Selecting a Course Scheduling Software to Meet Your Institution's Needs
Selecting a solution can be intimidating with vendors offering a seemingly endless list of bells and whistles. Many scheduling software vendors provide a competitor analysis, enabling you to familiarize yourself with the features currently offered at a market level. Then, identify the solution that most effectively aligns with your needs.
Analyze Features: Theirs and Yours
In general, features that enable ease-of-use, data-driven decision making, policy enforcement, and those that seamlessly reduce manual workload, are likely to be the most important for your institution. Configurability is also critical to ensure that a solution is able to support your institution-specific practices and processes. It’s also important to consider those features that might overlap with your existing systems to help you make a more informed decision, especially as it relates to pricing and ROI.
Look Under the Hood
· Product Development: Find a vendor that’s making waves in innovation and design, and is committed to changing with and for the market it serves.
· Customer Satisfaction: Always ask for references. And reach out to your network to solicit your peers’ preferences via a listserv or other communities.
· Integrations: Involve your IT team in the decision-making process to ensure understanding of full technical requirements and capabilities.
· Client Retention: While a product might look good on paper, its functionality and user experience can be poor. So, consider the vendor’s customer churn rate.
· Customer Success: Look for a concrete, functional training plan, a documented track-record of supporting diverse staff, and a dedicated, on-demand support team.
· Continuous Improvement: Make sure you’re given the tools for continual refinement and maintenance of your scheduling solution to guarantee long-term success.
Steps For a Successful Implementation and Beyond
Once you choose a vendor, plan for the below activities to ensure a successful implementation:
· Assemble a Task Force: Include staff from both the registrar’s office and IT department to troubleshoot problems, maintain the software, and support the end user.
· Iterate Rules and Policies: Revisit the data-driven rules and policies governing your scheduling at least once a year to ensure their relevance, accuracy, and impact.
· Survey Stakeholders: Partner with your third-party vendor to survey all users to assess the software’s impact and ensure it is achieving its intended outcomes.
· Measure ROI: Quantify the software’s impact on metrics like graduation and retention rates, seat utilization, and tuition yields. Assign a dollar value to calculate ROI.
Adopting new technology can be overwhelming, however the impact on your processes can be huge. Make sure you’re doing your due diligence in finding a partner to help you achieve a resource-efficient, student-centric, and data-informed schedule.