Despite COVID-19, your on-campus classes will ultimately return. Unfortunately, scheduling will still be a challenge. Don’t despair. You’re in good company because for countless other colleges and universities efficient and effective course scheduling remains unattainable. On a more positive note, now may be the perfect time to simplify and optimize your scheduling process.
This 3-part series will help you understand the problems so many schools face today in their section scheduling endeavors. It will also provide guidance on determining your specific pain points, managing cultural change, and finding the scheduling solution that’s best for your institution.
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.
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.
Equally important to choosing a partner are the below non-feature based criteria:
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: Understand full technical requirements and capabilities. 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 that sets you up for success.
Continuous Improvement: Make sure you’re given the tools for continual refinement and maintenance of your scheduling solution to guarantee long-term success.
Once you choose a vendor it is important to plan for the below activities in order to ensure a successful implementation:
Assembling a Task Force: Identify a specialized team, including staff from both the registrar’s office and IT department, to troubleshoot problems, maintain the software, and support the end user.
Iterating 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.
Surveying Students, Faculty, and Staff: Partner with your third-party vendor to survey all users to assess the software’s impact and ensure it is achieving its intended outcomes.
Measuring Impact and ROI: Quantify the software’s impact on metrics like graduation and retention rates, seat utilization, and tuition yields. Then assign a dollar value to calculate your 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-driven schedule.
Miss the first two posts in the series? Check out Part 1, Introduction: The Problem. The Pain Points and Part 2, Preparing for Change: A Cultural Approach