Finding a good system for your new RTO is a great way to establish your edge, while at the same time reducing your operating costs. Here are some customer experiences that you may find useful.
Don’t limit your system expectations to a simplistic AVETMISS compliant student management solution. Spending a bit more time thinking about your overall business needs can result in a system that delivers substantial and surprisingly effective solutions that put you ahead of the game and reduce running costs.
Having the functionality is great, but you and your team also need to be able to use it without having to spend weeks learning how to navigate overly complicated and poor performing software. Good software is easy to use, is responsive across mobile and desktop devices, looks attractive and motivates you to use it. Good usability means you get the benefits of the functionality without having to do too much extra product learning or having to navigate complicated, slow and ineffective screens.
While you’re building a relationship with potential vendors, pay close attention to how well they support you during any presentations or trials. Before committing to a contract be satisfied that the vendor has your best interest at heart. Is there a clear service level agreement (SLA)? Is training and start up support provided?
How often does the software get updated? We all know how frequently standards change in the VET Sector, is the company going to support you through these changes? What if you need to scale up or down, can the vendor cope with these changes?
An important point for RTOs – does the vendor have a good understanding of your reporting requirements and obligations as an RTO? Technical expertise is great, but that’s not enough for you. Your vendor must have a very good understanding of the VET Sector and the various reporting requirements: AVETMISS, USI, VSL, CRICOS, ELICOS, RAPT, SRTO, and the many state and federal funding arrangements. If they don’t have this level of understanding, you’ll be continually struggling to make your requirements understood each time you request support.
The internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to transact student data. But we now rely increasingly on the many benefits offered by cloud software. Is your vendor looking after the security of your data? What standards and best-practice policies have they put in place to protect the privacy of your staff and students? How do they protect your data from penetration attacks, loss of data and loss of your cloud services? These are all important questions to ask, but you can also use this resource for an independent checklist when quizzing potential vendors:
The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) website is a great resource to find security guidelines and strategies for managers and technical professionals. An hour or two researching the latest security advice will arm you with the right security questions to pose to your potential vendors.
Software can become dated or even obsolete for any number of reasons, including: privacy and security threats, related industry standards and compliance changes, improvements in mobile and web technologies, performance and speed improvements, pricing, service and support, improved system integration, etc. Vendors who have no maintenance plans or road maps are telling you that they have no intention of helping you stay abreast of change, or benefit from industry improvements and price advantages. Since you operate in an industry that is already known to be in a constant state of flux you at least need a vendor who is going to keep the software up to date with changes in in the VET Sector. That should be the minimum commitment you should accept.
Your business is not going to be the same size or have the same operating needs forever. If you grow, contract, access new markets, try new courses, training and assessment delivery models; your system requirements will undoubtedly change over time. You need a solution that can scale with the needs of your business as and when it changes. Will your potential vendor make that possible and easy for you to do?
Extensibility is the ability of your software functionality to be extended over time. This is similar but different from maintenance in that maintenance deals with changes to existing functionality, whereas extension is the addition of new functionality to extend the current software’s functional scope. Good vendors recognise that organisations like yours expect to take on new business challenges from time to time. They build in a good Application Program Interface (API) to facilitate extensions. That can help you adapt your system to meet new business needs or to address pockets of functionality that may no have been considered in the initial scope.
But the API enables you to extend in other areas too: integration with new business systems, custom reports and custom web pages or user interfaces that may be better suited to your specific business model. A very simple example: An RTO that delivers driver training would usually treat its vehicles as ‘training resources’. So having a resource planner that can manage vehicles would be a critical requirement for such a school, whereas it would have minimal importance to a school that delivers certificates in an arts & crafts syllabus.
All of these points have come from real client concerns that we have experienced over the years. We hope you’ll find them useful if you’re on the journey of setting up a new RTO. But of course your specific needs might be quite different. Bluegem specialises in scoping and fitting real world software solutions to business challenges. So we encourage you to contact us and discuss your system needs and see if a Bluegem solution is right for you.
The National VET Conference 2018 in Adelaide is a great opportunity to connect with us in person at Booth 80. Or connect with us by phone 1300 456 899, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, via our website: https://Bluegem.com.au or any of the social media channels on our website.