What must be checked when evaluating Education ERP Software?
There are literally thousands of education technology providers and selecting the one that is right for you is more difficult than searching for a needle in a haystack.
You have to evaluate each software as per its capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and applicability. And you cannot just ignore the power the price factor holds over your decision. It is a daunting task that can take up to months. It requires rigorous comparison and one mistake can take hours of research down to ashes.
To help you in your course, we bring you a time-tested methodology that outlines 5 basic rules of ERP evaluation and how to reach the right solution.
Before we get started – assemble the A-team
Once you have come to the decision that the legacy ERP system you are using needs to go, you must start assembling a project team that is going to drive the search, research, comparison, selection, and implementation process of the new ERP solution.
Now, let’s get started.
- Define your priorities and set the ERP requirement definition
You just don’t start your search for the perfect solution unless you know what you are looking for. It is the most important step in the process, as the right thing any vendor is going to ask you is, “what can they do for you”.
So, let’s start by charting out the specifics that you are looking for in a product. It can be anything. Like having a system for attendance, admissions, examinations, fees and finance, resource management, data analytics, and so on. Create a list of things that are absolutely necessary for an education ERP solution you are looking for.
Also, go ahead and describe your business. It is very important to provide specifics to the vendor regarding the number of employees you have, the number of students, programs and courses, the grading process, fee process, payroll management process, etc. This would make it easy for them to configure the product as per your needs, or whether they provide solutions to manage an educational institute of your size.
You see, the better you prep this list, the more are your chances to eliminate the irrelevant vendors in the first phase of your search, and hence, no unnecessary surprises later in your deal with the vendor.
Once you have it, send it to the potential vendors and look to find people that are genuine and positive about providing solutions to your specific needs.
- ERP Request for Proposal
Now, you have a bunch of vendors that are wanting to partner with you. You need to speculate on each vendor with utmost scrutiny because— you are spending a lot of time and money on this.
So, remember, you need to perform a detailed review for each one of the responding vendors. The right vendor to talk to is the one that delivers the necessary functionality and feature to meet your requirements defined in the document you shared with them.
Their proposal should include, the necessary details about the product. Information about their company, experience in the sector, and resources that are committing to be part of the product implementation process from their company. Also, check out their success stories. There should be some case studies and testimonials from their happy clients.
- Make the first cut
Once you are satisfied with the primary search, make the first cut and be super selective of the ERP vendors that you would like to have a product demo. Schedule a demo with each vendor you feel fits the bill. It is necessary that you keep a significant gap of a few days between each demo to have time to outline your experience in detail during each demo.
Once you are done with all the demos, start by ranking each vendor. You must rank them based on their strengths, add-on services, weaknesses, product experience, customer support, and other factors that you find absolutely necessary in the product.
Treat every vendor equally, remember that the proposal is only a glimpse of what you are going to have to pay for — a ballpark figure, look for outliers. And voila! You have your finalists.
- Comparison and Detailed Evaluation
Once you have identified three to five finalists, it is time you get to work. This is the most important and defining part of the process. Verify each of their claims and validate their references.
Get in touch with the potential vendors and ask them to refine their proposals. Talk to your existing users and know what their experience with the product is. Also, since the first demo would be rushed up, create a list of features you would like to have a detailed demonstration for.
During the demo, closely inspect how the software is set up and tailored to meet your unique processes and procedures. In case there is any pitfall in that, ask the vendor if that part is configurable as per your organization.
Discover, if the product is automating most tasks. It is very important for the ERP solution to reduce manual processing and automate operations to reduce the human resource efforts and cost of the operations.
Ask questions, about hosting, and product security. Check their data security compliances and their measures to ensure the data of your organization is going to be safe.
Encourage your team to ask questions. Have people from the technical side, the IT department become part of the demonstration to understand the technicalities of the software. If you have any questions regarding the software, now is the time because you are going to be in the end negotiation.
- Selection and Contract
When you have completed a detailed evaluation you are most likely to be stuck with two or three vendors in the end that have met your criteria. Start with the one that you believe is the best among the group and tell them they are one of the choices but not the first.
Now, this may be a trick but it never goes wrong. Telling people that they are very close to getting the deal but there are also others would give you an edge over the negotiation. That does not mean you can get them to anything, but it would open a wider door during the negotiation. Always aim for a fair deal that benefits both parties.
Document and discuss system implementation, license, configuration, confidentiality, data sharing & security protocols, ongoing support, customer support, cost, implementation process & time, training, data conversion & integration, networking & security customization, and other important things in the document.
Once you are satisfied, announce that you have selected the vendor, make the initial payment and monitor the implementation process like a hawk.
You can always check for G2 Reviews:
Gartner Peer Insights
This process would likely help you end up with the right vendor. The key here is to evaluate the vendor with utmost scrutiny and stick to the specifics you need most direly in the product. The more clear you would keep your communication with the vendor, the most likely it is that you would have only the genuine vendors to deal with at the end of the process. Also, price negotiations are tricky, always ask the vendor if there are any hidden costs. Document your interactions with the vendor, just to have a reference. Most importantly, go back to where this blog started— assemble the A-team. The more technically sound the team would be more likely they are to see any loopholes in the product.