If an SIS provider is not operating an agile development structure, new tools and enhancements are less likely to be provided. Only agile structures produce the continuous delivery of new tools/products and enhancements you constantly need. Can you remember the last time your system provided new tools or enhancements? If not, lack of innovation is an issue. Education is constantly evolving, especially now, so your SIS should be too. Development efforts should be focused on the customer (YOU). A vendor should take the time to understand your needs, goals, initiatives, and reflect that in the enhancements they provide.
Tip: Ask yourself, did your vendor respond immediately to the pandemic and provide you with tools to be successful?
Unfortunately, many districts/charters have received the daunting news that their SIS is no longer going to be supported. This is common in the K12 industry…companies are acquired and soon after, the purchaser announces that system’s end-of-life. The goal: push the acquired users to another product in their portfolio. This prompts a district/charter to replace their software, but not before researching multiple vendors (not just the proposed one).
Tip: If your district or charter gets an end-of-life notice, do your research to get a product that works for YOUR district. Get to know the history and stability of the company.
How many systems are you currently managing at your district/charter today? Two, five, seven…more? Many districts/charters manage at least three systems: student information system, LMS, food service, communication, etc. All these systems require different logins, different support centers and different integration capabilities. Technology departments are finding it difficult to manage multiple systems and maintain the utmost security and reliability for these systems. Due to these challenges, many districts and charters move to an all-in-one system. This eliminates duplicate data entry, increases data quality, streamlines processes, saves money, and adds transparency across all departments.
Tip: Count how many third-party systems your district is currently using? How much time, money and staff resources does it take to maintain those systems?
State reporting is no easy feat. Many districts move to a new SIS because their vendor’s state reporting processes are challenging, time consuming and ultimately not representing their school district accurately to ensure the most funding possible. This is more common among districts that have many disparate systems for collecting information. Multiple systems make it exceedingly difficult to not only clean up data, but then reformat it to meet state submission requirements.
Tip: Funds for a district directly benefit students, so accurate state reporting should not be challenging for your district. Are disparate systems challenging your staff? Maybe it is time for a single solution.
Due to poor support, some districts and charters have/will switch to a new SIS. Customer service is just as important as product quality and price. Representatives that are not knowledge (nor friendly), long response times, and outdated training resources are inexcusable when you are trying to improve student achievement. If your SIS provider is lacking in support, it might be due to high staff turnover rates. If the support representative you are talking to has less experience with the system than you, there’s a problem.
Tip: If you are not happy with support, we recommend you ask for turnover rates and average tenure of the support team(s).