By Megan Guerin, Product Specialist at Amilia.
There are a lot of software options out there that offer a variety of solutions to help your afterschool program operate more efficiently—but searching for software can be overwhelming. It’s a big investment and there is a lot to consider.
If you’re considering a new software purchase in the coming months, bookmark this blog for some handy guidelines to consider and questions to ask as you search for the right solution to fit your program’s unique needs.
Your current issues
Before you even start evaluating software, you need to have a clear understanding of the current issues you are looking to resolve. This will allow you to ask the right questions.
The kinds of questions you should be asking yourself are:
Do your research
Most companies offer a lot of information on their websites and have sales or customer success representatives available to help assess your needs, product fit, and answer your questions. It’s a good idea to make sure to do your research and narrow down your choices to just a few vendors that meet your needs.
Ways to evaluate vendors:
Evaluate vendors, not just software
Since technology and software is such a huge investment for your organization in terms of time and money, it is important that the software vendor you choose is a true partner. They must be a willing and capable partner to your afterschool program’s long-term success.
Here are some key questions to consider when evaluating the reputation and service of a potential software vendor:
Ease of use for clients & administrators
Intuitive, user-friendly software is what is going to help you realize your organizational goals. You want to be sure the system is user-friendly so your staff can utilize it to its full potential and is not afraid to use it. You should also make sure it’s simple enough that training new users will not be a struggle. No amount of handholding, follow-up emails, or phone calls can cure a bad user experience.
Ask yourself these questions:
The cost: how to calculate TCO (total cost of ownership)
For afterschool programs whose budgets are stretched tight, cost is a big factor in choosing software. Some solutions appear inexpensive at first, but add-ons, support, hidden fees, and hardware required can inflate the cost.
The best way to estimate and get a clear picture of your total cost of ownership (TCO) is to evaluate what it will cost you over a 3-year period of time. When calculating TCO, remember to add the cost of:
If you follow these guidelines, you will be in good shape for implementing the right solution from the get-go. Software is a tool to help you enhance your operations and can help free up more of your time to focus on the students, families, and community your program serves.
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