The Power of Scripting
The admissions office at Stevenson School is humming. For one thing, the campus is beautiful: imagine the neighborhoods of Carmel and Pebble Beach, nestled along one of the country’s most scenic coastal stretches, the Monterey Peninsula. What’s more, the school can boast of many advantages for its 750 day and boarding students: a strong academic program, excellent faculty, Advanced Placement classes, state-of-the-art technology, and great college placement. Applicants aren’t only local; in fact, Stevenson attracts students from around the world.
You’d be safe in assuming that the admissions office has enough work to keep ten professionals busy—and you’d be surprised to learn that, with the right help, the school can pull it off with only four.
inRESONANCE solutions are Stevenson’s productivity tools of choice. A client of iR since 1999, Stevenson runs PORTAL and KEYSTONE. Although the school has two campuses (K-8 and 9-12) separated by 10 miles, Stevenson runs both campuses on one unified set of databases.
Tom Sheppard, Director of Admission, tells some of the story.
“The ability to customize was from Day One the reason we chose the inRESONANCE solutions,” Tom explains.
“We did not want to be bound by any one person’s concept of what an Admissions system should be; we wanted to customize the software to match our system. And we knew we wanted to use the FileMaker Pro platform. I am not a tech person, but I was able to learn how to use PORTAL in a reasonable amount of time. Then I set about learning to do my own customization.
"People often talk about needing to have the whole school integrated—to have one database. We don't find that at all. PORTAL enables us to do Admissions the way we need to do it. The Development and Business offices use Blackbaud. By working collaboratively and understanding that each office believes it uses the databases that work best for them, we can use the power of scripting in Filemaker and Excel to easily overcome any dataflow issues. For us, dataflow issues should not be the tail that wags the dog and the reason that one office is forced to use a database system that it does not view as the best choice for its needs.
“The first thing I wanted was a system to generate ‘bump letters.’ Although it consumed a lot of time to create it, now that I have automated the process of sending out personalized letters to admissions prospects—letters that reflect the individual’s interests and needs—we have eliminated large volumes of work. To me, that’s time well spent. Customizing PORTAL has allowed our office to simplify our workload.”
Reflecting on his increased efficiency, Tom emphasizes the power of BROADCASTER: “We use BROADCASTER for customized visit confirmation emails, notice of recruiting visits to various areas, follow-up reminders about receptions we are hosting, and beginning soon, we will send customized academic and extra-curricular interest emails for international students.” He reflects on the benefits of using Notifications and posting admission decisions online. “The power of scripting is what really makes all of this possible…
“Here’s another example: PORTAL WEB SERVICES brings us accurate data and allows us to communicate in a timely fashion. Nine years ago, we were printing out inquiries that arrived by email, and then entering the data by hand. This seems absurd now! Today, our online application feeds directly into the database. And the online notification of the status of an application has made a huge difference, especially for our international market. The phone doesn’t ring here any more, we’re not sending out these mailings any more. It’s a time savings for us, and this capability is very significant from the applicant’s point of view.
“These products are so good. But I want to be clear: customization is not simple. To make these solutions truly your own, to take them to a different level, you have to want to make it work. You have to invest time to learn it yourself. We have barely begun to scratch the surface of their capabilities.”
Learn more about Stevenson School