself. To attract prospects, engage them, convert them into applicants and then into enrolled students, you may need a tool such as HubSpot.
HubSpot has a robust set of inbound and content-based marketing tools with action-based audience-focused communication capabilities, integrated analytics/dashboards, SEO-friendly blogging functionality, drag and drop functionality for email and responsive web and landing pages, and user-friendly workflow design. Your prospective students are looking for information on your website, and their continued interest in your institution is influenced by how easy it is for them to find the information that they are looking for. Using HubSpot, you are able to attract prospective students through the creation of targeted content and communication. It is not uncommon for institutions to use HubSpot for their recruitment and Slate for their application managem
ent. They run a daily dataset upload from HubSpot to Slate to mark the first source of the inquiries or connect Slate web service from HubSpot.
A key medium of engagement with a prospective student is SMS. Two-way texting especially involving valuable con
tent helps cultivating a meaningful relationship with the prospect. Slate has native text functionality which allows you to send 1:1 texts from the person record, as well as send personalized bulk (one-time, scheduled or recurring) SMS texts to segmented populat
ions via Deliver. We have worked with clients that hit some limitations with the feature as their communications strategies have grown more robust and complex. There are other texting platforms that integrate with their CRM, including Slate, to supplement the texting capabilities of their original platform. We’ve reviewed many and have supported clients with all of the major platforms as they have expanded with their SMS needs.
Integrations with Your SIS or Other Campus Tools
Slate has a robust amount of tools within it to allow you to operate an integration without any middleware; including, but not limited to, translation tables, export values, custom query exports and filters, etc. There is some work and expertise needed in the SIS wheelhouse here in order to set up validation scripts and potentially backfeeds to Slate should this integration need to be bi-directional (as it should!). At this point, some institutions find that setting the integration up takes more work or experience than they have in house. When that realization hits, that is usually when institutions start to look at a middleware approach to fill in the gaps for them and be the assistant to catch data duplicates or merge information to the right record in both Slate and the SIS. Three common middleware products we see integrating with Slate are Axiom Elite, Consitituo, and iData.
Axiom Elite allows for a “managed, automated and real-time integration” between Slate and your campus SIS or other campus tools. They’ve integrated with Ellucian (Banner, Power Campus, and Colleague) and Jenzabar. If other offices utilize different CRMS, you can see which ones Axiom has already connected with and see if your institution’s system is there. Axiom allows for data to come into the system, translate it if needed, and insert it into your SIS or other system.
Consitituo provides a few options for services in terms of integrations whether you just need the ability to “Map” the data and transform it before it heads to your SIS or whether you need an entire “Integration Suite” to “provide easy and secure connectivity with minimal to no IT infrastructure investments required.” Based on responses we have seen in the Slate community, Constituo provides great customer service, bi-directional integration, and has been a good platform for institutions who may not have the resources in house to devote to a highly programmatic integration with their SIS.
iData allows for integration with your SIS (Banner/Colleague by Ellucian, Jenzabar EX, or Peoplesoft) through a bi-directional connection. They have developed a suite of connectors for their “iData Hub” which can be configured in this hub so that they work for your institution.
Electronic Transcript and Document Providers that Integrate with Slate
Institutions are constantly looking for new ways to gain access to official documentation for students who are applying to their programs. While it is helpful for an applicant to provide a self-reported transcript or other document, it may be required by your institution to have an official document prior to review or enrollment. In today’s digital world and post-pandemic era, many institutions have moved away from physical documents that would be mailed to their institution. They are still collected, but are slow and sometimes lost, causing delays in processing and/or confusion with applicants who potentially paid to have something mailed to you and you are saying you haven’t received it yet.
Many institutions integrate with Parchment, SCOIR/Coalition, WES, SpanTran, ECE, and others to gain access more quickly to official documentation. These 3rd party providers integrate well with Slate and can sometimes even provide automation in the integration process, either for free or a fee (i.e. Parchment requires your institution to be enrolled in Parchment Receive Premium to automate this import process).
The final option that we have seen many schools benefit from is utilizing Slate.org as a way to collect official documentation such as recommendation letters and transcripts from college counselors around the country. This platform is free for high schools and your institution has it available for free to set up within your instance as well. It is a great way to cultivate your relationship with college counselors in your territory as well as provide transparency to them as they are counseling the students applying for admission to your institution. The set up is easy and you can customize how much or how little you want the counselors to be able to view.
