IRIS Project

No plan survives first contact

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So, I know you’re all immediately thinking, ‘oh good, someone else from Leadership telling me why IRIS is so centrally important to my life,’ but let’s keeps things in perspective, get over that for a moment and begin. IRIS came early to Admissions - we were ‘lucky’ enough to be the first to embark on the IRIS journey with the launch of Slate, our new CRM (sorry, jargon but meaning customer relationship management for the uninitiated) software in Summer 2021.  I say ‘lucky’ quite simply because we had no idea of the extent of the impact on our working lives this implementation was going to have.  Sure, we’d researched Slate, attended webinars, read blogs and spoken to colleagues who were already using it, but really, were we prepared?  The simple answer is ‘of course not.’ Things were tricky from Day One, even with a Slate professional in ITS appointed and a very dedicated point-person in Admissions to oversee everything.  Like many aspects of life at AUP, the informal aspects of our admissions approach, at both undergraduate and graduate, collided with the order imposed by any project of this nature.  Irrespective of the deep and broad planning we thought we’d done, the early days of Slate were seriously painful for a lot of people, in and out of Admissions.  But our reaction?  To press on, dealing with each unintended consequence as it came towards us in an open, efficient and flexible way as possible.  That’s just the nature of any project like this when there is a system with limitations and there are people involved and it’s not a million miles away from the adage, ‘no plan survives first contact.’   Am I trying to leave you with a catalogue of valuable lessons we learned in our first bit of the IRIS project?  Not at all (no one’s probably reading anyway), but there are a few things to bear in the back of your mind as IRIS continues on its’ merry way.  Firstly, know that our institutional lives will be individually and collectively much better for what’s happening now – it’s no coincidence that four of AUP’s best and largest intakes (including Fall 2023) have come by using Slate.  It might not feel like it right now, but IRIS will be positive and transformational.  Secondly, changing plans is to be expected as IRIS continues – the theory and the practice have to be, to an extent, movable and flexible.  Again, this is just how it is and now is not the time to dig-in.  And perhaps lastly, IRIS is already happening and changing AUP – there’s no avoiding it.  Yes, change and adapting to new things can be frightening, but knowing these things from the start makes it easier to get on board.