NCSA FUELS Team Member Performance with emPerform | Quisitive
emPerform Case Study: NCSA, employee management software
NCSA FUELS Team Member Performance with emPerform
See how Quisitive helped the world's largest collegiate athletic recruiting network leverages emPerform for meaningful check-ins, online performance reviews, and more.
Next College Student Athlete (NCSA)

In this case study:

Client: Next College Student Athlete

Industry: Education

Products and Services: emPerform

Country: USA

“As we thought about progressing and modernizing our performance management process, we knew we wanted to put more emphasis on goal alignment and relevance, continuous feedback, and meaningful conversations with team members.”
Meredith Norbrook
Director, Organizational Development, NCSA

About Next College Student Athlete

Based in Chicago, IL, Next College Student-Athlete (NCSA) is the world’s largest and most successful collegiate athletic recruiting network. Founded in 2000 to help educate student-athletes and their families on the recruiting process, NCSA works with families, clubs, high school, and college coaches to help hundreds of thousands of student-athletes find their best college fit. With a network of 35,000 college coaches and more than 1,000 team members, NCSA assists student-athletes in 34 sports find their best path to college.

The Challenges

Before using emPerform, Quisitive’s employee performance management solution, the NCSA HR team relied on their existing HRIS system to administer performance reviews. Their performance management process included goal setting at the beginning of the year, mid-year reviews halfway through the year, and year-end reviews. The HR team was also using an advanced performance improvement plan (PIP) process but because their HR system could not accommodate a custom form, users had to complete and submit PIPs manually.


“As we thought about progressing and modernizing our performance management process, we knew we wanted to put more emphasis on goal alignment and relevance, continuous feedback, and meaningful conversations with team members,” said Meredith Norbrook, Director, Organizational Development at NCSA. “In today’s work environment, goals often shift significantly or even become irrelevant over time, and our more traditional goal-setting/mid-year/year-end approach didn’t provide an agile approach to keep up with the changing needs of the business.”

The Search for a New Performance Management System

The NCSA HR team set out to update their performance management process across the board. They called this initiative the FUEL Program. “As we developed our new FUEL Program, we recognized that our current performance management system did not effectively offer what we needed to execute the more modern approach. Our HRIS system was limiting and rigid, and we needed something that provided more flexibility,” said Meredith.

“We needed a system that could accommodate our multi-step PIP process in an intuitive and streamlined manner.”
Meredith Norbrook
Director, Organizational Development, NCSA

Getting Started with emPerform

The NCSA HR team took a phased approach to their emPerform implementation, focusing on developing their online PIP program before tackling the annual review process. NCSA worked closely with their emPerform implementation consultant to plan and execute a quick and smooth launch of emPerform to the company.


“The implementation team was very thorough and walked us through every step of the way, including initially helping us understand how to navigate the system, helping us translate our vision into reality, and helping to configure every minor detail of our forms. Those we worked with were patient, knowledgeable, and readily available,” said Jeralynn Makaiwi, Director of HR at NCSA.

“After considering many options, emPerform proved to be the best fit for us. The form configuration was flexible enough that we could implement our PIP process without having to compromise anything. The ability to set everything up in the configuration, from complex workflows and approvals, made the system stand out as the clear frontrunner.”
Meredith Norbrook
Director, Organizational Development, NCSA

The Results

Since launching emPerform, NCSA has been able to fully automate its custom PIP process and introduce quarterly check-ins into its annual review cycle. Its entire FUEL Program is now centralized and accessible to users year-round and has resulted in better tracking and more valuable discussions with team members.

  • Reliability and centralization of performance data
  • Real-time status tracking of reviews, PIPs, and development plans
  • Increased frequency and quality of feedback

Reliability & Centralization of Performance Data

Since using emPerform, NCAS’s HR team and managers have enjoyed the peace of mind of knowing all performance data is secure and accessible from one place and available anytime to users. “As simple as it sounds, emPerform is very reliable,” said Meredith.


“We had some challenges with our previous system where data would disappear or work would not be saved, and we have not run into any of these issues since using emPerform.”

Real-Time Status Tracking of Reviews, PIPs & Development Plans

“Implementing emPerform has allowed our HR team to have direct oversight over the status of all PIPs and EVPs that were issued, which was previously a blind spot for us,” said Meredith. “With emPerform, HR and managers can manage and track annual performance reviews, quarterly check-ins, and PIPs all in one place.”


