Myth 1: Schools Are Different. Well yes schools are different, most obviously in that you aren't overtly in the profit maximisation game. But that one issue aside all of my many commercial clients have been very different. Industries have grown to serve the education sector and to perpetuate the feeling that "schools are different" and therefore need different (more expensive) products & services. Be assured that all of the hundreds of thousands of businesses out there in the UK have a need to track their interactions with potential customers but they don't all feel the need to develop a customer relationship management (CRM) system bespoke for their sub-sector.
Myth 2: You Need a Bespoke Admissions System. Years ago off the shelf CRM systems just did the basics, were essentially contact listings and many industries felt the need for their suppliers to develop bespoke solutions. These days the good CRM systems can be honed to fit very closely with almost every sector that I have come across.
Myth 3: Small is Beautiful. How many clients or sites is the CRM system installed in? Bespoke industry solutions tend to count their user sites in tens or hundreds whereas the successful more generally applicable CRM systems have tens of thousands of users. More users means that the cost per user is dramatically reduced, the developer has more resources to keep the system abreast of industry latest standards, to continually improve usability and features. Small can be beautiful, but you normally pay for it. If you fully appreciate the costs of "going small" and make an informed decision that's fine, but many don't.
Myth 4: We Need It In-House On Our Server. Do you like spending hundreds of pounds (or more) on servers, making sure they are constantly updated to the highest software and physical security standards, providing uninterruptible power supplies etc - if so maybe you should be running an IT company. For the rest of us a "cloud hosted" service is dramatically less costly, more reliable, more secure and accessible (with proper authorisation) from any web browser in any location. If the Head want's to see the state of play whilst on the train that's easily done with a cloud based service.
Here is my mini test to see whether your current admissions system is "up to the snuff":
1. The telephone rings, it's Mrs Bloggs - can you get to her details on the system within 3 seconds?
2. Mrs Bloggs again, you need to see a copy of the email she sent you three months ago. Can you get there in 3 seconds?
3. Mrs Bloggs yet again, you need to access the report from her daughter's current Head, she sent it through sometime ago. Can you get it in 3 seconds?
Make sure that you and your school are fully informed about the highly capable systems out there - typically they charge around £150 per annum for up to six users!
Ex Shell and PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant Tim Latham works with schools to cut through the marketing hype and find solutions that increase pupil recruitment in a sustainable way. Find out more at www.unconsultancy.com.