My role: user experience, user interface
Jenzabar provides higher education institutions around the world with products and services including enterprise resource planning (ERP), student information systems (SIS), eLearning, analytics, and student retention.
Colleges and universities need to know when their students are struggling. Tuition is a school's primary source of income and student persistence and retention is important in so many ways for every institution. A student's success or failure can be affected by a broad range of factors. Bringing together all of these factors and other critical information to give a student success team a complete picture of every student and their likelihood of retention is an ongoing challenge at most schools.
Jenzabar Retention is a complete student retention management system combining predictive data modeling with an early warning system and other tools to highlight students that are at risk of leaving their institution, and provide student success managers with the tools they need to intervene.
Our team was in nearly constant contact with many of our end users. We ran individual and group user interviews, met regularly with a product advisory council, met with customers at Jenzabar’s annual conference called JAM, and ran our own conference specifically about student retention in higher education in conjunction with Carroll University. We also ran an email list specific to the product, and our services team and project manager were former end users and maintained regular contact with key users at customer sites.
I worked closely with a product manager to filter through this feedback, map it to our known personas and scenarios, and create user stories from it to figure out the best way to meet the unique needs of our users. As I designed new workflows and screens to address these needs, we tested them and iterated on them until we were confident that we had a good solution. Once the designs were ready, I worked with our engineers to scope them, break them down into Agile friendly parts, and spec them. As our engineers built new features and made updates to the product, I worked closely with them to make sure they had everything they needed, then did a final round of testing myself to make sure everything was working properly. When a release was finished we ran pilot and beta programs with customers before the final release, gathering last minute feedback while we fixed any remaining quirks or bugs.
Retention was my primary responsibility for the last 4 years I was at Jenzabar. In that time we released eight major versions of the product, adding considerable new functionality to respond to clients needs and feedback.
At the time, student retention was an emerging field. We didn't have an industry leader to emulate. Toward the end of my tenure at Jenzabar our sales teams had started to hear from our emerging competition that Jenzabar Retention was the product they were trying to catch up with.