Skip to Content

Is HEDA Right For Your Higher Ed Institution?

By July 12, 2016

Introducing HEDAOn March 1st, launched the Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA), a community-driven data architecture and set of best practices designed to configure Salesforce out of the box for Higher Ed. Since then, the response from the community has been incredible (thank you!) – we’ve seen standing room only sessions at our Higher Ed Summit 2016 in New Orleans, amazing attendance on our webinars, great questions and collaboration in the HEDA Power of Us group, and most importantly, a growing number of institutions beginning to build out their own Connected Campus vision – using HEDA as a foundation for success.

Throughout the last few months, a common question coming from customers is – “Is HEDA right for my institution?

This is a great question, an important one to ask, and a fantastic opportunity to open a dialogue regarding the flexibility we’ve built into HEDA. The short answer is if you are starting a new project or org, then yes, we highly recommend HEDA!

Where do we recommend starting? That’s where the value of HEDA’s flexibility and customization comes in. HEDA allows customers to get started with Salesforce anywhere on campus– from the Admissions Office to the Advancement Office– and expand in any number of directions.

When the team designed HEDA, our #1 goal was customer success. That’s why we created a data architecture that is as powerful as it is minimal in design. The driving idea behind HEDA was to create a common framework for success while allowing schools significant flexibility in terms of how to envision their own solution. This is important and really at the heart of how HEDA enables innovation.

Let’s take a look at three different use cases for HEDA implementation starting points. In the cases below, you can see how HEDA can help build admissions, career services, and alumni engagement solutions to ultimately give you a 360 degree view of every student.


The HEDA Relationships and Affiliations objects are a great fit for scenarios where you’re working with a prospect and learning information over time. As soon as you begin engaging with a prospect, you can create a Contact and an Administrative Account and begin using Affiliations and Relationships as you gather more data.

For example, let’s say the prospect went to Normal High School and volunteered for a nonprofit called City Parks. With HEDA, the prospect’s contact record would be affiliated with both the Normal High School and City Parks accounts. As you learn more, you can affiliate the prospect with an academic program of interest and even use relationships to connect the individual with parents or other key contacts throughout the admissions process.

Career Services

You can also use Affiliations and Relationships to understand how a student is connected to academic programs, student groups, advisors, tutors, and more. This is great for targeting outreach to students who might be interested in a career fair or perhaps an upcoming info session about internships. You can also use HEDA’s Course, Term, and Course Offerings to better understand a student’s area of interest and connections with faculty members.

As a student begins an internship or finds a job, you can add another Affiliation, this time with their employer. As you can see, a student can have a variety of affiliations, all of which have roles and statuses so you can understand both the history of their engagement on campus as well as their current activity.

Alumni Engagement

Many schools are revolutionizing the way they communicate with alumni, and HEDA is the perfect foundation to develop more innovative ways to engage alumni. Because of the flexibility offered by Affiliations, you’re able to define all sorts of account record types and associated affiliation types. This means that you can track alumni employment history, engagement with alumni associations, involvement with mentoring programs, and more by using Affiliations, then defining values for each type of relationship. For example, you may have different fields for an Affiliation with an alumni group versus an employer affiliation. That’s exactly what HEDA allows and encourages.

When thinking about alumni outreach, more and more schools want to access data from earlier in the student journey, like what faculty member taught each student and which clubs were they in. This is not only a great way to develop personalized outreach, but also one of the primary use cases we considered when developing HEDA.

These are just a few examples, and as you can see, the possibilities are limitless with HEDA. It’s designed to work well for a very focused use case as well as use cases that span the student journey.

As always, is committed to your success and welcomes your feedback and participation as you move forward with HEDA. What better way to engage than by having you ask questions in the Power of Us Hub HEDA group, read our online documentation, and connect with one of our many partners who can help you bring your ideas to life while setting you up for long term success with our new Higher Ed Data Architecture.