Choosing the right software to run a school is no mean feat.
With numerous data points to capture, multiple people to connect and complex processes to undertake, finding the right solution for your school environment needs careful consideration.

What are the essential traits, features, attributes and qualities that you should look for when starting to evaluate school management systems?

After 40 years in this industry here are our suggestions

1. Data security

Data privacy and security is especially important when dealing with student’s sensitive academic, health and family records. The software solution needs to be bullet proof and able to surface information based on specific role permissions.

  • Where will your sensitive data be located?

  • How is it protected?

2. Complex relationships

A system needs to allow for complex relationships between students, parents, supporting family members, caregivers and guardians to be accurately reflected in the day-to-day business operations.

  • How easy is it to specify who has access to student personal and academic data?

  • Can you define rules down to individual contact level?

3. Planning for future years

The School Management System needs to support the planning and transition process for future academic years. It is important that you can plan next year’s classes, predict and plan future year enrolments, and support a dynamic process to roll forward from one year to the next.

  • Are you prepared for the end of year rollover?

4. Financial Management

A school is not a commercial business. Accounting software that has been designed for Manufacturers, Financial Services or some other profit driven industry will not meet the needs of a school. Accounting for school fees, donations and managing fundraising requires specialist processes and practices.

  • Has the system been designed from the ground up for schools?

5. Scalability

The country’s swelling population presents opportunities for schools to grow. It is important that the School Management System can scale from current student numbers to accommodate future plans.

  • What are the cost implications as a school grows?

  • Can the system scale to match student numbers without adding extra overheads? 

  • What limits are there in student, parent, teacher and staff record management?

6. Reporting

From government mandated reports to basic operational controls all reports need to be accurate, clear and easily enhanced to meet today’s requirements. Look closely at the standard reports offered by a system and make sure your day-to-day needs are covered.

  • Can you make ad hoc reports in house?

  • Is the vendor proactive in delivering new standard reports?

7. Analytics

Harnessing the data generated by a School Management System to support decision making is where real value can be mined from the right system.

  • Does the system come with a Business Analytics Platform?

  • How do the analytics support strategic decision making?

8. Integration

Some systems are more comprehensive than others, but no one system does it all. A system that can integrate with other applications and share data allows schools to streamline process, save time and ensures accuracy of data.

  • What options are available off-the-shelf and what options are there for customisation?

  • Does the supplier support industry standards and have a published strategy?

9. Visionary product roadmap

In the ever-changing landscape of information technology, it is important that roadmaps are in place for software product development in the short, medium and long term.

  • What plans are in play for future-proofing the software?

10. Data accuracy

Accurate data is the foundation stone of any system. The implementation of a new system requires data migration to bring in historical information and deliver a clean start. An implementation where the vendor takes ownership of the data migration and uses proven processes and practices, will ensure the project is successful.

  • What options are available off-the-shelf and what options are there for customisation?

  • Does the supplier support industry standards and have a published strategy?

11. Onboarding & training

The number 1 reason that new system implementations fail is the lack of attention paid to training and onboarding. The solution vendor needs to ensure that the new skills required to operate the system are developed for all affected staff.

  • What training options are available: eLearning, classroom, self-paced?

  • How easy is it to use the system?

12. Community

Think about what type of community you are joining when you select a vendor. A community with an active exchange of best practices between users and schools and proactive and responsive support teams proactive will help in resolving queries and help to integrate the system in your school.

  • Is it easy to access the vendor’s leadership?

  • Does the user community influence the product roadmap?

Putting it all together

Finding the right School Management Solution shouldn’t be left to chance. Make sure you have conversations with people who provide the solutions, use the solutions and those who support the solutions.

Next steps

If a school management system review is on the agenda at your school we’d love to have an initial conversation with you. A 30-minute conversation over a coffee with one of our expert solution consultants has proven to be a great way to kick a project off on the right track.


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