Choosing admission and enrollment management software is a challenging decision. Not only is this technology a significant investment, but the solution you select can make or break your team’s productivity. It can also impact the ease of your application and enrollment process, the way candidates and their families perceive your institution, and your admission process as a whole.
In other words, it’s critical you make the right choice.
But when you enter the request for information (RFI) and request for proposal (RFP) processes, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by technical jargon and miss vital information.
To help you better evaluate and compare admission, enrollment, and tuition management solutions before you buy, here are ten essential questions:
1. How long has your organization worked within the education vertical?
There are hundreds of customer relationship management systems (CRMs) available, but only a small fraction of those programs service the education market — and even fewer specialize in school admission and enrollment.
One of the first questions you should ask a provider is how long they’ve been working with schools. You can also ask for examples of institutions they’ve assisted. By working with an education-specific CRM, you can ensure you’re partnering with a provider who understands your unique challenges and objectives.
2. Can you share testimonials and case studies from previous customers?
Many providers feature quotes from happy clients and case studies that exhibit customer success on their organization’s website. But if you can’t locate either, don’t be afraid to ask. Take time to learn how your potential software provider works with their clients and how they’ve overcome specific obstacles.
This is especially crucial if you’re considering a solution that services additional markets. If they don’t have proven success in education, it’s best to look for another provider that does.
3. How does your solution compare to your competitors?
Every company says their solution is the best, but can they explain why? Asking this question allows providers to highlight key features and benefits you may not have discovered in your research. It can also prompt additional questions that’ll help you make the most informed decision.
For example, if a provider’s solution is mobile accessible, you may want to dig deeper and ensure they offer a responsive design that renders appropriately on devices of any size.
4. Is your admission and enrollment management software customizable?
When it comes to managing your admission and enrollment, customization is essential. This extends to various forms (like applications, recommendations, and more), email workflows, candidate scoring criteria, and even the look-and-feel of the portal prospective students and parents access.
Be sure to identify precisely what can be customized and how. For example, some solutions may allow you to customize form fields, but not your data export configurations. It’s up to you to decide what’s important for your processes, and whether or not you’re willing to compromise on certain functionalities.
5. Can you tell me about your software user experience?
When reviewing a demo, consider whether the school admissions software is simple and intuitive or complex and overwhelming. Remember: Your admission software should be robust and powerful. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be hard to use. In fact, it should be highly accessible and straightforward. Even the least tech-savvy member of your staff should be able to obtain the information they need.
Be sure to consider the user experience from both the internal/back-end view as well as the candidate-facing portal. The easier your solution is to use, the better it will reflect on your school and its processes.
6. Can I personalize my communications with candidates and parents?
The best way to keep applicants engaged is through personalized emails and letters tailored to their specific interests. By creating communications that speak directly to prospective students and their families, you can establish rapport and earn their trust.
It’s critical you also ask how you’re able to personalize communications. For example, can you personalize an entire email workflow, or merely change a recipient’s name in a standard template? Additionally, find out how much of the personalization process is automated and how much you’ll have to do manually.
7. Does your solution integrate with other applications?
You likely already have a few pieces of technology you and your team love and rely on every day. And you probably don’t want to shake up your entire technology infrastructure when you implement your new admissions and enrollment management software.
That’s why you must ensure the student enrollment management solution you choose plays well with your existing apps, like your online payment software, fundraising tools, school information system (SIS), and more. Ask about specific programs you want to integrate with. If there’s something that’s missing, ask if they’re open to evaluating new integration partnerships.
8. Will I have access to reporting and metrics?
You’d be hard-pressed to find an admission and enrollment tool that doesn’t offer reporting. Nevertheless, it’s still important to ask this question. The level and sophistication of reporting vary by CRM. You want to be sure you have access to as much performance data as possible.
From at-a-glance charts to in-depth, custom time-based comparisons, the more data you have, the better informed you’ll be when it comes time to make challenging decisions. Equipping yourself with these numbers will ensure you’re always prepared to sit down with the c-suite and communicate your success.
9. How will you assist us with implementation and training?
A solution is only as powerful as the skill of those using it. If you and your team aren’t adequately trained on how to make the most of your admission and enrollment management software investment, it will quickly become a significant waste of time, money, and other precious resources.
Be sure to evaluate the level of support you’ll receive from a provider not only at the point of launch but for the duration of your partnership. Ask about the support process. Figure out how easy or difficult it is to get in touch with someone, whether or not you’ll be assigned a dedicated representative, and if they provide on-going training opportunities.
For example, SchoolAdmin hosts a live webinar series for prospective and existing customers, as well as on-site training visits to make sure you and your team get the full value of our solution.
10. How much do you charge for customer support?
In addition to monthly or annual software subscription costs, some providers also charge additional fees for customer support requests. These charges can quickly add up — especially if you need a lot of assistance with customization.
While it may seem like a provider is more cost-effective than another due to lower annual rates, these additional fees can make some solutions a much heftier investment than you anticipated. Always get the exact math before you make your decision. For example, ask exactly how much they’d charge for things you know you’ll need — like initial software implementation, running specific reports, or customizing forms.
In addition to asking about charges, it’s also a good idea to ask how a company’s customer service ranks compared to its competitors. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific metrics, like an organization’s net promoter score (NPS). Also, check sites like Capterra and G2 to read reviews from a brand’s current and former customers.
After all, when you’re investing in new admission and enrollment management software, you need to know the product is backed by friendly, reliable service from knowledgeable professionals.
Comparing admission and enrollment management software is no easy task — especially when you consider how much this technology can impact your success. However, by asking these questions during the RFI and RFP process, you’ll be better equipped to make the right choice for your team.