Importance of an Integrated School Management Software
The Next World team: Are you using an ERP for managing your institutes?
Mr Sharma: Yes.
TNW team: Is it an integrated solution or does it have separate features for separate processes?
Mr Sharma: It is an integrated solution that connects all our institutes.
TNW team: Why did you choose an integrated ERP solution?
Mr Sharma: The main problem that we faced with separate systems is the lack of consolidated reports, which hindered the process of taking quick remedial measures. Now, we can monitor the progress of our institutions easily with the comprehensive graphical analysis provided by ERP. Keeping track of student and teacher performance, leave and attendance records, and even non-academic parameters such as finances and inventory, are now hassle-free because of centralised management.
TNW team: What are the other problems you have been able to address with the help of ERP?
Mr Sharma: ERP can make monitoring of students easier, effective and cost-friendly as well with the help of RFID cards tags, GPS trackers etc. It also ensures parents’ involvement to the fullest, with active communication between them and the school. Admission procedures can be automated, which save time, efforts and resources.
TNW team: Schools use different software for each module according to their requirements. What are the problems of such implementations and how does the integrated ERP solution help resolve them?
Mr Sharma: Having separate software for different processes require the schools to enter student data on multiple platforms. Integrated modules help reduce data entry multiple times, thus saving time and effort. Changes made on one module reflect throughout the system, which is helpful for the ever-changing requirements of a school. This helps in better planning and reporting in an error-free manner. Also, format conflicts can be eradicated.
TNW team: Schools choose not to go in for ERP due to the fear of security breaches or problems of customisation. Do you think such fears are unfounded, especially when ERP is cloud-based?
Well, such fear comes from bad experiences and lack of confidence in the ERP providers. The requirements of schools are not met by most ERPs available in the market and additionally, they are quite difficult to use. You may doubt entrusting your data with an ERP provider. What happens in case of natural disasters, like the recent floods of Kerala?
These issues should be taken seriously. However, there are solutions to these problems. Cloud computing has made data safer with better backup and disaster recovery plans. Additionally, there are many companies who sign agreements to not share and use data without the school’s consent. So, why avoid ERP anymore?
TNW team: What are the challenges that a school faces in the implementation of an ERP and how can those be mitigated?
Mr Sharma: The biggest hurdle is data collection in the prescribed format. Training the staff to ensure optimum utilisation of ERP is a herculean task in itself, since they are usually not adept in ICT skills. It will also take them some time to reach the expected level.
Furthermore, we also need to make sure that the ERP provider delivers what they promise. In the whole process, the school management plays a key role along with the teaching and non-teaching staff, and the company implementation and training team.