(This report is based on the survey with Schools EDP officers handling school ERP and Other software in school)
Definition of School ERP: A single software managing all aspects of schooling without redundancy and proper inter module data exchange. The data is managed centrally.
The moment we think about school automation we think of multiple software, one for fee, another software for library and so on. Carefully looking at the school we will easily conclude that a educational institute is a complete city within itself. We have functionality starting from HR to finance and a lot of other issues. From school inventory, tuck shop, examinations we have to manage a lot. So trying to implement automation individually leads us to dealing with multiple software and multiple vendors and a situation where we have basically annualized our school system with computers.
Stand alone software for school can not only be very difficult to manage but also can add a lot of redundancy in data entry and ambiguity of information within same organization. E.g. when a student takes admission we have to enter the name in various software that we are using like library, fee, examination section software and so on. So basically there is a lot of redundant work in this case. On the other hand there may be a case when a student already taken TC from the school is still reflecting in the Library software or the other software implemented for various other modules. In absence of a centralized software the procedure of getting clearance from various sections for the students still remains tedious and time consuming.
A properly planned single point integrated system (School ERP/Education ERP) can facilitate zero redundancy, inter module information exchange and thereby a lot of savings in the form of time and manual efforts. Following comparison report is on software implementation at various.
Stand alone School software versus School ERP software
Stand Alone: Redundancy of data entry
ERP: No redundancy
Stand Alone: Ambiguity of information as different software may show different values for same thing.
ERP: No ambiguity as the data is served from central location. Same logic of processing keeps away any such ambiguity.
Stand Alone: No inter module communication. For example there will be no way for the library software to know if the caution money for the library is collected at fee counter for a particular student.
ERP: School ERP systems are specially designed for inter module information sharing. Since all module use the same database and business logic all the modules can interact with each other seamlessly.
Stand Alone: Data security is generally an issue with stand along software as the data base is directly accessible by the users. There are always chances for accidental or deliberate loss of data.
ERP: Generally the data is only accessible only through the software interface in a controlled manner. The server is not in direct access of the users. So critical information is always intact.
Stand Alone: Central backup for the entire system is not possible.
ERP: Backup can be managed centrally with a great ease.
Stand Alone: Different approach and interfacing for different modules.
ERP: Generally similar interfacing approach for all modules. Makes it easy for the top level management to interact.
Stand Alone: Physical movement of data is required for reporting.
ERP: Multiple access point can eliminate physical movement of reports and other data.
Stand Alone: The dependency level even for routine information is higher in stand alone applications.
ERP: Routine information issues are generally available with required users without dependency.
Stand Alone: No possibility for developing a common business logic.
ERP: Runs on a common business logic for the institution.
Stand Alone: Easy to implement.
ERP: The implementation period is a bit lengthy.
Stand Alone: Low initial investment but higher recurring expenditure in terms of man hrs and usage of stationary for sharing routine information.
ERP: Comparatively high initial investment but low recurring expenditure in man hrs and information sharing throughout the institution.
Based on the implementation at various schools like Delhi Public School, St. Annes School, Rashtriya Indian Military College (Dehradun) Welham Boys School, and VDJS (Hissar) and Bhartiya Vidya Bhavans we have produced the comparison between two different approach for school automation. Most of these schools have upgraded from stand alone software to a full fledged ERP for schools.