CUnet a Nelnet CompanyCUnet delivers industry-leading technology, media, and marketing services to more than 1,000 colleges and higher education institutions across the US and Canada to help reach, recruit and enroll the right students.  Driven by a commitment to technology leadership, regulatory compliance, and exceptional customer service, CUnet’s higher education experts partner with schools to improve marketing performance and deliver qualified inquiries that meet enrollment and retention goals.  With over 8 years’ experience in overseeing online marketing initiatives, CUnet offers one of the most experienced teams of interactive marketers in the higher education space.

CUnet is a subsidiary of Nelnet which is one of the leading education and finance companies in the US.  Nelnet provides quality student loan products and services to students, as well as a full range of student-lending services and technology-based products to schools nationwide. This includes student loan origination and lending, holding, student loan and guarantee servicing, and software solutions.

Nelnet (NYSE: NNI), based in Lincoln, Nebraska, ranks among the nation’s leaders in terms of total student loan assets under management with $26.3 billion in net student loan assets as of March 31, 2008.

Nelnet is well positioned to capitalize on industry growth. Its sophisticated technology and software products allow the company to service loans both internally and for third parties, which facilitates the company’s position as a preferred originator and holder of loans for schools and borrowers.

Business Need:

With CUnet managing campaigns for so many different colleges and institutions, processing and handling requests and changes to their information and requirements created an ongoing challenge.  In an average week, CUnet receives more than 1,100 requests from 65 different clients.  In addition, with numerous combinations of secondary vendors being engaged for fulfillment of campaigns for each client, the number of modifications to track grew exponentially.  As this continued to scale, it was often difficult for the office managers to determine whether each vendor had made all of the required changes for every client request timely, or at all.  CUnet utilized numerous copies of local spreadsheets to manage this process, which led to confusion about which was the most recent version and who was working on or managing which request.  In addition, this process provided almost no visibility for management and no metrics by which to measure success or failure.

CUnet needed a solution that was easy to use, centralized, and would provide both a comprehensive view for the customer management and vendor management teams so they could both quickly see what tasks were requested and completed by the clients/vendors.

The Solution:

CUnet engaged HighGear’s Professional Services team to design a solution based on the HighGear Task Management System.  The goals were an easy to use, consistent, and automated solution providing a unified account management system for two related organizations with distinct tracking needs.  HighGear now manages the assignment of the appropriate internal and external resources automatically and simultaneously, and immediately notifies them of the steps required to complete customer requests when those requests are received.  The HighGear system now makes these open requests highly visible, manageable and accountable.  Utilizing this centralized solution, CUnet has subsequently been able to implement and tightly integrate a relational matrix which allows HighGear software to assign internal resources to manage specific Schools or clients as well as specific Vendors.  The total solution now dynamically recognizes which Schools and Vendors are associated to a request and assigns the necessary tasks to the appropriate internal resources to ensure that the Customer or Vendor is interacting with the right people for all requests and increasing the strength of the relationship.  HighGear core functionality is leveraged to manage each request from beginning to completion, and the solution dynamically creates follow up audit requests to ensure the Vendors are in compliance to the School’s requests.

Overall, user training and adoption has been successful, with existing associates taking 2 to 3 months to fully adopt the system and begin to realize the true value of HighGear.  On average, new associates are able to acclimate and adapt within a week, as they have no previous experience to adjust from.


CUnet has been utilizing their HighGear solution for approximately one year, and today they have brought their vendor completion rate from under 70% to over 96% and are now completing more than 75% of their tasks in less than two days.  HighGear software has enabled CUnet to record metrics such as the number of tasks (both open and completed) per client or vendor, the time spent to complete tasks by different vendors and internal resources, and other measures of business value.  The most valuable reports provided by this solution are those that display the overall throughput of the organization.  By analyzing all of the data at once, CUnet is able to identify trends by team members, clients, and vendors that would have been impossible to understand prior to having the data aggregated into one system and each task systematically tracked through the entire workflow.  In addition, utilizing HighGear and having a well-defined task management structure in place has allowed for the rapid addition of a new team into the business process which ensures that each vendor is compliant with and remains in compliance with the School’s requests and performance expectations.  This in turn has created the opportunity for CUnet to expand the list of services provided to their customers.  Jeff Herz, Director, Internal Operations, said “We are much more adaptable now, able to identify business problems and then build a process around that problem and automate it very quickly.  Thanks to HighGear, the automation is probably now the fastest piece of that puzzle.”

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About Matt Rodenbaugh

Matt leads HighGear’s Professional Services team and is responsible for defining, designing and delivering successful customer projects and teaching all training sessions.

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