As schools evaluate what kinds of technology, particularly software, to invest in they should consider three main questions:
1. Will the software technology solve institutionally identified problems and priorities or will it only address one problem for a small set of users?
Higher education academic operations have traditionally been siloed and highly decentralized. This increases cost, reduces efficiency and data transparency, and has impacted how technology buying decisions are made at many institutions.
Software investment decisions are often made by a user group trying to solve one problem. These user groups may not have an institutional perspective and can be attracted to “point solutions” or non-integrated software applications that solve a singular problem for one type of user (for example, there are point solutions that help accreditation liaisons track and report faculties’ non-teaching activities).
Buying point solutions results in perpetuating the expense, redundancy and opaqueness of siloed and decentralized operations plus it adds additional strain to already thin IT resources.
Most institutions of higher learning have recognized that the cost of siloed and decentralized operations is not sustainable. For these institutions the better way to buy software is to bring various stakeholders together to establish institutional software needs and priorities. Looking for comprehensive solutions is ultimately less expensive, more efficient and creates greater cohesion among teams and data.
2. Is the software integrated?
After determining which software technologies will solve institutional problems and priorities, academic operators/leaders should ask about the software’s integration with the institution’s existing enterprise software licenses.
Additonally, institutions should look for comprehensive ERP systems that can be integrated with other large systems used for operations. For example, adopting a comprehensive academic operations platform that compliments and integrates with your LMS, SIS and HRIS results in creating a seamless ecosystem that supports academic operations. Having an integrated set of systems saves institutions time and money and will result in more efficient operations, more transparent data, and more connected teams.
3. Is the software flexible and user-friendly?
The third question schools should consider asking as they evaluate software technology is whether the software is flexible and user-friendly.
There are two common software buying scenarios:
1) the end user is not involved in the buying process and then the software does not meet the needs of the actual users or
2) the end users are the only stakeholders involved in the buying decision and cannot accurately make a purchasing decision to solve institutionally identified problems and priorities.
Bringing all the stakeholders together and specifically addressing how the software technology can be configured to match the needs of the end user is vital to making a good buying decision. Good systems should provide functionality and flexibility so end users can decide how processes, workflows, and reporting should be managed. And good systems should provide an intuitive, connected interface for ease of use.
Increase Transparency and Collaboration
Schedule a demo to learn how APL nextED’s Academic Operations Platform can centralize your institution’s academic operations for greater transparency and overall efficiency.