Investing in a school management system is a big step. The school invests not just money but also a lot of effort and time.
You will see a plethora of options once you start looking for school ERPs. Should you choose a standard or a customized ERP? Is the transport add – on required for you? How do you compare per student quote to a fixed monthly quote? Choosing the right vendor can be confusing with so many options in the market.
In this blog we will share with you the important criteria to consider before choosing a vendor for your school ERP system. However, it is important to assess your own requirements before you approach vendors.
Below are some questions you can start with:
• What are the absolute necessary features you want? For most schools these are online teaching modules and assessment, reporting, fee management, time table and school calendar.
• What are the good to have features? These could be library integration, transport, biometric attendance, parent communication platform, student’s app etc.
• What is your budget?
• How much of resources can you give for ERP? Can you appoint a full time IT personnel and allocate a server for database?
Once you have clear answer to these questions you can start looking for the service provider who will meet your needs.
Here are the things you should look for before deciding on a provider for your school ERP.
• Post – Sales Service
This must have already crossed your mind considering that operating school ERP systems require some guidance. Post-sales support is very important for the initial phase of the implementation of ERP system. Ask your vendor how they are going to support you after the purchase. Is the support online, on call or in person?
You can ask for a trial period for the software to know the amount of support you will need. Some service providers give online training; others give you a staff support for implementation phase. Know the period for full support and any add on support that can be made available if you run into trouble.
Look for a trusted long-term service provider who you can turn to in case of any trouble. Having nowhere to go when your school processes are stalled can be a stressful situation.
• Training Provided
Does the vendor provide training sessions to staff and teachers? This is closely related to the first point. However, you want to see if the vendor has any formal training module.
Moving processes to ERP system suddenly can be confusing and frustrating for the staff and faculty who are not tech- savvy. You must do your best to train them to gain their confidence and make sure the system is accepted in your school. Training your staff and faculty informs them why you are moving to ERP and shows them how easy it is. This also helps in change management.
Check if your vendor has a formal training module, how in-depth it is and if there are any charges applicable.
• Experience in your segment
The market for school ERPs can be divided based on many parameters. This includes size, number of students, region, funds, ownership (public-private etc). Many service providers choose to specialize in segments.
A service provider who has worked with a school in same district will know the reporting requirements at district level. Someone who has worked with the same size school will better know the scalability problems your school faces.
The service provider will be able to relate to you better if they have served similar schools like you in the past.
• Features Offered
You must of course look at what the provider is offering. The questions that you answered about your own requirement will be useful here. Make sure all the must have functions such as assessment, attendance, fee management, reporting are covered.
After that you must look at good to have features and their cost to you and how much fits in your budget. Most of the providers also offer an app so that staff, parents and students can access basic functions on the mobile phone.
Another important thing to consider is the level of customization. You must ask yourself if you want customized features for your school or a standard off- the -shelf software will fulfill all your needs.
Some schools may need minor tweaking in reporting feature to suite their board grading standards; others may need completely customized accounting feature required by the income tax authority of their country. Ask your vendor if they can provide these customized options.
• Maintenance and Infrastructure costs
Along with the quote for ERP system you must also consider maintenance and infrastructure costs that a service provider will charge you. Some examples of these are cloud storage, server storage charges, regular maintenance and support charges.
There could also be additional charges for anti-virus security services and database management. Make sure you know all these additional investments that will be required in the coming year as unplanned costs can shake the whole school budgeting activity.
This can be a confusing point for many schools as there are multiple ways to price a school ERP system. The quotes can be variable based on per student or fixed monthly or annually. Some providers quote for the whole package whereas some give free minimum features with add on features that are chargeable.
This can be quite confusing. What you can do in such a case is to decide one method of consideration and convert all the quotes to compare them. For example, calculate the monthly cost for a per student quote to compare it. This way you will not end up comparing apples to oranges.
Another way is to give your requirements and quote format to the vendors and request for the quote in the same format from all.