Get Started with Starfish (4)

What resources do we need to implement the Starfish platform?

Depending on how your project is structured, different people may be useful at different times, and your team may be made up of two people or 20. In general, you need a Project Manager to keep things moving forward, a Technical Lead who knows the ins-and-outs of the SIS and/or LMS, and a Functional Lead who focuses on how the Starfish platform will be used. And, hopefully, an Executive Sponsor to ensure that everyone stays on the right track.

Overall, the core team should plan for a solid three weeks of focused activities at the beginning of the project, followed by four hours per week for the remaining time before the go-live date. Once the Starfish platform is up and running, maintenance and troubleshooting should be minimal.

What initial training will our users need?

Most Administrator training occurs “on the job” in working sessions where the Starfish Client Success Team provides deep knowledge of the Starfish platform in the context of a client’s specific implementation. The goal is to encourage self-sufficiency by equipping Administrators with technical fluency, interface familiarity, best practices, and documentation.

For advisors, faculty and other student support personnel, no technical skills are required. The Starfish team recommends a “train the trainer” approach, where super-users introduce the Starfish platform to their colleagues through existing orientation and training programs on campus supported with our customizable learning materials.

Students typically require no formal training, although the Starfish team will provide tip sheets and other resources if they would be useful.

What training is available once we’re “live”?

We’re with you for the long haul! The Starfish Client Success Team believes your success requires both engaging new users and advancing the understanding of existing users. We hope you will participate in many of the stadium training sessions, Webinars, focus groups, client community meetings, development partnerships, Success Summits, and other special programs that we offer year-round, at no cost to our clients.

How long will it take to get the Starfish platform up and running?

Most institutions “go live” with the Starfish platform within 10 weeks from the project kick-off. Of course, this depends on many factors: the time of year, availability and coordination of resources (both yours and ours), and your institution’s specific goals. Luckily, our Client Success Team has done this hundreds of times and we can give you a better estimate once we know more about you.

Bring Starfish to Campus (4)

How can we see the Starfish platform in action?

That’s easy! Our team offers several free Webinars each month to give a general product demonstration tailored for your type of institution. We also have a variety of archived presentations available for you on demand. Of course, we would love to learn more about your specific situation so we can prepare a special presentation – either remote or onsite – for you and your team as well. Let us know the best way to contact you and arrange a session.

What does the Starfish platform cost?

The Starfish Enterprise Success Platform is licensed annually and can include one or more modules (e.g., Starfish EARLY ALERT, Starfish CONNECT). Each institution determines the “user band” that accommodates the likely number of students who will have records in the Starfish platform – it doesn’t matter if those users are part- or full-time. There is no charge for staff and faculty users; we don’t want you to be penalized for strong adoption! Your institution can also step up to the next user band or license additional modules at any time to meet your expanding implementation. To discuss your institution’s needs, let us know what you’re trying to do.

Can Starfish help with our RFI or RFP?

Yes. Our RFP team has responded to dozens of RFIs and RFPs over the years – and we have seen a lot of different approaches! We would be happy to advise your staff on some best practices as you establish requirements and prepare for your evaluation. Of course, we are also eager to respond to any request in accordance with your institution’s established procurement processes. Let us know how we can help.

Can Starfish help with our funding / grant process?

We can give you advice on some common funding vehicles and how best to navigate those grant processes. Starfish can also partner with you to provide detailed information and support for your own specific grant requests – just let us know how we can help. Finally, Starfish can occasionally subsidize relevant conference travel (just ask!). A cash stipend is also given to recipients of the annual Starfish 360 Awards.

Technical Considerations (4)

How difficult is it to push data into the Starfish platform?

It’s not difficult at all. When we first launched our software in 2007, we built a process called Intelligent Data Integration™ which uses a simple tool called the Starfish Universal Data Adapter™ to take flat, pre-formatted data files and pull those into the Starfish platform so your advisors can see everything in one place. If your institution is like most clients, you will want to extract those files yourself (don’t worry, we will help!), since you have the best insight into both your technologies and your business processes. We have detailed documentation about all of this – just ask, and we will share it with you.

What security measures are in place to protect student data?

We are proud that hundreds of institutions trust us with their most critical student information. Our ability to protect student data involves not only our technology (hardware and software), our best practices for implementation, and our personnel.

First, all database and application servers are hosted in audited facilities with state-of-the-art infrastructure, constant monitoring, and established operational policies. All communications to these servers use secure protocols. Your institution controls many factors, including authentication and the decision of which data is sent to the Starfish platform. As well, our people are well-trained on data security procedures and access is granted only under the terms of our Privileged Account Policy.

We are happy not only to provide detailed documentation upon request, but to talk with you about your security concerns so we can continue to strive for excellence in this regard.

How does the Starfish platform manage access to different information?

The Starfish platform uses a combination of roles, relationships, and privileges to manage access to information. First, each institution defines the roles and relationships that reflect how your people really work together. In most cases, administrative staff can view information about all users, but advisors and instructors only have relationships to some students. A user’s role and associated permissions also govern the availability (and control over) many other aspects of the Starfish platform, including dashboards, reports, tools, appointment types, referral types, and note types.

There are a lot of options, which is why the Starfish Client Success Team can help you decide the best ways to both protect “need to know” information and streamline common activities. The goal is to allow each faculty, program or other functional group to work with students in its own way.

What is your company’s commitment to accessibility?

Starfish is committed to providing equal access to all products regardless of age, ability, or situation. The accessibility of the Starfish applications is measured using guidelines set forth by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act issued by the United States federal government, as well as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Details about our compliance efforts – and our Voluntary Product accessibility Template (VPAT) can be provided.


Hobson’s is also committed to maintaining our WCAG 2.0 AA standard, and to ensuring Starfish is available to all students.  To that end, our efforts focus on the existing Starfish system (ongoing verification of Starfish), as well as consistent testing of new Starfish features, with each Starfish release.


Questions about our approach to accessibility and design decisions should be posted in Compass (https://hobsons.force.com/compass/s/).

Hobsons is committed to supporting our education clients. See our COVID-19 updates and resources