Like all tools, the real value comes from not what they can potentially do but what you actually do with them. This is particularly true of school management software which can bring significant efficiencies to school administration. The problem is that these systems generally have an overwhelming amount of functionality that can end up unused or worse, completely misused, eroding the value of your investment.
Of course, the whole reason for considering a school management system is to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. It’s not hard to make a case for how beneficial a fully featured system can be. In particular, you will benefit from huge reductions in paper usage due to all your data being stored, shared and consumed online. A system will also bring about a reduction in employee hours due to the automation of many previously manual tasks as well as a saving on time wasted in meetings and emailing thanks to built in messaging and notifications.
The truth is, it’s not a simple calculation of ‘how many features’ vs cost. The missing elements are support, security and infrastructure.
With proper planning and support, schools will maximise the value of their investment. Solid support from your software vendor is critical to ensuring you get the most out of the functionality on offer and is probably the single most important factor when choosing school management software.
Let’s say that again, support is the key to realising the full potential and can be the 'make or break' for success.
That however, is not the end of the story either. Once you do commit to using a system like this, you introduce brand new requirements. This is where a SaaS (Software as a Service) based system like MySchool really shines since SaaS comes with additional but often overlooked benefits that contribute significantly to value.
Using technology for administration is generally a smart move but it can require new skills, expertise and has specific on-going demands, complex costs and requirements. A system like MySchool is provided as a service, that is to say, we take care of ALL the complex technology on our own infratructure and provide secure access through a normal web browser to all our users. Think about it, no extra pressure on your IT department, no software to install or keep up to date. No expensive servers & network hardware to buy and maintain. Simple annual budgeting with no surprises. All that’s required is an internet connection, username and password. (and of course, great support!)
A significant responsibility and now a priority for many organisations around the globe, data security requires specialist knowledge and constant vigilance and must be a key factor in assessing the value of a school management system. Security related audits can be costly but are gradually becoming legal requirements around the world with Europe’s upcoming GDPR laws currently leading the way. It’s worth noting that not all vendors prioritise security and you should look for proof that the vendor holds globally recognised certifications like ISO27001.
Data backups & ownership
Comprehensive data backups are critical but require even more hardware and IT resources. Simply put, a SaaS vendor should fully protect you from accidental data loss and be very clear about the ownership of your data. It would be unusual for vendors not to offer data back up though some may have hidden charges related to restoring your data. The moment you start storing and managing your students' data is the moment data back up becomes the difference between full scale disaster and a small hiccup.
To Sum up
Functionality is undoubtedly critical when assessing value. Without a commitment to great support, solid data security and the provision of infrastructure, a decision based on features alone can end up looking more like a bad hangover than a smart move towards efficiency. Better efficiency, ultimately leaves you with more time and resources to deliver true value to your students.