Selecting the appropriate management software for your school is a critical decision, impacting various aspects ranging from financial planning and forecasting to business analysis and the overall user experience. So what steps should you take to select the right software for your school?
Essential criteria for system selection
After acknowledging the need for changes through collaboration with your IT department, business managers, admins and other relevant staff, you should now know the must-haves for the software you are looking to implement. The most common features schools are looking for in a new school management software are:
- Customisation: Opt for a School Management System (SMS) that can be tailored to align with your institution's unique processes and methods. You want to be able to select a system that works for your school, not mold your school around a system that was cookie cutter designed and doesn’t work for your departments. This could mean the ability to customise features, interfaces and reporting.
- Integration Capabilities: Choose a software that is designed to seamlessly integrate with your existing school systems. Whether this be a LMS (Learning Management System), that integrates with your SIS (Student Information System), or an EMS (Extracurricular Management System) that integrates with your SIS. This reduces double-handling, and ensures a smoother transition, opposed to stand-alone softwares that are limited with data syncing - causing a headache for your administrators.
- Data Gathering and Reporting: Ensure the proposed system captures data from your online forms, website, emails, allowing you to identify incomplete submissions and establish contact to facilitate conversions. As a school, you will be receiving loads of information from students, parents and staff. These may be coming from different sources within your organisation, such as activity selection, web-based portals or a mobile app. You want to ensure the system you shortlist, not only captures this data, but allows you to customise the types of reports you want to generate.
- Automation: Identify the specific administrative tasks you wish to automate, whether it's student data management, exam bookings, financial management, extracurricular activity scheduling, or other functions. This will ultimately save time for your staff, freeing them up to focus on other role related responsibilities.
- Parent and Student Experience: Scrutinise the features each software offers, focusing on user-friendliness and its alignment with your communication requirements to parents and students. This may be the software’s ability to send push notifications, calendar updates for curricular and co-curricular activities as well as be mobile-friendly.
Consider software with reliable customer support, comprehensive documentation, and troubleshooting resources. You want to ensure that the software providers will be there for you post-onboarding, and provide sufficient training and customer service when you need it.
Ensure the software accommodates future institutional growth, supporting increased users and features as your school expands. A scalable school management software is crucial to handle rising student, staff, and parent usage. It allows for the addition of intricate workflows and data tasks over time. Initially, tasks might involve parent communication, but eventually, functions like grading, attendance, brochure distribution, and more can be integrated. A scalable system eases the burden of additional tasks and lets the administration focus on teaching.
To summarise, the selection of suitable school management software is pivotal to efficient school operations. By adhering to these steps, you can identify software that meets your institution's specific needs, offers essential features for each department, can be customised, and fits within your budget. Such software will streamline administrative processes, enhance communication, and elevate the overall educational and co-curricular experience for students.