It’s the time of year when providers that are thinking about changing student management system start to do something about it. If you are in this situation you may find the notes below useful.
As you will be aware I have been involved with student management systems for quite a while, and I was responsible for the development and support of one particular system from 1998 to early 2017. At the start of 2016 my business partner and I sold our interest in that product and I was employed by the new owner until February 2017. At that point I left to return to work as an independent consultant and, I must say, life without management meetings has been a glorious relief.
I have since had the opportunity of working with clients with other student management systems, or who are moving to other systems. This leads me to make some observations which may be relevant to you if you are thinking of changing.
- The people who market and sell systems don’t necessarily know very much about either the technology of the system they are selling nor, for that matter, the nuts and bolts of student management. They probably also have little insight into the compliance requirements of government agencies.
- You should ask to talk to the people who will provide support. After all a system is only as good as the support that is provided.
- Check that the software used by the system is not out of date or possibly even redundant; for example, “Flash”.
- Where your organisation has multiple organisational units (campuses, departments, etc.) and/or EDUMIS numbers you will want what is called “multitenancy” software. A tenant is a group of users with specific privileges. For example, users at campus “A” can’t see student records at Campus “B”, however a head office user can see all students and produce reports across the whole organisation as well as for the individual campuses. Not all systems which claim multitenancy do in fact work in this way.
- Nobody likes reading user manuals or online help (and system developers don’t necessarily like writing this material) but you should make a point of asking to see the material and check that it is up-to-date.
- Make sure that you own your data and can access it independently of the student management system itself and the supplier of the system. This is particularly important if your data is being stored in the cloud.