Phase I: Preparation
  • 13 Mar 2024
  • 3 minute read
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Phase I: Preparation

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Article summary

A successful implementation begins with good preparation. Complete these four critical steps to lay the foundation for your implementation:

  1. Establish your Slate team and steering committee

  2. Familiarize yourself with key Slate concepts and basic functionality

  3. Review and document your current processes and list the data that you use

  4. Use the Roadmap to begin developing a project plan

1. Slate Team and Steering Committee

Establish your Slate team.  This will be the group directly charged with building out functionality in Slate and transitioning records and operations from your previous system into Slate. Your Slate team should include database managers - the Slate Captains - as well as additional staff with specific roles such event management, marketing and communications. Your Slate team should meet regularly to cross-train, collaborate and monitor the progress of the implementation.

Selecting Slate Captains

A Slate Captain should understand your current admission and enrollment processes. Creativity and flexibility will also be very important while you are working on translating legacy operations into new Slate-based functionality. Ideal Slate Captain candidates include Director of Operations, Associate or Senior Admissions Director, or Admissions Coordinator.

Steering Committee & Stakeholders

In addition to the Slate team, establish a Slate steering committee to promote your Slate mission and institutional goals. The Slate steering committee provides strategic guidance during implementation and governance to help shape the development and use of Slate going forward. Slate Captains should meet with the steering committee to provide functional advice and gather input.  Steering committees often meet on a monthly or quarterly schedule.

The composition of the core Slate team and steering committee encompasses several offices and functions. Team size and members certainly vary but typically are represented by:

Sample Slate Team Composition:

  1. Leadership: Most often on the Steering Committee to define your mission and expedite critical decisions.

  2. Admissions Staff: Primary builders and users provide insight into current processes and lead the implementation.

  3. IT: Define current data collection and usage beyond admissions and support integration processes with other external and campus systems.

    • Slate is not a conventional IT project. Slate is designed to be administered by its primary users, namely admissions and enrollment staff. The majority of implementation tasks are focused on business processes and are completed directly by Slate Captains with minimal intervention by IT staff.

  4. Marketing: Synchronize with campus initiatives and maintain your institutional brand.

  5. Other Departments: Representatives from departments such as Financial Aid, Registrar, and Student Services to develop new processes that benefit applicants and enrolled students.

  6. Preferred Partners: Although third parties are not required for implementation, institutions that desire deeper project management resources and technical expertise benefit from engaging a Slate Preferred Partner. Slate Preferred Partners offer on-campus and remote dedicated services, including implementation, consulting, and support services for your Slate projects and priorities.

2. Fundamentals of Slate

Familiarize yourself with basic Slate functionality, key concepts, and best practices before building out operations in Slate. The Fundamentals of Admissions and Enrollment course in the Learning Lab provides a complete overview of Slate. While each Slate database includes three waivers for core team members to attend at no cost, additional users can attend for a nominal fee. 

To make sure your team gets the most out of the Fundamentals coursework, plan on meeting at least twice during your training and again at course completion. Training together fosters teamwork and provides a great opportunity to share ideas about the implementation.

3. Review Current Processes 

Undertake a comprehensive review of all your current operations. Focus on the purpose and the data requirements of each legacy process. Use this review to assess critical needs and develop an implementation project plan. 

A catalogue of your current data requirements is essential. The power of Slate is rooted in automated, data-driven operations. How you carry out many business operations will likely change once you transition to Slate; however, the more effectively you can use record data in queries and rules, the more efficient your new database operations will be. 

Ask the Right Questions

When auditing your current processes, ask your team and stakeholders the following questions about necessary data points:

  • Is this data point accurate?

  • Where is the data point created (SIS, LMS, etc.)?

  • Is this data point necessary for us to do our job?

  • Who uses this piece of information? In what capacity?

  • Is this value something that can change? Or is it purely historical?

  • Why do we collect information in this manner?

  • What are we looking to achieve with this form/event/report?

  • How do our prospective/current/future students interact with us in an ideal world?

  • What do we care about—and what is ultimately necessary to address those desires?

Once you have clarified the goal and the data required for each process, you will be ready to build new operations in Slate.

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