School information systems are already a part of the academic life for millions of institutions around the world. The easiness of their use, as well as the structure they provide for everyone involved, including students, teachers and parents, is one of the major reasons that school information systems have become so popular in recent years.
But what makes a school information system a good one? Here are the 5 criteria that will help you evaluate if an investment in a new SIS is actually worth it:
1. The “actual” cost of SIS ownership
When evaluating your school information system, you might underestimate how much money cheap software can actually cost you in the long run.
Future repair costs and residual value, as well as limited functionality and system inflexibility, can cost way more than an initially expensive school information system. So, in order to evaluate your platform, you should take into consideration:
• How much are you spending on updating and maintaining your platform? Or backing up data in a self-hosting environment?
• How much do you spend to back up the platform and your data in order to keep them secure?
• How much are you losing from unexpected downtime or slow performance? Or even, inefficient workarounds to overcome limited functionality?
2. Ease of use
Is your software flexible enough to carry out all your needs or is it constrained by a one-size-fits-all solution that lacks the flexibility that you need? A school information system should be:
• Easy to access: Make sure that the system doesn’t require complex access terms like duplicating efforts or entering the same information into separate systems as well as check the functionality and accessibility of mobile apps.
• Easy to comprehend: is the data hard to understand? Is generating reports a time-consuming and stressful process?
• Easy in terms of reporting: Is the system unable to generate reports with the right data in the format that your school needs?
• Easy when it comes to communication: does your school information system lack certain tools that could definitely simplify your experience?
• Able to support: is your supplier team hard to reach in case of error or bug?
3. Compatible integration
When technology and certain software tools are not compatible with each other, teachers, students and pretty much everyone involved face consequences. In general, consider those things below:
• Do students spend more time trying to handle the system than to learn?
• When you integrate with a different system are your data in danger?
• Do you need frequent tech support for problems stemming from access to different systems?
4. Future readiness
School information systems in the past years were mainly on-premise focusing just on storing data about students. In our days, SIS systems must be connected with 3rd party systems, such as Office 365, and should be accessible from anywhere, anytime without compromising data security. So, the future of the modern SIS lies in the cloud as well as in integrations with various LMS such as Moodle or Brightspace.
5. Data security
Data security is incredibly important for the protection of students’ privacy. In order to record if your SIS is protected effectively make yourself these questions:
• Do you have the ability to control levels of user access?
• Is your SIS “leaking” data through a lack of secure integration with other lesser-controlled systems?
• Is your provider back you up with a security team?
In conclusion, the choice of an SIS can be critical for your school. A school information system is an investment for the effective management of your school and of course, students’ future success in a complex and technology-driven world.