Focussing our gaze beyond the city limits of the Microsoft Partner Village, we have a blog post contributed by another Microsoft in Education Partner who are exhibiting at BETT 2016.
Located at BETT2016 stand G230, WCBS specialise in School Information Management Systems, bringing over 30 years of experience in this sector, and work with a large range of independent schools from Junior and Pre-Prep through Prep, Senior, All Through and International schools.
Benefits of an Integrated School System
One of the challenges facing organisations today is the decision over which is the best software solution to manage their operations.
With time being such a scarce resource the planning of the implementation of a fully-integrated management information system often takes second place to meeting short term goals.
The end result is that organisations can end up having different applications implemented at different times that don’t communicate with each other. This inevitably leads to organisational process inefficiencies and software integration issues.
How does this happen?
An organisation going through change or growth such as an independent school might start out by recognising they need a solution to address the complex billing and accounting needs they have and so implement a finance system for this.
In the quest to acquire pupils the school may then put in a standalone CRM or admissions system along with separate systems for communications such as emailing.
Additional software to support the academic processes can take the form of standalone applications from different vendors, home grown applications, or a variety of spreadsheet workarounds.
Schools that shape their IT infrastructure in this way can find themselves with a poorly planned architecture that handles short-term needs but holds the school back from scaling efficiently over the long term. This inhibits working practices, productivity and ultimately slows down the schools ability to function.
What issues does this cause?
Below is a summary of the three main issues that can hinder an organisation if they run disparate software systems:
Wasted Productivity: Time is a precious resource in a school, every employee must be operating at optimal productivity for it run effectively. If staff are bogged down with inefficient and disjointed processes, it increases errors and takes time away from their more important core duties. Processes such as parental communications will take a lot longer to get completed, and are often erroneous.
Lack of Real-time Visibility: Where multiple software systems are used and are not integrated, you have multiple overlapping databases, and cannot easily get a view of business performance in a timely fashion. Reports showing performance across your finance, administration, admissions and alumni departments are crucial to giving you an integrated view of the schools operations. It is not uncommon for people to simply give up on acquiring this information on a regular basis because of the amount of time it takes to source, extract and analyse.
Integration Complexity and Cost: With a host of disparate applications, IT Departments waste an enormous amount of time and money integrating, maintaining and acquiring new versions of these applications. When new versions are released or purchased, even more integration and maintenance needs to be performed for all the software to work together. Valuable IT time that could be used to make the business more productive is wasted, while maintenance costs skyrocket.
What are the Advantages of Integrated Software Applications?
To keep your school running efficiently, it is essential to have software applications integrated around a single codebase, database and business processes. Designing your systems in this manner yields tremendous cost savings and improved business productivity, including:
Process Efficiency Across Your Organization: There are many key processes that you may encounter in your daily operations, such as assessment entry, progress tracking, billing, admissions and more. Automating such processes enables you to reduce the labour overhead that would otherwise be required to manage these processes, and redeploy staff to higher-value activities to help your school function.
Dramatically Improved Visibility: Having accurate up-to-the-minute views of information is vital in making timely informed decisions. When information can be accessed instantly from almost anywhere, without wasting resources on data extraction and tying data from different sources together, staff are better informed and can make more accurate, faster decisions.
Significant IT Time and Cost Savings: With the IT Department no longer having to deal with multiple vendors, procure, install, and maintain multiple systems as well as the various integrations between them, a significant reduction in operational costs can be realised while IT time can be spent improving the business operations.
Today, schools are using sophisticated software to manage their operations growth but many are still struggling to keep up with their growth and manage costs effectively because of a mixture of disconnected functional systems causing process bottlenecks and employee productivity issues. Having integrated software suites can transform how your school is run. A school can outgrow the complexity that previously was holding them back and improve their operating efficiency for the benefit of all.
To learn more about the benefits of integrated information management, visit WCBS at Bett 2016 on stand G230.
John Cannon, UK Sales Manager at WCBS