How can the purchase of a new cell phone teach us a key lesson about acquiring K-12 technology? My recent transition from the iPhone to the Razor illustrates the challenge our clients face when replacing Student Information Systems, ERP Financial/HR applications, and Student Transportation software: configuring our applications to communicate with each other is vital but not always easy.
Learning the user interface of the Razor was simple. The hard part was configuring the various applications I rely on such as: email, calendar, contacts, travel itineraries, banking, and more. It would have been nice to call one support number to learn if my email connectivity mode was active versus Exchange.
The same connectivity challenges arise with K-12 software. Hiring a new teacher should be an automated process with data originating in the HR system and electronically moving to the Payroll system and the Student Information System (with proper workflow approvals, of course). A teacher who schedules a bus for a field trip should enter the request once and have the various software applications update the transportation schedule (Routing and Planning software) and department’s budget (ERP Financial software). At-risk student identification should take into account data from the Student Information System (grades, attendance, discipline, etc.), Assessment systems (state, local, and other assessment databases), ERP Financial/HR system (recent budget cuts, teacher tenure, etc.) and Transportation system (length of bus ride, incidents occurring on the bus, etc.).
Make sure you examine the software AND the ease of connectivity when making your final selection. And remember, when all your K-12 solutions come from the same vendor, you can make one support call!