Payment Providers Who Integrate with Slate
Slate has their own native payment tool called Slate Payments which utilizes Stripe; however, a lot of institutions already have payment providers and their central system requires them to use this payment provider in any platform if available. While we would highly recommend using Slate Payments for the ease of functionality as well as the ability to take advantage of any of Slate’s upgrades and communication capabilities, there isn’t always an option to do so. If you are one of those institutions that has a payment provider that must or is preferred to be used, you’ll be happy to know that Slate integrates well with many other payment providers. We’ll include a current list below.
It is essential that you are aware of the timeline of integration with an outside payment provider though as Technolutions quotes that it can take up to 4-6 weeks or longer depending on the type or method of integration and your team’s availability and responsiveness, as well as the payment providers. Therefore, it is crucial that your team starts this process as quickly as possible upon the start of your implementation so as to avoid any delays in application fee, enrollment deposit, event fee, etc. payments which could delay your go-live.
Current external payment providers that Technolutions provides documentation for integration include: Flywire, Authorize.Net, CASHNet, CyberSource, DiamondMind, Higher One Netpay, MOneris, Nelnet Commerce Manager, Nelnet QuikPay, Official Payments/ACI, Payflow Link, Payflow Pro, TMS Link, TouchNet Ready/TLink, and Virtual Merchant/Elavon/Converge.
Interview Tools That Integrate with Slate
Many programs/majors require video essays on their application to allow students to showcase their communication skills, authenticity and creativity. Schools with a Slate instance have access to its native video essay component which randomly picks and displays questions from a question bank that you have set up, in the application’s video essay page or in the applicant status portal. The applicant’s video answers can then be viewed in the Reader during the application review process. Several schools use third-party interview tools and integrate it with Slate if they have already been using one before procuring and implementing a Slate instance or because the Slate video essay component is not fully customizable to meet the requirements of all their programs.
Some of the popular interview platforms that integrate with Slate include but are not limited to VidCruiter, Kira Talent, Duolingo, Vericant and InitialView. The integration of these platforms with Slate can be completed with a few steps that involve creating fields for the interview URL and scores, source formats and queries with the correct web service end-points and the Reader tab. Once set up, the two-way data transfer sends applicant information from Slate to the interview platform and brings back interview data from the platform to Slate which can be viewed in the Reader. There is no cost to integrate VidCruiter, Duolingo and InitialView but Kira Talent charges a fee to integrate with Slate.
Reporting Tools That Integrate with Slate
The admissions and recruitment teams can use the Queries and Reports module in Slate to create call lists, yearly comparison reports, funnel reports, territory reports, conversion reports, charts showing the demographic and geographic spread of prospects, applicants and enrolled students, event attendance report etc. The reports that you want to look at frequently can be quickly accessed on the Slate homepage by using report widgets. Even though Slate’s querying and reporting tool has become increasingly more customizable and flexible over the years, using third-party reporting tools such as Tableau, Argos or Power BI will allow for improved data visualization and reporting capabilities. The Slate data can be connected with data from multiple sources to build reports and dashboards that illustrate how effective your recruitment efforts are. Tableau is an ideal tool for visualizing data and can do some basic forecasting like fitting trend lines, but if you want to do advanced analysis using predictive modeling then Power BI is a good option. To make Slate data available to external tools like Tableau or Power BI, over a direct SQL connection, dynamic (virtual table based on a result of a query) and materialized views can be used.
As we read through this post, it seems like there are many ways you can expand Slate, and you may be wondering if you are hurting yourself by NOT adding one or more of them to your tech stack – oh, the FOMO!
Here’s some advice – you do not need to add third party tools until you know you’ve grown enough to hit the wall with your Slate instance, and cannot grow any further without an additional tool. At that point, you have a decision to make – keep growing (which to be honest, we ALWAYS recommend), look at your options and find the best fit tool for you, or stay where you are for a time, and focus on other ways to grow and scale.
It certainly is not an easy decision, but we are happy to help you think through your options. Don’t be a stranger, connect with us when you are ready!
Kennedy & Company is a Slate Preferred Partner, and also maintains active vendor partnerships with technical expertise in many of the solutions listed within this article, including HubSpot, Salesforce, Formstack, Jitterbit, Cloudingo, Mogli, Blackthorn, FormAssembly and more. Feel free to connect with us using the form to the right with questions about which tools may be the best fit to support your CRM growth.