“From an administrative perspective, emPerform has made a tremendous difference to our HR Team,” said Meredith. “emPerform has a great reporting tool that allows us to track the status of reviews and understand where everyone is in the process at any given time. emPerform keeps our performance management processes on track with targeted notifications and reminders and useful status dashboards.”

Increased Frequency and Quality of Feedback

“One of our primary goals in designing the FUEL Program and moving to a new system was to increase the frequency and quality of developmental conversations with our teams,” said Meredith, “emPerform has allowed us to incorporate quarterly conversations into our annual process seamlessly. These “light” check-ins allow teammates and managers to discuss our company’s core values, and they prompt great discussions around motivation, goals, and career aspirations. We’ve received positive feedback and heard that these quarterly conversations have been valuable to our teammates.”


NCSA plans to leverage the additional tools in emPerform to build out their FUEL Program, including getting started with emPeform’s integrated 360° reviews for multi-rater feedback.

6 Surprising Industries Ripe for Disruption by Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) can simplify the lives of workers in myriad fields by performing tasks that are typically done by humans in a fraction of the time cost. A 2019 survey by Gartner shows that 37% of organizations have implemented some form of AI, skyrocketing its investment by 270% in the past four years. Nevertheless, industries have room to grow when it comes to adopting and innovating cloud-based operations through machine learning and other AI-powered technologies.

1. Manufacturing

Automation alleviates repetitive or even dangerous tasks for manufacturing workers, while effectively streamlining operations for the businesses running such facilities. These discoveries, however, are not new, and instead can be seen throughout much of the 20th century. Notably, in 1951, George Devol conceived of the first industrial robot — the Unimate — a mechanical arm capable of moving an object from point A to point B. Otherwise known as the Programmed Article Transfer device, this mechanical arm came to fruition in the 1960s after Joseph Engelberger pitched the product as one that prioritized workers’ safety. 

Today, AI not only performs manufacturing tasks like assembling goods, but also helps conduct quality control, facilitate predictive maintenance, and reduce material waste, among other beneficial uses.   

Despite the advantages surrounding the use of AI in manufacturing, one significant downside remains. Oxford Economics predicts that up to 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide will be lost to robots by 2030. AI’s ability to cause job displacement makes the recognition of digital disruption important for industry executives and leaders to understand. With machines performing typically human-powered tasks at half the cost and twice the speed, companies may be more prone to side with the machines. Between 2000 and 2010, siding with AI was all too familiar for manufacturing workers as the industry plummeted by a third, causing nearly 6 million Americans to lose their jobs. 

2. Education

While private companies, such as IBM’s Watson Education, have created AI systems to personalize learning strategies and improve students’ academic performance, how educators leverage these tools is entirely up to them. One teacher has begun implementing AI in the classroom to auto-grade students’ schoolwork and provide insight into where they need help. School administrators are utilizing AI through virtual assistants; this technology can announce teacher absences, which classrooms need substitutes, and what forms need to be signed.

Although AI may be useful in the classroom, internet accessibility at home remains an obstacle for students across the U.S. Nearly 15% of U.S. households with school-aged children lack access to high-speed internet, creating a “homework gap” between those with access and those without. Furthermore, AI may only be beneficial as a supplement, and not as a replacement, to real one-on-one teaching and mentoring. 

There are still far more ways to utilize AI in the education sector before it truly revolutionizes the ways in which students learn. Policies regarding its application and accessibility must be prioritized. 

3. Hiring and Employee Development 

The hiring process is one more area of focus ripe for disruption by AI. The technology is essentially transforming the way in which companies recruit. With its ability to efficiently filter through applications, choose the best applicant for a position, and even seek out potential applicants, AI is providing a plethora of advantages to companies — especially their human resource departments. 

A recent survey conducted by IBM found that 50% of human resource executives understand cognitive computing has the ability to transform HR operations. Despite implementation, many businesses have yet to scale AI’s usability; a McKinsey report finds that only 21% of respondents embedded AI into multiple business units or features. As such, there is still much to be done to successfully incorporate AI into businesses and fully revamp companies’ hiring process.

Similarly, AI can be used to help develop existing employees’ talents. By pinpointing their strengths and weaknesses, AI can effectively inform managers on what their employees could improve, as well as provide personalized training programs that focus on their missing skills. 

4. Healthcare

The potential uses for AI in healthcare are seemingly endless. With myriad departments inside healthcare facilities, advanced technology could provide workers with the collectivity and consistency that they need to perform their jobs well. Just about every department inside healthcare facilities could benefit from AI. 

