Introducing School Management Software in your school will make work easier for your staff, faculty, students and parents. The first question that you will face after you have decided to introduce school management software is – ‘How do I evaluate software and choose the best one?’
In this blog we will give a step by step guide to choose the Best School Management Software.
Assessing your own needs is an important groundwork that you need to do before setting out to choose a school management system. Ask yourself some questions before evaluating options in the market.
- Why do you want to purchase school management software?
- What problems are you trying to solve with this software?
- How will it make your school better?
- What is your budget?
- What are the absolute necessary features you want and what are good to have features?
After you have a clear answer to all of these, follow this step by step guide to find the perfect software for your school/ institute
Step 1: Make Request for Quote
Make a request letter inviting proposals from vendors. This will include the answers to above questions. Note down clearly what you want from school management software as per your understanding. This may change as your understanding of the software increases.
Step 2: Select Vendor and request Demo
After you receive quotations you must evaluate them on past experience, references and reviews. Look at the past projects of the vendors. Sometimes vendors specialize in market based on size of school, region and structure of school (private vs. public). A vendor who has served schools similar to yours is likely to understand your concerns better.
Ask the vendor for the demo of the software. This will give you hands on experience of what you are purchasing and what features it offers. You may have some queries after operating the software yourself. Ask the vendor for clarifications and any suggestions on what features will be best for your school.
Step 3: Assess Change Requirements
Migrating to a new system is a big change for your staff, faculty and students. Talk to them about it and ask them what features they would like to see. Involve representatives from staff, faculty and students in the demo in previous step to gain their confidence.. They may even come up with ideas and suggestions that you had previously missed out.
Also prepare for any infrastructure and personnel changes you may require. You may require purchasing new servers, desktops, biometric equipments, data capturing machines, etc. Will there be a requirement of full time IT personnel? Talk to your vendor to make sure you are aware of all the investment you will require in infrastructure.
Step 4: Decide on the Offering and Terms
This is perhaps the most important step, especially for someone who has not purchased software before. You must be clear on the post-sales support and service that the vendor will give you. Since IT is not your core skill, you will require initial training, on call assistance and on-boarding.
Most of the software providers offer flexible options with multiple modules and servicing terms. You will have to choose the one that best fits you. Consider following points while customizing the best software for you:
Student information system, attendance, report generation, fee management, enrollment, parent log-in, teacher-parent messaging platform are some of the core features you must have.
Apart from these you may choose additional modules based on your requirement and budget. Some of the common add on features are transport tracking, library, online examination, payment gateway integration, data import-export, etc.
You can also request your vendor for any customized feature that you require.
- Data Security
School management software must have tight security feature to ensure that student data is safe at all times. Be sure to enquire about data encryption. It is also important to have a back-up plan in case of data loss. Will the software be provided as a cloud service or will it be on premise? Always have a back-up of your data in multiple locations to avoid data loss.
Your school is going to grow as years pass by. A good school management should be easily scalable as the number of students and faculty grows. Ask your vendor if any upgrades will be required in case of growing numbers.
Ideally school management software must be simple and intuitive in handling. However, some features may require training for your staff and faculty. Decide on the training and support from vendor before start of the contract. Some providers give on-site training support while others give a free-on call support for a limited amount of time.
Service terms will take care of solutions in case of any problems in operating the software. You must decide on any charges for service; mode of service i.e. on-site, on-call or remote access and period for any free service.
- Payment Terms
There are many payment terms available for school management software. Some charge fixed monthly payment while others charge annually. Some charge per student while others have a mix of fixed monthly and variable per student. If comparing the various payment methods is confusing, you can convert all of them into a uniform annual estimate.
Be sure to discuss any maintenance costs, servicing costs, data hosting costs and credit terms before finalizing.
Step 5: Install Software
Final step is to install the software and start operating. Have all the terms discussed above on record to avoid misunderstanding. Take support of your vendor during the initial phase and enjoy the ease of work that comes with school management system.
Introducing a school management system will impact your school for many years in future. You must take your time working out all the details and choosing your partner for this change. Always choose a reputed vendor who is invested in you over the long term.