Why stop at EdTech? When it comes to talking about how we can digitally transform schools, colleges and universities, for many people, the natural tendency is to think about new innovation within the classroom. Often the focus is on how to improve students’ learning experience, enable teachers to excel in their jobs and prepare young people for work in an increasingly technological world. These are incredibly important areas, but the conversation shouldn’t stop there. The ability to provide excellent service also relies on an effective and fully-integrated back office. An organisation’s HR, finance, marketing and admin teams are vital, but are often siloed, using systems it’s difficult for the rest of the organisation to understand/engage with. Here’s how they can benefit from a more user-friendly, integrated process and reporting system:
It’s not just teachers who benefit from using fast, efficient computers with the right software, this can have a huge effect on productivity when it comes to simple tasks such as raising invoices, responding to student payment queries and submitting funding bids. According to research from BESA, only 33 per cent of secondary schools and 60 per cent of primary schools think that their ICT infrastructure is sufficiently up to date –the pressure is on to carry out system upgrades before this becomes a critical issue affecting day-to-day operations. The solution? For many organisations with ageing computer systems, the answer is switching to cloud computing. Instead of replacing sizeable on-premises infrastructures, this option helps to save hardware costs as well as software licensing costs.
Schools today are under severe financial pressures – research from the Education Policy Institute suggests that almost a third of secondary schools are unable to cover their costs – which makes it even more important to understand individual budgets. Investing in the right finance ERP system will give back-office staff a better understanding of balance sheets, cash flow forecasts and key performance indicators. In many educational organisations, where different departments are in charge of different budget sizes, a tailored dashboard will allow managers to view the financial information appropriate to them and view information in real-time. With no need to wait until end of month reports, team members can make smart investment decisions with up to date information at their fingertips, rather than waiting six weeks before any action is taken.
An efficient workflow
When it comes to student experience, many back-office roles are crucial. Whether it’s enrolling students, collecting further education fees or creating timetables, a software system which allows several teams to manage interlinked tasks brings multiple advantages. So, consider the way in which you store documents, backup content and access information. Within large organisations, such as universities, a tailored ERP system will allow everyone access to the same information – avoiding the risk of information being inputted twice and work being repeated across departments. By making it easy to see if a job has been completed from start to finish, staff are saved a lot of headaches and are free to focus their efforts elsewhere.
Automation can save you time across the board, cutting down on manual processes and freeing up time for your team to focus on other areas. Whether it’s sending e-mail marketing letters or replying to website queries, AI and automation helps provide a smooth, responsive service for students. Automating your banking and accounting functions can save hours spent on repetitive tasks, as well as saving costly human errors – in some cases ERP systems can reduce nearly 50 per cent of the time spent on preparing financial reports. If education providers make the most of this, the need for large teams and extra manpower vanishes – decreasing stress caused by a heavy workload.
To enable digital transformation in the back-office, school leaders need to change the way they see IT. It’s not about setting a budget for technology; it’s about realising that this can be a powerful tool to revolutionise your budget as a whole by making cost savings and efficiencies. However, to do this education providers need expert advice. With limited funding, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to invest in extra IT staff or training, which is where external providers come in. Investing in a cloud-based ERP system will mean that your vendor does the work for you, including installing new technologies. They’ll create a solution tailored to your organisation, update this regularly and provide ongoing support.
When it comes to digital transformation in education, we have the experience you need. So, if you’re struggling with an old finance management system or are unhappy with your current ERP system, contact Xledger for a product demonstration.