Clinical stage, AI-powered biotechnology company BERG utilizes the technology to forward the discovery and development of breakthrough medicines. In a 2018 Neuroscience conference, the company revealed their findings on treating Parkinson’s disease, and how they used AI to discover a correlation between chemicals in the human body that were previously unknown. 

Diagnosing and treating patients, helping senior citizens live fuller and healthier lives, and managing massive collections of patient records are just a few examples of how AI can help this sector. Despite all the advantages of AI in the healthcare sector, real challenges exist in its implementation. Electronic medical records, for instance, have not been as successful as originally thought to be, primarily due to high levels of data entry among healthcare professionals. Interoperability must remain at the forefront of developers’ minds going forward with the industry’s growth.

5. Business Intelligence

AI offers businesses the opportunity to replace old tools, become more innovative, and ultimately change the ways in which companies use their data, by means of automation, data analytics, machine learning, and natural language processing. Retrofitting businesses’ intelligence systems with this technology could help find important data points or patterns that were previously unknown.

The whole purpose of business intelligence systems is to provide companies with insights that aid in decision-making. Big data analytics effectively does this; companies using the product are 5 times more likely to make faster decisions. Banks, for instance, are utilizing AI-driven business intelligence practices to outperform competitors and receive meaningful information in ways that were previously unfeasible. 

Data may only be one way to improve business efficiency, but it is an excellent starting point for any company or department. 

6. Customer Service 

Providing product recommendations, personalizing advertising, and handling simple customer queries are just a few examples of how AI can be used to augment the customer experience. Companies can implement these practices through the use of chatbots, virtual assistants, and other AI-powered technologies.

Chatbots, for instance, provide real-time solutions to customers without the need for human interference. This software application may be used for answering questions, troubleshooting, or interacting with potential customers. It’s 24/7 availability makes it possible for customers to receive immediate answers to some of their most commonly asked questions. For more complex questions, chatbots can direct customers to the proper department. 

Personalized advertising and product recommendations are two other ways AI is revolutionizing customer service. AI’s ability to amalgamate individual customer data provides valuable insight on personal preference, as well as geographical location, weather, and even events nearby — each of which may be used to tailor a site’s content to their unique visitor needs. Customer service, as a result, is one field that would highly benefit from disruptive innovation.

The industries outlined above must all be primed for a digital transformation if they are to truly succeed in harnessing AI’s capabilities. 

Do you need a way to provide online schooling for your students? If so, you should be aware that Microsoft made the process to build your school in teams extremely easy for most educators. Microsoft has released a solution called “School Data Sync” or SDS. SDS is a free service that reads from your current student rosters and creates accounts and classes for Microsoft Teams (as well as Intune for education and 3rd party applications) to effectively build your online school. SDS can synchronize with a lot of different sources for the student and teacher roster or it can integrate vis CVS files. To utilize this solution you will have to have an EDU tenant. For questions about this check out their FAQ. If this looks like the answer for you and yours, you do not need to read further on this blog post. If not please continue on!

Why Teams? Why do I recommend Microsoft Teams?

In the first part of this blog series, I introduced a variety of options available to help schools to be able to provide online instruction including a step-by-step to set up classes on Skype. In this blog post, I will provide a step-by-step walkthrough to create your school including teachers, students, faculty and classes in Microsoft Teams for educational purposes. Additionally, I will provide information on a scripted method of automating the creation of your school in Teams provided by Matt Dowst.

While the solution I put together in the first series worked it was lacking in three major areas:

I have found a few niche-case situations which do not fit well for SDS, which are the focus of my blog post. If you are one of the following this blog post may be an approach you can use.

This blog post will cover step-by-step instructions to get your school up and running with Microsoft teams for education. At the end of this post, we are also providing a scripted version of these steps to provide a more automated solution. {For the techno-geeks who want to go straight to the cool stuff, here’s a link to the scripted solution which we call the “Fast Deploy Microsoft Teams for Education“}

Creating your first Teams account

Microsoft has stepped up and offered their collaboration solutions to the public for free during the COVID-19 outbreak. Microsoft’s offer for Teams is available here. This is what’s included:

Create an email account

Before you start, you will need to have a Microsoft account (MSA) such as,,,, or If you do not have one of these accounts, register for one first by going to sites such as and registering for your email address.

