campus news

New enterprise-wide CRM to strengthen university relationships

Provose A. Scott Weber, John Della Contrada, Kelly Kenline, Craig Abbey, Brice Bible, and Salesforce representative Brent Wege.

Members of committees tasked with implementing the eCRM initiatitive at UB are, from left, Provost A. Scott Weber, John Della Contrada, Kelly Kenline, Craig Abbey and Brice Bible. At far right is Salesforce representative Brent Wege. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published March 20, 2023

“It’s very exciting to all be working in the same direction to build and empower relationships that support our Top 25 Ambition through a unified digital presence. This is just the beginning, and I look forward to the next steps. ”
Provost A. Scott Weber

UB officials gathered March 3 to celebrate a significant milestone toward establishing the university’s first enterprise-wide constituent relationship management system (eCRM).

Powered by Salesforce, the world leader in cloud-based constituent relationship management, UB’s eCRM is a platform that will integrate updated constituent data across the university as the foundation for more effective and efficient personalized interactions and digital communication between UB and its constituents.

UB kicked off implementation of the eCRM with remarks by Provost A. Scott Weber and Brice Bible, vice president and CIO, thanking divisional leaders and staff who have worked together over the past several weeks to ready the university for the launch of the eCRM. A new website for the eCRM initiative was unveiled at the gathering as part of a communications plan to keep the UB community informed.

“Establishing this CRM enables UB to improve messaging to students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community throughout their entire life cycle with the institution,” Weber said. “It's important that we provide consistent, accurate and clear information to our constituents. We will achieve this evolution with Salesforce, a platform that’s responsive to contemporary ways of interacting.”

The overall goal is to strengthen relationships with students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and other key stakeholders by delivering personalized information and messages that are the most meaningful to them because they are tailored to their needs, expectations and behaviors. 

In addition, UB’s eCRM will:

  • Realize operational efficiencies to support student success, increase constituent engagement and improve university-wide coordination in digital communication. 
  • Adopt a single, accurate and accessible source of UB constituent engagement data and develop a governance process for use of data and protection of privacy.
  • Implement an enterprise-wide event management and registration system.
Brice Bible speaking as others, seated around a table, listen.

Brice Bible (far left) addresses those gathered for the kickoff of the eCRM implementation. Photo: Douglas Levere

A key component of UB’s eCRM is Marketing Cloud, the mass digital communications platform used by more than half of UB’s AAU peers. Launching with a pilot group this spring, Marketing Cloud will provide a new model for university-wide digital communications, elevating the value of UB communications to its constituents through personalized, dynamic content and targeted audience segmentation. UB’s Marketing Cloud pilot group includes University Advancement, Student Life, the College of Arts and Sciences, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the offices of the President and Provost, UBIT and University Communications. 

“As we launch the eCRM, we need to give equal attention not only to building the product, but to building the internal teams and skills to move forward,” Bible said. “The university is committed to supporting that workforce. We will equip the users with the tools, training and help they need to use this platform at their level, whether it’s once a year, once a month or every day.”

UB’s eCRM initiative is a multiphase, multiyear effort that began in spring 2022 with the formation of the following cross-campus committees:

  • Data Governance Council (led by Craig Abbey, vice provost for institutional analysis and planning, and Bible.
  • CRM Advisory Committee (led by Abbey and Kelly Kenline, assistant chief information officer, director of strategic portfolio management and interim director of enterprise application services).
  • Enterprise Digital Communications Strategy Committee (led by John Della Contrada, vice president for university communications).
  • CRM Implementation team (led by Abbey and Kenline).
  • Advancement CRM Vendor Demo Participants (led by Kathleen Heckman, associate vice president for administration, University Advancement).
  • Event Management CRM Vendor Demo Participants (led by Geoff Bartlett, assistant vice president for strategic initiatives, University Advancement).
  • Marketing Cloud Demo Participants (led by Rebecca Bernstein, director of strategy and digital communications, University Communications).
  • Marketing Cloud Implementation Committee (led by Bernstein and Jessica Kane, digital communications product manager, University Communications).

Two additional components of the eCRM initiative are expected to launch later this year. An event management component will serve as a university-wide platform that easily allows constituents to register for and check in to an event and provides powerful reports for event planners and engagement officers. An alumni and donor constituent management tool will foster purposeful affinity through a single source of demographic data that combines donor recognition, gift processing, campaign management and automated workflows.

“It’s very exciting to all be working in the same direction to build and empower relationships that support our Top 25 Ambition through a unified digital presence,” Weber said. “This is just the beginning, and I look forward to the next steps.”