7 Common Questions Around Integrations for Corporate Alumni Platforms
Allowing your internal systems and your corporate alumni platform to connect and exchange information typically provides deeper and more useful insights, reduces manual tasks, and speeds up processes making your team and program more effective. But what are they and do you need them? If you’ve never heard of an integration before, here’s a list of the most common questions we’ve come across.
With every new alumni community, inevitably the question of "Should we include an integration?" comes up when discussing how data should flow. This seemingly simple question often kicks off more questions to make an informed decision about what is best both for the members of the community and for those managing the community. Every vendor may operate a little differently when it comes to syncing up with internal systems, and some may not offer this at all.
If you’re considering your data flows, we’ve outlined answers below to the most asked questions.
What is an Integration?
An integration can be simply defined as two systems that talk to each other and exchange data.
For example, one system could be the company's HR data solution and the other is the alumni network's newly created data model. While the PeoplePath alumni management software can integrate with a variety of tools, the other key aspect of integrations is the direction in which data is transferred.
Data transference occurs in one of two ways: either a 1-way flow or 2-way flow. 1-way integrations mean the data originates from one system only and flows into the other. A 2-way integration allows for data to originate in both systems and flow back and forth depending on which data is more up to date. In 2-way integrations, the direction in which data is transferred can be set on an individual field level, meaning that data for some fields may flow in one direction only.
What are Integrations Used for in Corporate Alumni Programs?
Most commonly we see integrations being used for one of four purposes:
- Auto-populating user data from HR systems to streamline the user lifecycle and minimize the information users have to submit themselves
- Synchronizing profile information with CRM systems such as Salesforce and MS Dynamics
- Automated job postings from either the firm’s own recruiting system or career site
- Content integrations that pull in content posted on websites or other systems such as content management systems or learning and development systems.
Integrations alleviate the burden of manual data entry from alumni managers while providing for a more seamless and valuable alumni experience. The goal is to have data and information pulled into the platform regularly and seamlessly so the community has current data and alumni managers can focus more on alumni engagement and executing their programmatic strategy.
What is the Benefit of Having an Integration?
There quite a few reasons why integrations are beneficial to the alumni community. The first is users' information needs to stay up to date. According to a recent study, data degrades at about 3% per month! This means within 12 months, 1/3 of a company’s data, will no longer be accurate. Having users update their information and pushing it back to a CRM, results in keeping in contact with more alumni. Secondly, if alumni don't have to fill out a full profile, they are more likely to update out-of-date information or missing fields.
While discussing user engagement, integrations also improve the offboarding process for employees. Many companies choose to enable current employees to become active in the alumni system. When the system becomes aware of an upcoming departure, the system can transform their employee profile to an alumni profile automatically, minimizing involvement from alumni managers. The higher user engagement is with the platform, the more profile updates the user will complete, thus keeping data degradation to a minimum.
A jobs integration also eliminates the need for alumni managers to post jobs manually, allowing them to focus on curating better alumni-relevant content for the community.
If your team is stretched for time or you have few resources, integrations both speed up processes and reduce manual tasks.
How Common are Integrations for Corporate Alumni Programs?
Mature alumni programs typically have an integration to their HR system for employee and/or leaver data as well as current job requisitions. Professional service firms will typically also be looking for an integration to their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system as alumni will also be clients and prospects. Consumer and retail companies will be looking for ways to integrate with their loyalty programs.
It is possible to add an integration after a platform has launched, however, launching with an integration allows the community to reap the benefits from the beginning. Most of our new implementations launch with at least one integration because their leadership team sees the value of having the technical setup in place early on. More companies are leaning in this direction as it allows them to get updated information from their alumni that they previously wouldn’t have.
Is There an Additional Cost Associated with Having an Integration?
Generally, vendors will vary on how they break down their costs. The cost of an integration is included in the pricing quote provided by our sales team when starting a new alumni program. This includes the one-time set-up fee with a flat annual maintenance fee. The one-time fee is primarily dependent upon the complexity of the integration. For more detailed information, please contact us for further pricing information.
What About Data Privacy?
PeoplePath follows international data processing standards, and we are Information Security Management System (ISMS) certified and recertified according to the ISO 27001 standard since 2013.
It is perfectly reasonable for newly established alumni programs to launch without any integrations. As these alumni programs grow and mature, integrations can be a great way to streamline operations and create value for all major constituents: Leadership will appreciate the impact on achieving engagement objectives, alumni managers will benefit from automation and the ability to focus on strategic initiatives, and users will enjoy a more seamless user experience.