Once your educational establishment identifies an internal management process problem and determines that it requires a technological solution, it is time to search for the appropriate software.
There is a wide choice to select from, the person in charge must carry out a quick, practical and useful market study to choose the most convenient option.
If your educational institution has already decided that it needs a technological solution to improve its management processes, it’s essential to base the analysis of available options on the following fundamental points:
Define what function the software must fulfill
It is the basis of all market research. The institution must be clear about what kind of software it needs, for what and when.
Specifically, the education establishment must know the functions and procedures that the chosen solution must improve, change or eliminate. Being clear about this will help to simplify the search and filter existing market alternatives.
Check out online software rankings
There are specialized magazines such as Education Drive and Campus Technology, and web pages that publish rankings comparing different software alternatives on the market. Among the free online listings are Capterra, G2Crowd, Software Advice and PC Mag.
There are also companies that provide advice to identify the type and best software option, such as Evaluating Software. This business has a free public access tool that helps identify what kind of software is required.
Review published market surveys on software
Usually, access to research information is paid. However, sometimes executive summaries are released, or the results are published months after the initial publication.
One of the most recent reports on technological solutions in the education sector is "Education ERP Market by Software Solutions (SIS, HR/Payroll, Financial Management, Placement Management, Transport Management, Enrolment and Admissions, Others), Services, Deployment, User Type & Region - Global Forecast to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets.
Evaluate Insourcing vs. Outsourcing
The study of available alternatives should consider the advantages and disadvantages of commissioning the development of an in-house program (insourcing), undertaken by the IT department or an external developer or subcontracting the entire service (development and management) to a technology services company that already has an appropriate predesigned software.
Decide whether the solution needs to be SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud)
The latest trend for business management software is to facilitate the enterprise’s digital inclusion through social networks, mobile devices, analysis tools, and the cloud. This is how the term SMAC was coined.
However, keep in mind that specific administrative procedures in higher education institutions should not be public, as they address sensitive and confidential topics.
Thus, the educational establishment needs to be clear about whether it needs this functionality in the software chosen to administer and manage costs, students, teachers, or another business area.
Test available demos
It's a good practice to offer free software demonstrations. Testing a product before buying it it's worthwhile, and it’s now widespread in marketing. It’s even more critical when it comes to management software to optimize or change an internal process.
Ideally, it would be best if you evaluated free demonstrations once all the options have been assessed and you’re left with a short-list of no more than three best alternatives, since testing each software will be tiring and time-consuming.
Evaluate the supplier
It’s crucial that the educational institution ranks different attributes of the vendor or technological developer. Among the four most important points to consider are:
- Ensure that it has a technical or after-sales service. Find out the scope of the service guarantee concerning time and cost.
- Check how easy it is to integrate the software with obsolete systems or those already installed in the organization. It’s crucial to test the program demos with sufficient time and a critical eye.
- Review successful case studies in the educational sector, including studying what business partners and rivals are installing to improve their processes.
- Check whether the provider provides consultancy and support services during the installation process.
Hire market survey services
Another alternative is to commission an external specialist consultant to conduct the entire process from diagnosing the problem to finding a technological solution.
There is a wide range of management softwares ready to install (plug-and-play) or to develop according to the client's specifications.
To choose the most suitable option for your institution’s management needs, whoever is in charge of the analysis must know what the enterprise needs, the budget available, and the most critical functionalities that the system must offer.