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The Common App goes forward

The Common App organization plans to improve how IT decisions are made and implemented.
The Common App organization plans to improve how IT decisions are made and implemented.
Nancy Griesemer

In its report to the Common Application Board of Directors, the Censeo Consulting Group made a series of recommendations for both the Board and membership to consider. At the top of the list was opening pathways to greater communication, which was characterized as “cumbersome and inconsistent.”

Using findings from surveys conducted throughout December and January, Censeo pointed out failures in the rollout of the CA4—the Common Application’s new software product. The bottom line was that management failed to communicate effectively with stakeholders including members and counselors, as well as students and their families.

To begin the process of repairing a system that has grown beyond its current management structure, Censeo offered a series of broadly outlined suggestions for going forward. The Board has already begun discussions around several of the recommendations and hopes to extend the conversation to “chief admissions officers” over the few weeks as colleges decide whether or not to renew their memberships by April 14.

Here are some planned improvements based on recommendations provided in the report circulated to members by the Board:

  • Member input. The Board will revisit the processes for gathering member input in the hope that more deans and directors will be involved in the evolution of the CA4 system.
  • Change. The Common App will focus on “member driven changes that benefit a broad range of members, not just one or a very few.”
  • Communications. The executive leadership will remain committed to its guiding principle of “proactive, timely, and transparent communication.”
  • Mission. While "listening to membership, evaluating the environment, and assessing organizational and Board capabilities," the Board will reconsider the Common App mission and plan for the future of the organization.
  • Pricing. As the current pricing structure may be “at odds” with the Common App mission, the Board will evaluate different pricing options (this recommendation has been tabled for consideration later).
  • Board Composition. As the organization has grown and changed, the Board has made no changes in composition. It may be a good idea to engage member CIO’s and CFO’s as Board members, as well as to make changes in committee structure or appoint appropriate advisory councils (another recommendation that appears to have been tabled for now).
  • Management. Leadership needs to better “identify and measure appropriate business and technology metrics” to support improvements in processes. The organization will improve how IT decisions are made and implemented.
  • Reorganization. To minimize the distraction from the ongoing shift to independence (bringing all functions in-house), the Common App will “reconsider and adjust the timing the staff and office relocation.”
  • CA4. The Common Application will improve technical testing and implement other improvements that “will make the back end of the system function at the highest possible level.”

With these and other recommendations, the Common Application Board of Directors believes the organization has already greatly improved planning and decision-making. As institutions are asked to recommit to membership, the goal is for a “successful implementation and delivery of the CA4 system this summer with sufficient time for member education and testing.”