A popular model in the business world that, if you ask me, has yet to makes its way into the K12 education sector in a big way is customer relationship management, also known as a CRM. Essentially, a CRM allows companies to standardize and track activities relating to existing customers, clients, and sales prospects.
Granted, school districts don’t really have customers per se, but teachers still have quite a few parents and other people to keep track of besides students. So how can you best do that?
The Highrise webapp, by the software company 37signals, is a popular CRM that you can implement easily in your classroom to keep track of all parent-teacher interactions. Here is how you can set it up and start creating efficiency and ease when working with your school community.
How To Use Highrise For Parent-Teacher CRM
Signing up is pretty easy. So easy, in fact, that I’m sure you’ll be able to get going without my help. :-) After you have an account and have logged in, you’ll be greeted with the basic home screen.
Adding contacts is as easy as hitting the big blue button at the top, helpfully labelled Add Contact. Simply type in some basic information about the person you’d like to add and then hit the Add The Person button at the bottom. Here you can see how I’ve filled out the information for a fictional parent of a student in my class:
Now Highrise will take you to your new contact’s page. From here, you can add notes to the contact as well as follow-up tasks. (Note that, for the super organized, you can also upload your contacts from a CSV or Outlook file.)
Adding Notes and Tasks
For example, say Becky Robertson called in and volunteered to be a chaperone on a class field trip. All I would do is add that to a note in her profile, and maybe also add a follow-up task to remind me to call her back.
These few activities show you the very basics of Highrise and how you can use it to organize and track all your interactions with parents.
Using “Cases” for Organization
Since Highrise was designed to be a CRM, some of it’s functions aren’t named for education purposes, but the applications are just the same. The “cases” function is one of those. Basically, it just helps you keep related emails, notes, files, and so on, all together on the same screen, sort of like a folder on your computer.
This is useful, for example, for students who are on an IEP, where you’ll want to keep all the related documents and such in one area for easy reference.
To create a case, simply choose Cases from the menu on the left, and then hit the Add Your First Case button. Once you’ve started a case, you can add contacts, tasks, and other things to it so that you can see everything on one screen.
You can see how notes are added to the case just like blog entries, with the newest ones at the top. Tasks associated with the case are on the left, as is contact info for any people you’ve added to the case.
So there you have it! Without too much trouble, you can get set up on Highrise’s free plan and start managing your parent interactions today.
Understandably, there are some features that don’t make much sense for educators, like the “Deals” section. That said, I think Highrise could be useful for teachers who regularly come into contact with a lot of people and need a tool to help keep track of their interactions.
Let us know in the comments how you manage to keep everything straight!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, paul bica