As a school administrator, you’ve been looking far and wide for that perfect software that will make your life easier. You want something to help you with system manageability, organization, community building, and time saving, but you’ve hit a bit of a roadblock. With all the options out there, it could take months—years!—to find the right one. Do you need a fairy godmother to conjure up the software your heart desires?
If you work through your search in three distinct phases, you can narrow down your school administration software options to a powerful short list.
Phase 1: Consider Compatibility
The first step when looking for your dream software is to determine which options are relevant to your niche. Specify the type of school you need software for, then eliminate the programs that do not fit under this category. For instance, if you have a private elementary school, it’s easy to eliminate any software programs geared toward public schools, high schools, secondary schools, or universities.
The next compatibility issue is size. If your school is a small, private school, then you should stay away from software companies that cater to large public schools with a broader range of software needs. You’ll end up paying for features and functionality that are not applicable to a school your size. Likewise, if you work at a large school, buying software that caters to a smaller environment will leave you hanging, wishing you had the ability to do more with your school administration system.
Finally, look for software that fits your processes; try to avoid changing the admissions process to fit the software. Compatibility means the software should help you operate in the way you want to. For instance, if you place a high priority on accommodating parents’ needs at your school, then the software you purchase should facilitate administrator-parents relations. You may want to look for software programs that offer online payment options for parents or online report card/test score applications that allow parents to view their children’s grades online.
Phase 2: Consider Functionality
Now that you have a list of software solutions that are compatible with your school, go through and see if the products on this list will meet your functional needs. Your school has its own unique needs and wants—get these down on paper and find the software solutions that meet them. Examples could include specific accounting/finance tools to track payments, receipts, and accounts online, or web design tools if you’re trying to update the look of your school’s website. Software is designed to serve your needs, so if it doesn’t fulfill the basics, don’t buy it. Once you’ve got a good list that meets all of your functional needs, move on to Phase 3.
Phrase 3: Consider Usability
Once you know which software choices will fulfill your school’s functional needs, the final phase is all about finding out if the software will be acceptable to your users. Can you imagine you and your administrative team easily using this software? Free trials are the best way to assess the usability of a software solution. Try out all the programs that make it to this final stage. Remember to have everyone (or as many people as possible) try out the software, since usability doesn’t mean that only the tech genius can use it.
Forget fairy godmothers! By going through these three phases, you’ll be able to narrow down your school administration options in no time (leaving plenty of time to go to the ball and get home before midnight)! For a comprehensive list of school administration software vendors, check out Capterra’s school administration software directory.
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