If you are in the leadership team of an educational institution, you might have tried at least one school management software. You might have also been intrigued by the complexity in the way different school management software tools are priced. Different pricing methods exist in the market and some pricing models can be confusing for first-time buyers.
There are hundreds of school management software available with various features and pricing. This article will serve as a primer to anyone considering to purchase a new school management software or to replace the existing software in their institution. This article is applicable not only to schools but also to colleges and other training centers.
Pricing of school management software
Free School Management Software –
Some software is provided at free of cost. Usually a free school management software if not open source will be a freemium product or service. In a freemium product, you can start using the product and service for free but will have to start paying after your usage reaches a certain threshold. You must be aware of the limit before you start implementing a freemium school management software in your institution.
Opensource School Management Software –
Some software is available as open-source. Here you can download or purchase(open source does not always mean free of cost) the software and can host the software on your server. There are advantages like customization and flexibility but also there are various technical limitations for a normal school to run on open-source software if proper technical support is not available. In case you have a strong technical faculty within the institutions, this is something you can opt for.
Free and Open Source School Management Software –
There are some software which are open source as well as free to access and download anytime without taking permission. Similar to the above scenario, this can work if you have a technical faculty who understands the software code and can implement the same within your institution.
Per User Pricing –
Paid school management software comes with a variety of pricing models. One of the most widely implemented methods is pay per user. With this pricing model, for small schools with less than 200 students will have to pay a smaller price compared to the schools with 1000+ students. Features will be almost the same in both the scenarios. You have to check in advance if the parents and teachers user accounts are included in the selected pricing. Most of the school management software provides login access to both the parents. So in a school with 1000 students and 100 faculty, the total users can be 1000 students + 2000 parents + 100 faculty = 3100. So check with your vendor if these 3100 user ids are available with the pricing for 1000 students. Also keep in mind the number of students joining and leaving the institution next year and check how this is considered in the pricing. Also do not forget to ask if the licenses are renewed yearly.
Flat pricing (Per Institution per year) –
To avoid the above complexity in pricing, many vendors have implemented the flat pricing of charging per institution and providing unlimited user licenses. With the emergence of cloud computing, the hosting cost has drastically come down and this allowed the vendors to give freedom in the number of user licenses. Institutions are charged a flat fee per year. The pricing varies from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars depending on the vendor and institution.
Feature-based pricing –
Some vendors provide the school management software packaged in different plans separated by features. So small schools can choose the minimum plan to start with and large institutions can purchase the higher-level plans. If such pricing is presented, go through the demo of the software to understand each of the features in-depth and find out if the selected plan will be enough for the institution this year and in coming years.
3. Combo pricing
Most of the software vendors in the market will have a combo pricing which combines all the three pricing strategies from above. Incase of combination pricing, you can calculate the total cost of ownership(tco) by gathering the total cost to pay to the vendor if the software is used for the next 3 to 5 years. Find out how the various elements like student numbers, number institutions, features, etc. change the pricing of the software this year and coming years.
Factors to consider while choosing School Management Software
- AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract)
One thing that most of the schools miss out while purchasing school management software is the AMC involved from second year. You must check in advance the various pricing that will be applicable throughout the lifetime of the software in your institution. A good timeline is to consider the next 3 to 5 years. Ask the vendor the license renewal as well as separate AMC fees if any.
- SMS / Email
The school management software communicates to parents and teachers through SMS notifications. As these bulk SMS carry a cost, check with the vendor, whether this price is included within the package or separate fee is applicable to purchase the bulk SMS. Also collect information on SMS usage statistics by schools of similar user licenses.
Nowadays most of the school management software is available as SaaS where the licensing includes the hosting price. Incase if you are purchasing an enterprise package, there will be separate hosting charges applicable. Check in advance if any separate hosting fees are involved outside the license fee.
- Online Fee Payment
Most of the parents now pay school fees online. Check with your vendor about the payment gateway integrations available and see if any separate charges are applicable in fee transactions. This can be above the licensing fee of the software.
- GPS Tracking & RFID/Barcode Integration
Enhanced features in school management software like GPS tracking of transportation vehicles, RFID/Barcode integration, etc. require separate hardware and installation procedures. So check with the vendor the pricing for these features and hardware.
It is the responsibility of the vendor to provide backups of data in case the software malfunctions and also for safe storage for future use. Ask the vendor in advance for the backup service and if any cost is involved.
- Technical Support
Other than the feature support, sometimes your users will require technical support for implementing advanced functionality of the software. Check with the vendor if the technical support is included in the package and if yes what are the limitations if any.
- Mobile App
Mobile app of school management software is a premium feature which the schools will have to pay a separate fee. Some vendors include mobile apps in the same pricing package. Check with vendors the pricing as well as the features of the mobile app. Check if both Android and iPhone apps are available and if yes, the fees associated with the same.
- 3rd Party Integrations
Along with the school management software, you will come across the need to integrate other software and hardware for enhanced usage. Check if any extra fees applicable for integrations and API access.
From the above article it should be clear to you by now, the different complexities involved in pricing of a school management software. With this awareness, you can now evaluate the different software that vendors present to you. If you need more expertise on the same, contact us.