Slate Implementation Phases
A successful implementation begins with proper preparation. Complete these four critical steps to lay the foundation for a successful implementation:
- Establish your Slate team and steering committee
- Familiarize yourself with key Slate concepts and basic functionality
- Review and document your current processes and list the data that you use
- Develop a project plan
1. Slate Team and Steering Committee
The first step is to establish your Slate team and steering committee. Your Slate team is directly charged with building out operations in Slate and transitioning operations from your previous system. The team is led by your database manager(s), referred to as the Slate Captains. The team can also include staff with specific roles (e.g., event management, marketing and communications).
It is recommended your Slate team meet weekly to monitor and report on implementation progress. At least one Captain should regularly meet with the larger steering committee to provide functional advice and gather input.
Select Slate Captains
Team Captains must thoroughly understand your current admission and enrollment processes and how they intersect with other functions such as communications, events, and reporting requirements. Captains should bring a creative and innovative approach to adapting business practice transitions to Slate. Ideal Slate Captain candidates include Director of Operations, Associate or Senior Admissions Director, or Admissions Coordinator.
Slate Captains play a key role in the design and implementation of your database, leading the way and guiding the transition process. By establishing a Slate team with clearly defined roles for operations, plan execution, decision-making, and functional evaluation, you can ensure that your database functions smoothly and optimally. The team members can cross-train, provide support, and work together to achieve your goals. As a result, your organization can benefit from a more streamlined and automated process that can save you time and resources.
Steering Committee & Stakeholders
In addition to the core Slate team, identify a Slate steering committee to promote your Slate mission and institutional goals. The Slate steering committee provides strategic guidance during implementation and for the long-term effectiveness of Slate on campus. This team focuses on governance, prioritization, and decision-making in the overall context of data usage across your institution. The composition of the core Slate team and steering committee encompasses several offices and functions. Team size and members certainly vary based on institutional structure but typically are represented by:
Sample Slate Team Composition:
- Leadership: Most often on the Steering Committee to define your mission and expedite critical decisions.
- Admissions Staff: Primary builders and users provide insight into current processes and lead the implementation.
- 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.
- Marketing: Synchronize with campus initiatives and maintain your institutional brand.
- Other Departments: Representatives from departments such as Financial Aid, Registrar, and Student Services to develop new processes that benefit applicants and enrolled students.
- 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
Before building out your school-specific operations in Slate, you must familiarize yourself with basic Slate functionality, key concepts, and best practices. The Fundamentals of Admissions and Enrollment course in the Learning Lab introduces you to primary Slate tools and data structure.
Completing the online Fundamentals course is vital for your team to acquire the skills needed to build your production database. While each Slate database includes three waivers for core team members to attend at no cost, there is no limit to the number of additional users who can attend for a nominal fee. (Find these details and curriculum in the article linked above.)
To maximize your team's Slate comprehension and shared experience of Fundamentals, plan on meeting at least twice during the coursework and again at course completion. This accomplishes the dual goal of fostering Slate teamwork and exchanging ideas that inform your implementation plan.
3. Current Processes
An extensive review of the current operations is necessary to establish a clear understanding of the purpose, personnel, and data involved in each process before transitioning from legacy systems to Slate. This review allows the Slate team and stakeholders to assess needs and determine a prioritized path to build them. With this catalog of processes in place, the team can then proceed to create field destinations, objects, and workflows in Slate.
The power of Slate is expressed through automated, data-driven operations. The more effectively you can use record data in queries and rules, the more efficient your new database operations will be. Often, using Slate functionality establishes new and more effective ways to carry out business operations, such as prospect communication and data transfer to the SIS."
Ask Right Questions
When auditing, ask your team and stakeholders the following questions about stored 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?
This third preparation step is essential to moving forward with implementation. When you articulate what you need to accomplish and the data required, you can build any process in Slate.
4. Project Plan
Once you have completed the first three preparation steps, develop a project plan with your team. A well-designed project plan ensures goals are visible, measures progress, keeps your team organized, and empowers them to navigate changes easily and stay on track with realistic goals.
To develop an effective project plan, you need to:
- Determine which business operations need to be built before you can transition to Slate and which can be put off until after the implementation.
- Determine the order you will build out business operations in Slate.
- Make sure you understand which tools in Slate support particular business operations.
- Use the Implementation Checklist for step-by-step instructions to create operations in Slate.
- Assign tasks and set due dates.