Despite the fact that there are now more Americans going to college than ever before, only 54.8% manage to graduate in six years. This has resulted in a large number of American youth carrying thousands of dollars of debt without a diploma to show for it. Enrollment and retention symbolize the two major challenges for the education sector in the country. Fortunately, there exists an effective – albeit unexpected – solution in the form of ERP systems.
Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP systems, has traditionally remained within the domains of large enterprises seeking to boost efficiency by synergizing disparate business functions. Modern ERP systems store critical information inside centralized databases enabling different departments to access to real-time data. Tasks are automated; the flow of information is streamlined, ultimately leading to an increase in productivity.
At the same time, advancements in IT have transformed the way educational institutes handle various operations – partly due to the integration of management systems. Ease of communication has made access to information easier and improved overall efficiency. However, the issue of enrollment and retention planning are still associated with legacy ERP systems. In this article, we’ll take a look at how ERP solutions help educational institutions overcome various challenges including enrollment and retention.
A Case for ERP Systems within Educational Institutions
An ERP solution is basically a set of tools that help modernize a campus by upgrading the management and planning processes including lecture sessions, customer care, library, student enrollment, courses, etc. Various functions are streamlined and automated within the set boundaries which drastically improve the effectiveness of operations and the allocation of academic resources in a better way. The following are a few advantages of incorporating ERP into educational institutions.
Centralized Data Management
Educational institutes need to store and manage enormous amounts of data for thousands of students, books, schedules, courses, plans, teachers, etc. An ERP solution is a centralized database that integrates the entire campus including all of its branches making data management much easier.
The software streamlines the flow of information across each department and keeps the teachers, students, and staff updated regarding important announcements. The possibility of communication breakdowns is eliminated due to greater control over both internal and external channels of communication.
Automated Payment Processes
Fee collection is an essential process for any educational institute. Before the advent of ERP, the administration had to manage the payment process by verifying each individual payment record to determine paid and outstanding fees. ERP solutions free management personnel from such tiring and cumbersome tasks and make the collection process hassle-free.
Payment processes are entirely automated as students are categorized according to their payment status. Components within the fee structures are tracked including amounts already paid for tuition, books, lab, etc. Such a feature keeps students updated regarding their payment status. Additionally, automated alerts are sent to students to ensure the fees are paid on time.
Improved Resource Management
Efficient ERP solutions do away with the need to manually maintain resource databases. The software tracks resource usage and real-time inventory enabling the management staff to monitor multiple activities, allocate resources and optimize operations in a seamless manner.
Newer ERP systems come in the form of cloud-based platforms that provide QuickBooks hosting capabilities. This frees educational institutions from having to invest in and maintain resource-intensive software or physical databases.
One of the most sought-after advantages of ERP systems across any sector is its cost-effectiveness. Businesses – including educational institutions – utilize ERP software to automate manual tasks such as payroll, administration, and fee collection to reduce physical effort which results in considerable cost savings. The capital can then be used for other educational purposes.
Educational institutions need to store and keep track of student records for the current academic year as well as the teachers, books, alumni, and other important resources for single or multiple campuses. When combined, the sheer volume of data becomes far too large to physically handle and secure.
Not only does an ERP system efficiently manage the data, but also keeps is secure and creates multiple backups in case of damages to the infrastructure. Furthermore, since ERP solutions also come with cloud-storage, databases are protected from cyber attacks.
Simplified Admission Processes
Admission processes in schools, colleges, and universities are inefficient and time-consuming. Applications require candidates to enter personal information regarding age, place of birth, qualifications, etc which is then manually compared with the eligibility criteria. The process almost always results in wasted resources. ERP systems automate the entire process.
Increasing Retention and Enrollment
All of the above-mentioned benefits of ERP solutions are geared towards attaining two main benefits: increased efficiency coupled with the ability to provide greater convenience to the students. ERP software contains analyzing capabilities that go through each potential application’s bio and assists in recruiting best-fit students. It also makes it easier for institutions to get a hold of ideal candidates based on certain demographics.
This competitive advantage also opens the door to personalized communications with potential students. The ability to get in touch and communicate faster with capable students allows a university to improve its standard of education as well as its overall credibility.
The streamlined flow of information makes it easier for the administrative staff and counselors to do their job. Automation increases convenience for both teachers and students whereas easier access to information allows counselors to better guide students. With so many processes working together to improve the level of education, students are less likely to view learning institutions in a negative light resulting in improved retention rates.
In conclusion, it can be safely stated that implementing management and accounting ERP software such as QuickBooks is in the best interest of educational institutions throughout the country. The ability to eliminate mundane manual tasks and improve the standard of education is invaluable benefits to organizations tasked with imparting knowledge to the next generation.