Installing Teams

To get started on this we open the link available here and register using the email discussed in the previous step (Create an email account) if this is for Business or Personal use.

Installing Teams

Educators use this link to register for Teams: Office 365 for Education sign up page. This link will give access to O365 including Teams, and specific EDU features of Teams, including Class Teams, and the ability to record meetings, along with our accessibility tools built-in. It’s an all-around better experience and completely free for educators. Here’s what you will need to provide: (Country or region, First name, Last name, school email address, school phone number, school name and school size)

Creating email account

The above form should be filled out by your IT administrator or faculty member if possible. For individual tutors, this would be filled out by the individual.

Next, you need to create your administrator’s user name as well as your password to create your account.

Creating admin user

After this process is complete you can leave the website for a bit as we’ll return back here later. To get back to the process you can go here.

Installing Teams

Teams will need to be installed on a computer for each teacher, faculty member, and student. The process is straightforward. Go to and click on the Download Teams button.

Installing Teams

Once it is downloaded, run the installation with defaults on your system.

Installing Teams

Use the account that you created in the “Creating your first Teams Account” section of this blog post.

Microsoft teams education: Installing Teams

And enter the password you configured earlier as well.

Logging in password

You should now be able to access Teams!

Activating Teams

We ran into an issue during our setup where the students were seeing a message indicating to “Ask your admin to enable Microsoft Teams for” <schoolname>. After phoning a friend, I found that these settings can be set here, and this article explains how to enable Teams for the EDU trial.

Activating Teams

So if you hit the above issue when a student is attempting to access Teams, see the paragraph above to make the required change.

Creating O365 users for teachers, faculty, and students

From the Home screen, you can now create accounts for teachers, faculty, and students.

Creating O365 accounts

If you have a file with the users you want to create (CSV file type) you can use the “Import multiple users” wizard to add these user accounts.

Importing multiple users

If not, you can create each individual user you require. To do this go to Users and then Active Users and choose the option to “Add a user”.

Adding a user

When adding a user in the Microsoft 365 admin center, it starts a four-part wizard. On the first page, you enter the First Name, Last Name, Display Name, and User name as well as settings for the password. For simplicity, I recommend using First Name.Last Name for the display name and username (example: Cameron.Fuller@<schoolsname>).

User setup - basics

Next, you assign a license depending on whether this is faculty/staff or a student. If you have the student’s email account, you can use the checkbox at the bottom to “Send password in email upon completion” so they have their account information.

Assigning a license

You should be able to take the defaults for Optional settings for teachers/faculty or students.

Setting optional settings

Click next to finish up the creation of the user!

Creating classes and assigning students/teachers to classes

To create a class, log into your Teams account and choose the option to “Join or create team”

Creating classes

Choose the option to create a Team

Creating a team

And choose the Team type of Class.

Microsoft teams education: Choose type of team

Choose a name for the class and description for it (IE: Algebra 1)

Create your Team

Next, you add your students and teacher to the class.

Microsoft teams education: Selecting a team type

The Team/Class is now created!

Scheduling classes

Now that your classes have been created and students/teachers are assigned it’s time to put the classes on the schedule so that each student can join at their regularly scheduled class time. In Teams choose the Calendar item on the left and choose the “New Meeting” option in the top right.Add a meeting/class

Choose the name of the meeting, what Team (class) it’s part of and details for the meeting. Schedule the meeting to occur on a recurring basis for the remainder of the class schedule.

Scheduling a new class

Do the above for each iteration of your classes (so if you teach Monday and Wednesday, create a meeting for the Monday class to recur and for the Wednesday class to recur).

Tips and Tricks using Teams to teach classes

Desktop sharing in Teams
Microsoft teams education: Whiteboard
Microsoft teams education: Chat window
Microsoft teams education: Changing a classes picture

You can choose from an existing set of icons or upload your own file. In the example below I am choosing the “Upload” option to upload my own graphic.

Microsoft teams education: Add a graphic

And here’s how it looks after adding a custom graphic:

Microsoft teams education: Custom graphic for class

A scripted option to automation creation of accounts and classes in Teams

Matthew Dowst has put together the “Fast Deploy Microsoft Teams for Education” and shared it in GitHub to provide scripted methods to handle the majority of the tasks required to put together a school in Teams. It’s is available here.

Additional Resources:

Thank you to Matt D and Garrett C for their contributions to this blog post! If you have questions on the content on this please reach out to me via LinkedIn!