CRM 101
Author: Bill Ryder
Posted: March 6, 2013

During the summer of 2010 Portland State invested in a new software platform – Talisma Constituent/Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  CRM software may simply be defined as a system that allows for the management of interactions with an organization’s constituent base. Our constituent base in Talisma is prospective, admitted and enrolled students.  This can be expanded in the future to include: families of students; alumni; employees; high school or community college advisers and counselors; donors; or other members of the University community. The product that PSU purchased, Talisma, is owned by Campus Management Corporation.


CRM - Constituent Relationship Mgmt BI - Business Intelligence SIS - Student Information System
LMS - Learning Management System HRS - Human Resources System FMS - Financial Management System

Interactions versus Campaigns

Interactions may be broadly defined as any communication between the organization (Portland State) and a single constituent. These can be either constituent or PSU-initiated. Interactions can take many forms depending on the communication medium, or channel, through which the interaction occurs. We are primarily logging email, phone, and face-to-face interactions or meeting notes in Talisma at this time, but this can be expanded by making additional software integrations with Talisma, to include text messaging, instant messaging, and a variety of social media. As some of my colleagues like to say, “If it’s not in Talisma, it didn’t happen.”

Campaigns in Talisma are always initiated by a PSU representative; are built around a workflow; and ensure that specific individuals receive a unique communication (email, phone call, print mail, text message, etc) at a given interval (on a specific or recurring date) or in response to a specific action or lack of action (ex. document received, hold added, earned academic honors, not yet enrolled,  etc). 

To Benefit One and All

The result of logging each interaction a student has with a Talisma user is that future interactions are likely to be enhanced by the knowledge of what that student has already resolved, asked, or experienced. The next Talisma user may dispense with some of the fact-finding that requires valuable time and may begin the conversation closer to the heart of the matter. By logging and aggregating the nature of requests over time--and coupling this with demographic information about the students who are making the requests--we expect to improve our understanding of specific student needs. This understanding will, in turn, provide us with the insight necessary to become more proactive in the future. For example if we identify that there is an an influx of questions from first-generation college seniors about the process to graduate each February, we may then want to consider what information is available on relevant web pages and also begin an outgoing email campaign to notify similar students each future January.

By the Numbers

Since launching Talisma CRM at PSU in May of 2011, the following teams have been utilizing Talisma CRM: Domestic and International Admissions, Advising and Career Services, College of the Arts Advising, Enrollment Management Communication Technology, University Studies, and University Honors. They are soon to be followed by Financial Aid, the Graduate School of Education, and the School of Business Advising office. To date, there have been almost 101,000 interactions logged in Talisma for almost 60,000 constituents and we have launched 112 campaigns with a sum total of over 350,000 targets (note: each person can be a target for multiple campaigns).

The Future of Talisma at PSU

Since launching Talisma we have exceeded a number of expectations while we continue to make progress on others. In the coming months Financial Aid, the Graduate School of Education, and the School of Business will be adopting Talisma and the Academic Advising Council is considering universal adoption of Talisma by undergraduate academic advisers. Discussions are also underway about what resources and support structures might be necessary in order for Talisma to be made more widely available to units across the University.