The increase in incoming phone calls, e-mail inquiries, meetings, and the test version of the LangLion Platform marks the end of the school year, i.e. the time when you start thinking intensively about changes and upgrades you might introduce in your school from the new season. If you consider implementing some management system in your school, let me give you some ideas arising from my eight-year experience working with schools. Without suggesting a specific solution, I am going to tell you what you should pay attention to, and make the best possible decision without having your fingers burnt.
The new school year is a great time to implement new solutions, but it is even better to think about them earlier and facilitate the process of enrolment into school. So, how do you choose the best solution if you are afraid to make such an important decision in the jungle of opinions?
What do you expect from a language school management system?
1. Automate work and tedious processes
It is difficult to make a decision that is best suited to expectations if we do not express them clearly. Start by analyzing which processes in the school you would like to automate and improve. Think about what elements are repetitive and tedious, and they wouldn’t have to be. What schools tend to focus on is the process of enrolment into the school, calculating course completion dates, signing contracts, notifying of canceled classes, sending links to online lessons, registering student payments, tracking of the bank account, giving debtors a warning. Prepare a list and when analyzing the available solutions, assess whether your expectations will be met.
2. Automate information flow
One of the most important features of the language school management system is the rapid flow of information and synchronization of all data. You are going to get all these features only in a system capable of covering all, or almost all of the school processes.
If you move only part of the processes to a solution (e.g. organizational, but not financial), you have to face the fact this can affect the overall utility. Why? Because some of the data you’re going to have to document twice, in different systems, or some data will have to be moved manually. If you combine everything in one system, for example, your student’s parent will log in to the system, review the course information, pay with two online clicks the coming installment, and send a message to the teacher. On the administrative side, however, all these data will be synchronized in the same second (e.g. without the need to look through the bank account to find out who has already paid and whether the amount was right).
The same parent calling to sign up the child for the next course will be professionally served by a secretariat employee because the latter will be able to view the history of the student, his or her payments, vacancies in planned groups, etc. all in a single place.
3. Matching YOUR organizational processes
Reaching for opinions of other language schools always yields some valuable pieces of information. Nevertheless, you need to bear in mind that a system that worked in one school will not necessarily work in yours. At the first sight, a school whose opinion you hear is exactly like yours. But 8 years of experience in working with schools taught me that there are no two identical schools or two schools with identical expectations. Naturally many of them are the same, but once we go into detail, it appears that organizational or accounting differences can be huge or tiny but crucial. Therefore, I am drawing your attention first to an internal analysis of what your school needs, followed by diligent tests. Presentation of the system does not always show all processes for groups, individual students or settlements with companies, or in specific situations, but whenever possible take advantage of the offered test period and check whether a given solution is going to work in your specific situation.
Here I have to add a small exception – sometimes a conceived business model cannot be automated and regardless of the selected solution it will require involvement. It may turn out the best solution is to correct the business model than having to do tedious manual work caused by the growing scale.
4. Good price
I put this point in the fourth place only because I want you to think about price in the context of your expectations and possibilities to meet them. You can say about the price of any product or service that it is too high or that you can find someone who is going to do THE SAME and CHEAPER. I guess you have heard the same from your potential students about the offered courses. Does your competition who say they do THE SAME but CHEAPER always provide services equally well? Is the lower price related to lower margin profit or to lower quality?
5. System updates corresponding to market and industry developments
Pay attention to what development phase the system you are choosing is in. Does it have the so-called teething problems and at the same time is it being constantly developed? It is worthwhile to make a fast exploration of what changes a given operator has introduced e.g. within the last year. This will give you a picture of whether the introduced changes just fix the bugs, and perhaps the system is no longer being significantly developed.
I encourage you to check what changes we have introduced in the LangLion recently: https://blog.langlion.com/en/category/update/
6. Technical assistance and support in the implementation
Every software provider has a defined user support policy. There are companies where the contract signing is the last moment to count on support. Therefore it is worthwhile paying attention already at the stage of testing and implementation to how easy it is to get in touch with the technical support team and how fast you can count on help or bug fix.
I hope those tips will help you in making the best possible decision. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask them in the comments or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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