Startup Successes: Trellis CRM Year 1

Feb. 3, 2020


Trellis Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) is celebrating its first year of partnerships with students and departments from across the university! Already these collaborations have produced product launches and are a catalyst for widespread change and optimization.

Trellis CRM originated in January 2019 from the University of Arizona Strategic Plan. Under Pillar 5, "Institutional Excellence", the program is one of many key initiatives to help support the vision of a best-in-class, innovative university culture.


The First Wave of Trellis Solutions

In 12 months, Trellis has taken significant strides in establishing fundamental CRM capabilities. More solid understanding around constituent needs and a direct partnership with users, fast-tracked the release of Trellis Progress, Trellis Advise, and Trellis Social in 2019.

All three products bring a modernized, digital approach to communications and improve the university's ability to serve its students, staff, and faculty.

  • Trellis Progress was built through a joint effort with the Student Success & Retention Innovation (SSRI) team. This convenient, comment-based feedback system was released on August 26, 2019 and provides instructors, graduate assistants, and teaching assistants with the ability to send timely, custom progress reports and guide students to helpful academic resources available on campus and online. Trellis Progress helps support Strategic Plan initiatives under Pillar 1: The Wildcat Journey, including 1.4A1 Analytics Engine and 1.4A2 Retention Playbook.

  • Trellis Advise was released on November 29, 2019, after extensive beta testing and product refinement with Advising Resource Director Roxie Catts and the advising community. This new user-friendly scheduling and communications platform allows advisors and students to seamlessly schedule and manage their academic appointments. The tool also helps support 1.4A3 One Team, One Dream by helping to "ensure a consistent and high-quality student experience campus-wide."

  • Trellis Social debuted in November 2019 as the university's enterprise social media management and social listening platform. Arizona will use it to strengthen its brand and its community's voice, as well as foster more timely and engaging content for meaningful dialogue. In partnership with Arizona Social, the team is currently in the process of training additional content users. 400 social channels are expected to be onboarded during its ongoing implementation.

Each Trellis product has the benefit of being a university-owned enterprise system, with shared data and integrative capabilities. Additionally, a CRM strategy allows the university as a whole to personalize interactions with each of its constituents.

By leveraging technology and enterprise collaboration, three important outcomes can begin to take place. The university is beginning to optimize digital experiences, enable effective engagement, and empower human interactions.

Informing CRM Development & Solutions

University people and processes are complex. The Trellis team uses various means to draw out and explore valuable feedback for future CRM solutions.

Journey Mapping Workshops are a fun and interactive way to discuss and critically think about the student's digital experience at the university. Students and staff use thought-provoking questions, conversations, and post-it note displays to voice factors and moments that have led to a positive or frustrating experience. 

In 2018, the UITS Student & Academic Technologies team explored the journey of first-year students.

As part of ongoing research to learn more about student needs, Trellis’s 2019 series of Journey Mapping Workshops focused on the student's entire digital lifecycle from prospect to enrollment to graduation, alumni, and beyond. The goal was to create a shared understanding around the digital ecosystem that University of Arizona students use to navigate their academic journey. This understanding included the catalog of digital tools and the variety of their visual experiences, information collection and display, the timing and context of students’ engagement, and overlaps and gaps in systems.

By December 2019, the team hosted 37 workshops and design sessions with over 280 students, faculty, staff, and industry partners alone.

Additional methods of research carried out by the product strategy team include digital surveys, on-campus interviews, college and department "Listening Tour" sessions, "Design Studios, "Tiny Cafes", and discussions with focus groups to explore needs.

"Trellis is committed to a user-centered approach for any product we develop and deliver," says Product Strategy Lead Meredith Aronson. "As such, it's essential that we have a range of ways to connect with our prospective and current users across the product development cycle."

What's to Come?

The team is already moving forward on a second wave of solutions for the university.

The Trellis Student Service Expansion project is taking core services from Trellis Advise and expanding its model to units such as Arizona GlobalThrive CenterThink TankSALT CenterSTEM Learning CenterScholarships & Financial Aid, and more. The project kicked off on January 7, 2020 and the team is currently assessing each unit's needs.

The Trellis Events Lite project kicked off on January 23, 2020 and will be a phased development of a university-wide event management tool. In partnership with Arizona Marketing & Communications, Trellis will initially focus on simple and one-time, free events then begin to solution for complex, paid, recurring, and donor-related events.

The Trellis Marketing implementation team continues to have critical discussions around configuration, management, and support of the system. On December 31, 2019, the first university-wide email send took place, announcing discounted tickets for the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl. Because of the system's powerful usage capabilities and data integration needs, the team is carefully testing and preparing the tool for Arizona's marketing community.


Stay tuned for more information:

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