How Destiny One is enhancing the student experience, improving staff efficiency and generating business intelligence
About The University of Guelph
University of Guelph Open Learning and Educational Support (OpenEd) serves over 35,000 learners each year through continuing education, online learning, English language programs and more. OpenEd extends the teaching and research expertise of the University of Guelph, and its various partners, beyond the University campus, providing innovative and flexible educational programs. These programs include online and on-campus non-credit courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, certificate and diploma programs, customized training packages, and degree-credit online courses.
The University of Guelph Open Learning and Educational Support (OpenEd) was looking to enhance its service to students, support staff efficiency and better leverage business intelligence to support the department’s growth. At its core, this meant they needed to replace their legacy system that managed their operations.
“The system we had in place was developed and customized in-house approximately 20 years ago. In order to take advantage of advancements in technology, we needed to move away from our customized solution and adopt a solution that transforms the learner experience, integrates with various intuitional systems, and provides rich data and improved workflows,” says Michelle Fach, Director of Open Learning and Educational Support at the University of Guelph.
The University of Guelph turned to Destiny One—the customer lifecycle management software application that manages business operation and enhances customer engagement with learners.
Efficiency for English Language Programs
Managing international learners on campus for English programs requires very specialized processes. Staff often try to piece together different parts of numerous systems to make the transition from prospect to student. This can make the work challenging and time-consuming for staff to deliver the experience they know their students want. The Destiny One International and Specialty Programs Manager (ISPM) systematizes staff engagement with these unique learners and improves the experience for both.
“I have a number of staff who are often out of the office at recruiting events and historically they haven’t been able to access information in the databases when they’re offsite. They do a lot of phoning and emailing, and sometimes have to wait until they’re back in the office in Guelph to access files,” says Fach. “The ISPM module now allows staff to access updated information when they need it and input critical information about an agent or a prospective student onsite, avoiding duplication of work when they return to the office.”
ISPM extends Destiny One’s capabilities to improve the efficiency and experience for the staff and students in the English language programs at OpenEd.
Since implementing the student-centric Destiny One software platform in 2016, the University of Guelph has evolved their operations in three main ways:
1. Offering an Amazon-like student experience
The University of Guelph OpenEd—which includes online learning, continuing education, and Intensive English Language Programs—aims to consistently provide students with a high-touch and modern experience; the previous system made such an experience tough to offer at scale.
“We would have had to redevelop the entire system from scratch in order for it to provide the student-facing functionality today’s students expect,” says Fach.
Destiny One has given learners across Canada and the United States more control over their experience by providing a full suite of self-service tools, and students at Guelph are no exception. In the past, a lot of staff time and effort was required to deliver the high-quality and responsive experience Guelph’s students expect. If a student wanted a copy of a receipt or their transcript, for example, they would have to send an email or fill out a form and a staff member would print out the document and send it to the student as quickly as possible.
“Now, students have 24/7 access to their full academic history so they don’t have to wait to get a hold of a staff member to ask for a copy of something. They just login at a time and place that is convenient for them,” Fach says.
We immediately realized efficiencies when we implemented Destiny One.
As savvy consumers, students have come to expect high-quality self-service capabilities from their experiences with other retailers like Amazon. Destiny One facilitates a similar experience for students at Guelph OpenEd. Students can now login online (even on mobile devices) and independently manage administrative tasks including accessing their financial and academic history, downloading transcripts or grade reports, enroll, transfer or drop courses and certificates, and much more—anytime they want.
“We pride ourselves in the quality of service we deliver and the personalized support that our staff provides to our clients, and Destiny aligns with that vision,” Fach says.
Meeting students’ service expectations is especially important for cost-recovery divisions, like University of Guelph OpenEd, that are dependent on learners.
2. Helping staff do more
Self-service tools go a long way towards giving students the experience they demand, but staff also plays a crucial role. Before implementing Destiny One, staff at Guelph OpenEd spent a lot of time on routine administrative tasks, which meant they had less time available to focus specifically on students.
“With Destiny One, there will be less time spent on routine administrative tasks and more on services that add value to the learner experience,” Fach says. “Staff will play a greater role in meeting the needs of students.”
Destiny One replaced a number of systems and integrations that were built on top of the legacy system. By centralizing processes and information, staff no longer have to search multiple systems for information, and as a result, are much more efficient.
We want to grow enrollments and we want to grow programs and now we’re going to be able to do that without actually adding more cost to the bottom line.
Beyond making information more accessible, Destiny One also improves staff efficiency by automating many time-consuming processes. The system allows each unit to input their own unique business rules, which run independently and alert each staff member when their input or approval is needed.
“Different audiences expect different services and we were using multiple systems to facilitate and meet those expectations. Trying to manage a business this way becomes challenging and you just can’t scale,” Fach says. “We immediately realized efficiencies when we implemented Destiny One.”
“Destiny One lets us create internal efficiencies for the department so that we can eliminate the need for paper, eliminate the need for multiple steps, and other major inefficiencies,” Fach says.
Improving Engagement with Corporate Clients
Corporate clients working with institutions for custom training expect a high level of service. From managing batch enrollments to providing special tuition rates to organizing class times and instructors both on and off campus, staff often resort to superhuman effort to meet the high expectations of their corporate clients. Of course, these contracts are immensely lucrative and have often been seen as well worth the effort.
As the saying goes, it’s better to work smarter. University of Guelph OpenEd implemented the Destiny One Corporate Engagement Manager to systematize their work with corporations.
“The functionality and the control that Destiny One provides to a corporate client is the high-end corporate experience that these clients expect. Frankly, it’s not something that we could’ve delivered as efficiently,” says Fach.
By leveraging the functionality provided by Destiny One, staff are able to exceed the expectations of corporate partners without increasing the cost to the department.
3. Gathering business intelligence
Of course, a strong student experience and efficient staff mean little if you can’t track and measure their impact. Destiny One provides extensive reporting capabilities that give staff insights into all aspects of operations.
Before implementing Destiny One, OpenEd’s leaders had to consider data sets housed in multiple systems in order to make informed, evidence-based decisions on markets and trends. Some data was just not easy to obtain.
“Destiny One gives all staff—be they managers or curriculum development support personnel—more data and evidence on which to base their decisions, practices and programming,” Fach says. “We have a responsibility as a cost-recovery unit to continue to evolve in order to remain viable. If we don’t continue to evolve and improve we’re not going to be around.”
In addition to offering numerous reports, Destiny One now gives colleges and universities access to 42 dashboards that make it even easier for staff to map trends and use them to make data-driven decisions. Dashboards are useful because they pull in the school’s unique data and graph or chart it so that staff can easily get the information they need at a glance.
“We can make better decisions as a department and, as a director, my work will be better informed,” Fach says.
Managing the shift to Destiny One
Implementing a new system has far-reaching implications that go well beyond shifting software providers. Destiny One is packed with best-practice workflows and processes that improve the way non-traditional divisions work.
“We had our old system for 20 years, and we knew we were going to have to change some processes and workflows,” Fach says. “Our staff were excited about the opportunities it would provide students and how it would change the nature of their work. They really see how this shift is going to allow them to add value to the student experience in a different way.”
Destiny One gives all staff—be they managers or curriculum development support personnel—more data and evidence on which to base their decisions, practices and programming.
Destiny One’s impact on OpenEd’s staff and students has been seen around campus.
“Our commitment to enhancing and supporting the student experience through this type of technology is being recognized by other departments at the university. They are getting excited about this functionality and want to know how they can take advantage of these opportunities as well,” Fach says. “We want to grow enrollments and we want to grow programs and now we’re going to be able to do that without actually adding more cost to the bottom line.”
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