Managing your school software systems and all the data associated with them takes significant time and effort. When you’re managing several disparate systems to hold and process data, it can slow your data management efforts even more.
A disparate system, in terms of school software, is one that doesn’t integrate (whether directly or indirectly) with your other vital software. This means that your data is spread out and not replicated across the systems all at once. A significant challenge when using disparate systems is that it limits your data capabilities, which can impact the family and school experience negatively. Disparate systems can also impact and slow financial aid award processing.
When your software programs are integrated, manual data entry workload is reduced and data integrity within the whole system is improved. For example, any updates and changes made to a family, student, or funder profile through an integrated system are updated across the whole system effortlessly. This reduces duplicate data and the chance for data entry error as there are fewer manual updates of data needed.
Let’s look more closely at the four pitfalls of not bundling your system together.
Reduced Security, Accuracy, and Speed in Processing Data
Managing and maintaining private student and family data is one of the most important tasks any private school has. This includes keeping data accurate, up-to-date, and error-free. Did you know a recent study revealed that data entry not followed by verification steps can encounter error rates up to 4%? This means every two out of five pieces of data entry can contain an error.
When processing financial aid and all other student data, using manual formulas can be finicky and something as simple as an extra space or mistyped numeral can create major errors down the line. These errors often go undetected for a long period of time because the system is not integrated with other student data systems that would be able to flag the data issue. One of the most recommended ways to solve for less data error is to have integrated software systems.
A Weak Foundation Leads to Inefficient Processes
Users accessing student data across disparate software systems can also be challenged with duplicate data and data in different formats. Financial data can be misapplied in one system and tuition payments can be misallocated. This reduces school efforts in ensuring tuition payments are up-to-date and fully accessible for invoicing and monthly budget balancing. Automation takes care of ensuring your awards are applied to tuition accounts, invoices are sent on time, books are balanced, and so much more
Managing your school data manually correctly requires constant regular, in-depth data review, clearly defined processes with accountability roles, and more. Without these processes, you risk duplication of data entry efforts, overlooked data errors, and a higher degree of risk if there are issues with billing on a student account.
Not having a real-time view of data, that only integrated software can offer, also impacts your school’s decision making in terms of financial awards, long-term revenue insight, and reporting to funders and supporters.
Delays are Inevitable with Disparate Systems
If your tuition management solution can’t speak directly to your accounting software or at least be easily integrated, you run the risk of delaying funding to your account. You also will see delays in your payment reconciliation at the end of each month and school year.
Balancing your books is also slower when everything is run via spreadsheets. This can be made worse if you’re still processing cash and paper checks. Automated programs that either directly integrate or have simple tools to allow for automated reconciliation can speed up the process. They can also offer payment options that parents now desire including online payment systems and mobile apps for all processing of funds due.
A Lack of Visibility Leads to Frustration
Limited visibility into student management systems opens a door to miscommunication, frustration, and stress for everyone involved. For example: Did someone remember to add an award to a student’s tuition account? Or will that family be surprised with a much higher bill than they expected?
Disparate systems make it easy to overlook mistakes and more difficult to identify where and how they occurred. What did you base your enrollment strategy on for next year? Can you show your board the historical data to prove it will work? Creating strong tuition, enrollment, and financial aid strategies all require the ability to quickly analyze your historical data. Using disparate systems makes it a lot more difficult to pull relevant information and create strategies that will work. How quickly can you tell a parent what they’ve paid in tuition over the last six months? Does it match up with their records? Responding to parent requests takes more time when you need to look at multiple systems to find the answers you’re looking for, rather than just pulling up a single program.
Schools are seizing the opportunities that digital transformation brings them. Bundling your school management software creates streamlined, automated processes and will give you more time with families and students. Making the decision to integrate is an important key to your long-term growth. We’ve helped hundreds of schools integrate their systems. We share more benefits of bundling in our latest eBook and give you the steps to make your integration seamless.
Learn more about the Benefits of Bundling with our eBook.
Community Brands is the leading provider of cloud-based software to associations, nonprofits, faith-based groups, and K-12 schools. With 2,000 employees serving over 100,000 clients in 30 countries, we help organizations grow stronger and achieve their missions. We bring together industry-leading solutions in a connected network that provides ease of use, interoperability, and flexibility based on each school’s unique needs.