For educational institutions, the decision to accelerate digital transformation is a straightforward one. But the question of which Student Information System solution to adopt is not. In a saturated ed-tech market, vendors tend to emphasize their own SaaS value propositions without first addressing the specific institutional needs of prospective customers.
Here, we will unpack the 3 most important features to look for when choosing a Student Information System (SIS), and what decision makers should be looking for before implementing one.
1. Cloud is key
Traditional SIS solutions have high costs of ownership, with key systems housed in physical back-end offices or across multiple touchpoints. Cloud technology allows institutions to slash capital investment and operate in a far more agile way. That enables significant savings, especially where IT resources are scarce.
The only route to sustainable scaling
Crucially for universities in particular, cloud solutions are the only feasible way to manage rapidly increasing student numbers and scale operations sustainably. Cloud SIS vendors bear the responsibility to maintain and optimize systems, so they no longer need to live on premise. That’s a major boost to institutional efficiency, as well as security.
A much-needed boost to student retention
Student retention strategies that don’t include cloud enablement are unlikely to succeed in a digital-first era. And outmoded administration systems are a primary driver of attrition. According to recent research by Fusion the Apps People, approximately three quarters of students recommend that their institutions change their digital strategy. When asked to rank which aspects of their lives are easiest to manage digitally, education was at the bottom of the list, lagging far behind travel and banking. Cloud SIS solutions give modern students the convenience and efficiency they expect, based on their experience in other sectors?
2. It’s only a solution if it’s end-to-end
A truly game-changing SIS is one that can facilitate smooth, rich student experiences in their entirety. That begins with recruitment and extends beyond graduation into alumni support. It’s not enough to adopt workaround or short term solutions that only address parts of the student journey. Institutions who do this will find that they are still limited by the data siloing they were trying to remedy in the first place.
Before they become students: multi-channel recruitment
The students of today – and especially the students of tomorrow – live and breathe digital experiences. As competition intensifies, places of higher education must be able to reach students in the channels where they want to be. A Student Information System can provide a vital communication bridge for marketing, sales and customer service. Over 80% of students want to be able to manage their student life through a single app; demonstrating that you can deliver that is a powerful signal to prospects that you are ahead of the transformation curve. Once a prospect makes an application, an SIS makes it easy for admissions departments to track their status and nurture them along the journey.
From application to graduation: one experience, one source of truth
As students apply, gain admission, and progress, the relevant data needs to be stored and managed in a single system, free of information barriers. They – and other stakeholders such as faculty staff and administrators – should be fully equipped to oversee every aspect of their lives within the system. Next-generation solutions integrate smoothly with Learner Management Systems (LMS), providing single sign-on and enhancing student experience.
After graduation: managing alumni networks
Graduation marks the end of one journey and the start of another. As students become alumni, it’s vital that their data can be stored in a functioning alumni management system. That allows universities to stay in touch with their alumni, track their careers, and provide them with ongoing support in the form of events or courses. Alumni networks can also play a key role in fund-raising and boosting institutional prestige.
But in a world of unprecedented mobility and change, none of this can be managed with outdated, admin-office dependent methods. Universities should turn to state-of-the-art solutions that can provide a high level of engagement with students, long after they cease to be students.
3. Intelligent decision-making
Cloud-based SIS solutions bring data together from across the ecosystem: registration, academic achievement, financial data – all the sources that have traditionally occupied their own silos, cut off from other departments. This paves the way for comprehensive management reporting, measuring of KPIs and real-time analytics. Management can use this information to evaluate the performance of different departments, and boost financial performance by efficiently allocating resources to the most viable projects.
Ultimately, institutions that use next-generation SIS solutions are better able to secure themselves against risks. They’re also well equipped to make more sound business decisions, based on a complete picture of the entire organization.
Your institutional SIS Wishlist
These are the features we deem the most important in a Student Information System, but they don’t exhaust the full list of capabilities that next-generation solutions put at your disposal. At Fusion the Apps People, we have leveraged Microsoft Dynamics 365 to create EDU365, a world-class SIS solution that is creating impact for universities, colleges and training institutes around the world. The chances are, EDU365 is the perfect fit for your digital transformation goals, but there’s only one way to be sure. Get in touch with our team to find out more about how EDU365 is disrupting the global market for SIS technology.