Student Management Systems – some more thoughts

In a recent post I wrote about changing student management systems. Since then I have talked with a lot of people and done a lot of thinking. Here are some more thoughts.

At the risk of repeating myself I should remind you that the data in your current system is YOURS and you must arrange to secure it before moving to another system. Here is why.

  • There is a distinct possibility that your new SMS supplier will be unwilling (or unable) to transfer a reasonable amount of historical data to their system. Or, at the very least will charge extra for data that goes back more than a couple of years.
  • Don’t forget to ask about any archived student data. Often that can reside in a separate database that could get overlooked in any data conversion.
  • Without that data you won’t be able to produce transcripts for students who studied with you in the past.
  • Without that data you may not be able to provide relevant data to TEC (audit) or NZQA (EER) when requested.

The Cloud is a wonderful thing. It can make your system accessible anywhere, anytime, and on any platform (Windows, IOS, Android, Linux). It can ensure that your data is reliably and frequently backed up.

The key word here is “reliably”. How would you feel if you got a message from your SMS supplier saying that you system would not be available because of an outage of their Cloud management, or because system maintenance is required urgently? That would be especially upsetting if that happened on a date that you were due to submit a Mix of Provision, a Fees-Free report or some other important return.

Ask about their uptime guarantees (SLA) and what guarantee that the SMS will be available when you need it. It is an impossibility to have a 100% uptime guarantee. If that is being promised, then what else is the SMS provider promising that they cannot deliver on?

So, when evaluating an SMS to be delivered via the Cloud check very carefully the credentials of the Cloud service provider. Ask about when there was last an outage (if any) and ask about the frequency of problems.

What do you think?