Often time I am asked which solution should I acquire that will solve my automation needs at my college or school. To which I respond with quite an elaboration to make them understand different facets of a software and its utility. There are many various ERP software for schools and colleges some are open source and most of them commercial. Many institutes especially in India do not have any software solution for educational institutes for their automation not even data in digital format.
When we speak of educational software automation - let us look at various stakeholders involved in using it .
And for educational institutes there are two top level functional units :
For each functional units their interaction with various stakeholders differ and hence requirements also vary. ERP solution is an "Eco-System which seamlessly integrates and simplify flow of data" and disseminate it to its end users in an easy and convenient way. Many educational software available today are only data collectors or data management software ; from basic administrative perspective they might fulfil requirements but does it provide business insight to educational institute, Do they add any value which is much more than just excel sheet and administrative tasks. Can they provide both qualitative and quantitative information to analyse gaps , which can help make business decisions for improvements.
There are many stand alone module for educational institute which are excellent for use case they target, but how do they communicate with rest of system. It might be more difficult to manage multiple vendors / disintegrated sub-modules as compared to a well defined integrated solution. An ERP for school or college must provide multi-dimensional view, a holistic perspective on information (The whole is usually greater or more than the sum of its parts) for better utility.
I would suggest not to use a software which is stagnant - a software which is not evolving is equivalent to dead. Technology is evolving , use case scenarios are changing and automation is going to whole new level . If you want to have a competitive difference invest in a software partner which not only solves your immediate requirements but can be a guide to help make transformation at your institute, someone with whom you should partner for long term relationship who could foresee challenges ahead and addresses them for you. Partner with those who thrives on innovation rather than those that are surviving.
Ease of use : As simple and insignificant it may sound cause its assumed and taken for granted but one of most critical part when it comes to adoption / implementation. I personally know some of the higher educational management software with great functionality simply failed because of lack of ease of use. The end users wouldn't adopt because either the learning curve was very high or practically difficult to use it. The user experience of a software makes a significant impact when it comes to users with varied background for success of the software.
ERP is not only a data bin. It is also about business processes , dataflow to meet not only compliances but a mechanism of setting best practices at an institute. Engage with an educational ERP which will enable institute to set standards and automate their process flow. It is not just about reports but go beyond it with data analytics and more.
NOTE : I have consciously stayed clear of discussing on modules or functionalities an educational software must have because then you start evaluating it like a check box which is important at ground level (maybe I will write it in multiple subtopics as different blogs), I wanted to keep this article at higher level focusing more on a desired characteristics of an ERP for colleges and school which is overlooked many a times.