How many different types of software does your school system use Kindergarten to grade 12? More than 10? More than 20? More than 30? Somewhere even higher? We are willing to bet so, and we’re probably right. A math teacher friend, working in a large urban district in New England ballparked 38 without any hesitation (and teachers likely underestimate the software available to them) and a STEAM Math and Computer Curriculum Coordinator at a separate but similar district said confidently that they use more than 50. More than 50 different types of software. That is quite a lot to keep track of. Too much, frankly. So many portals, passwords, and so much potential for waste. Especially as it’s not just the workplace this all competes with — recent research suggests that the average person has more passwords than pop songs have words. Boy do we miss the good old days of the internet.
There is a solution though, and that is to consolidate. Rather than going for individual software for individual purposes look for vendors that offer comprehensive solutions. There are two very compelling reasons why this should be a priority for decision makers in school environments — 1) Staff are much more likely to utilize and take advantage of software when there are less hoops to juggle and go through AND 2) it is highly likely this will save schools and districts lots of money.
Less is More
There is really no advantage to having a variety of providers and many different software solutions. Jumping from application or platform to another, again and again, is really cumbersome and inefficient. It’s also a virtual guarantee for more exposure to outages, interruptions, and other problems as the Covid-19 experience has shown us.
There is also the learning curve for users. If every application has its own interface and characteristics it is asking a lot for them to be proficient users. Just think about how much time and money is spent on training staff for each piece of software! Of course, if it’s essential they will learn it, it is their job. But if it isn’t? It’s likely to be forgotten and collecting digital dust like all those downloaded apps you swipe past daily on your smartphone.
Importing, exporting, file type not support, what? Having multiple types of platforms and applications is also a virtual guarantee for headaches. A common refrain in the workplace is that technology is supposed to make our lives easier (you don’t hear it as much at home because things usually don’t get mandated there). And it should, but having many types of software means that many engineering teams need to be involved and working in parallel even though you might be the only link. Again, that’s a lot of exposure.
On the other side, familiarity and consistency streamlines the user experience and invites exploration and play. A habit of use is easily cultivated and staff will waste less time in their day to day functions. It’s really a no-brainer in terms of promoting productivity. It might seem like shopping around can save money, initially, but there are a lot of costs that don’t get recorded in a contract. The costs of inefficiency are not at all small even though they might be hard to measure in a budget. And if dozens of the 50+ software solutions are rarely used, if used at all, do the savings even matter? Of course not.
Bottom line, consolidation means a better workflow, streamlined processes, efficiency, and centralization. Say goodbye to putting the same data in multiple places, losing track of where something is, or forgetting what something does.
This whole work from home experiment is interesting to watch. Some companies did complete about faces, calling working from home inappropriate back in March and only months later letting employees decide themselves when, and if, they would return to the office. This is because they saw a lot of benefits without many drawbacks. One obvious benefit has been lower costs associated with the office itself. These savings mean some — more profit, or hopefully, more savings passed on to the customer, because it is the customer who pays for these things in the end.
And to that consider the embedded costs of doing business with many different companies. This means involvement in the costs of multiple payrolls, rents, banks, utilities, insurance agencies, law firms, and a plethora of other redundant costs like equipment and supplies let alone the licensing costs seen up front. Every hand has to get some.
It makes much more sense to give it to the hands that can handle more for you. A vendor that handles more application needs will have the proper support for multiple and integrated solutions. Rather than waiting for two or more support teams working on an issue separately, maybe even in different time zones (or countries?) doesn’t it make much more sense to have the IT environment simplified? Of course it does.
Make every dollar count.