Leveraging Opportunities Vs Custom Object vs Eda Application to track applications for higher ed salesforce users

If you are in higher education and are in the initial stages of setting up Salesforce for your  University campus-wide or for a department, the question of handling applications is a challenge? Why would this be a challenge? Well, If you have managed packages like Target X or Enrollment Rx, they use a custom object called Application. For those who use the interactions package, leveraging opportunities as an application object is a solution. On top of it, EDA released the application as a standard object.  Really!!  🙄  Now I need to worry about 3 objects and figure out which would be the best strategy? Do you see the dilemma!!!

I want to thank  John Radcliffe and  Brian Karcinski  who were instrumental in starting and contributing to this challenge in power of us hub  which inspired me to create this blog.

Using Leads and Opportunities for Applications.

If you plan to use interactions package which is an open source package created by the University of Miami, you can use leads that would be auto-converted to contacts and opportunities. How does this work?

  1. Leveraging record types, an opportunity with an application record type will be used to store applications
  2. For RFI forms and other inquiries, a separate record type can be used.


  1. Can leverage Salesforce CRM capabilities like forecasting, pipeline management in future for reporting
  2. Plays well if you use interaction package which can be mapped to dedupe and create leads and opportunities.
  3. It plays well for executive ed, non-credit programs which have a dollar amount
  4. You can easily measure campaign ROI using out of the box campaign influence and campaign management features which would be great for marketing.


  1. If you use managed packages like targetx , enrollment rx, they have application as custom object. so you would need to create an automation to even leverage opportunities
  2. Not many universities use amounts on opportunities and do not have financial aid info in salesforce. so with no amounts for your programs in courses, this may be detrimental. So does not play well for grad and undergrad which are credit-based programs
  3. Opportunities do not have a lookup to contact by default and so you have to leverage opportunity contact role or build a custom field. So this would result in your lead conversion solution to handle it.

Leveraging a custom Object called Application to handle applications.

Here you would end up creating a custom object called Application to handle applications. How would this work?

  1. If you are staring now, you should use the EDA application object as the object instead of creating a new one.
  2. In a scenario you had already created the application object, make sure you have a lookup to the contact than a master detailed. Guess why?? To leverage flexible security. So if you want to share applications between departments based on programs, a lookup relationship helps. A master-detail will lock you on the parent and will create a lot of problems to share applications between all departments. So avoid it!! Folks using Targetx will resonate on it.. 😆


  1. EDA has an application object now and all managed packages have it. so you are in the best practice area
  2. It gives you the flexibility to build an application process around it like documents, reviews, and other processes.
  3. Using a lookup as a contact on the application provides you flexible security to share applications across different programs.


  1. If you want to track dollar amounts or want to track campaign ROI from a marketing standpoint, you need to build custom solutions to do this.
  2. If you have multiple orgs with managed packages like target x, enrollemnt rx and plan for campus-wide implementation, you can end up with duplicate objects storing application data which can be pain from an enterprise-wide integration.

So How do you decide between both options?

  1. If you are an executive education school or want to leverage applications for non-credit courses and have dollar amounts for your applications, opportunities will be a good choice.
  2. If you are a Grad or Under Grad school or department and want to track programs only and do not have the total revenue on a program level, EDA application or a custom application object will be the best choice.

What to do with the new EDA application object If you are already using managed packages application or opportunity object?

I would say there are going to be a lot of features built around EDA in the roadmap and you want to use it in a minimal way. So here is what you can do.

  1. Create a lookup field on EDA application for the custom application object or opportunity.
  2. Build automation where once an application record is created, you should insert a record in EDA application with just ids.
  3. At some point, you can do a data migration of your existing applications to the EDA application object.
  4. By doing this and at some point you want to only use the EDA application object, you can easily migrate to the EDA application object.

I hope this post helped you to make the right decision. As always please feel free to email me at buyan@eigenx.com for further questions or feel free to post your comments below. You could also reach out to John and Brian as well for questions and please check them out on their linked in profile which you can see below by clicking on their name.

John Radcliffe

Brian Karcinski

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Author: buyan47

Hi there! My name is Buyan Thyagarajan. I am a Salesforce consultant specializing in Higher Education, Manufacturing and Marketing Automation. My blogs will help you to maximize your Salesforce CRM investments, prevent problems beforehand and make the right decisions. If you need to talk to me right away, you can email me at buyan47@gmail.com or call me at 302-438-4097

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