8 Questions You Must Ask Before Making a Decision
Deloitte’s Bersin has forecast that in 2018 that money spent on school management systems (SMS) by schools would increase by 21 per cent in 2018. The aggregate budget expected in this domain is supposed to be in the region of 2.5 billion dollars. In fact, in the last couple of years – 2016 and 2017 – the money spent on SMS has increased by 52 per cent. All these are whopping figures when you come to think of them. This also means that the market for SMS or ERP (enterprise resource planning) software for schools and colleges is much stronger than in the years gone by.
All this means that choosing the right product for your school is a much trickier business than what it used to be. It is well-known that there is no single software that is going to answer all the questions that you may have. This is the reason why, at the very least, you need to find software that would solve most of the problems that you have and that too at a price that is good enough for you.
The problem with this scenario is that there are plenty of school software products on the market and this is the reason why it is so tough to choose one from them. You need to be able to decide the one that is right for your school.
Following are a few questions, answers to which would help you find the best possible solution for your school:
What are the features of the software? Will they work for you?
When you are attempting to select a school management software in 2018 the first thing that you need to ask yourself as a school, is regarding the best features of the software that you are looking to buy. What are the best features of the new software? What kind of functions is it capable of performing?
Would it suit what you need from school management software?
This would make sure that you do not end up buying something that you don’t need and, worse still, get stuck with it for a long time just because you do not have the money to buy a new one that is more commensurate to your needs.
For this purpose, you need to compare the basic features of your new product and compare them with others of your like. You should never pay for something that you do not need.
Can you get access to various platforms through mobile with the new software?
You need to make sure that the new online school management software, which you buy, should be able to provide you the capability to access data in a short span of time. This should include the all-important reports as well.
Best of all, you should be able to do this through mobile devices such as iPhone and Android phones. This way, you would be able to make decisions and that too while you are on the move. Ideally, the mobile applications should have inherent capabilities to get push notifications, track locations, receive alerts and reminders, and get data on a real-time basis.
Can it be customized?
Ideally, the school data management software that you choose should be good enough to be changed as per your requirements. The major question that you could ask over here is can the new system be changed with respect to each and every school and its needs.
Ideally, you should never get stuck with a product that cannot be customized or changed to work according to your needs and requirements. Each school out there is a unique proposition in its own sweet way. Can the simple things such as product design or theme be changed as per the requirements of the school? Can the school sort and then place the menus as per how they are going to be used?
Can it be scaled?
You also need to be sure that the management software for schools that you are using can be scaled – ideally, it should be able to adapt itself to the needs of your organization that is always going to increase on a regular basis.
It should also have a certain degree of compatibility and it should have the ability to deal competently with a lot of users, and that too at the same time. Apart from handling a large amount of inbound traffic as schools usually do, it should help you attain a certain level of growth at an organizational level as well.
Can the application be hosted on Cloud?
The work that you do by using your online school system should be capable of being hosted on Cloud.
Ideally, this should be applicable to all the work that you do with this particular software. This way, you would be able to reduce the additional costs needed to manage and operate hardware that is expensive as it is. At the same time, you would also not need to hire extra professionals for handling your information technology (IT) work. This would also mean that the data is safe and properly backed up.
Is it safe?
You may have all the features that you need from your school management software and if it is not safe then it would have come to nought.
As an organization, you need to be totally sure that your data is safe before you buy it as such. There should be built-in security features in the software itself. It would make sure that all your valuable information is properly protected.
Can it be implemented easily and quickly enough?
As an educational institute, it would always be better if you are able to implement it without any problem whatsoever and that too within the shortest of time spans. Ideally, your operations should not get bogged down just because you are implementing new software.
You can be sure that the longer and harder it takes you to implement the new software the more money it is going to end up costing you. In this case, you should also look at the track record of the software in question. How hard or easy has it been for other schools, especially ones that are similar to you, to implement this particular product? How long or short has it taken them? Facts such as these are what you should be aware of when you look to buy school management software.
Will it be accommodated in your budget?
This is perhaps the most underrated and yet the most important question of all the ones that have been posted in this piece so far. Whenever you decide to buy new software you need to be aware of the money that you would have to spend to buy it and the costs that it would incur. Will the new software fit into your budget? Does it have sufficient features as per your estimate for the price that it is asking? Are the plans that you have right now not flexible enough to the way your school is working?
At times, especially so with the better products, you may be paying a price that is more than what you wish you could pay but then the returns on investment that you get from such software would more than make up for the money you parted with to buy that software. No matter what, you must be aware of the return that you are getting from your investment in that particular software.
Some other considerations to be taken into account
Apart from this, you also need to be aware of your audience. As a school, you need to have a clear idea of whom you are buying a product and how it is going to be of benefit for them. You need to be properly aware of the needs of the intended beneficiaries of this software.
At times, you may need to use some different features such as asset and payroll management. These facilities may not necessarily be there in the educational software that you are thinking of buying at the moment. When you know who all are going to use this software and what their needs are then you would also make a better buying decision.
You also figure out if you would be able to work with the service provider in question or not. It is very important to be able to communicate properly with your software partner and understand it completely.