Ever try to cut a ripe tomato with a dull knife? The aftermath is typically not attractive, the results are less than useful, and the amount of effort needed can be more than the outcome is worth. Using an outdated student registration system can be described in these same terms.
Knowing the signs of an outdated student registration system benefits a manager as they strive to build their program and increase enrollment. Minimally, the information discovered from a system review assists a manager in designing in-house processes that start to overcome some of the shortfalls of an existing registration system. However, the information is also very valuable when building the case to replace an outdated registration system.
Critical Data Stored in a Variety of Locations
Data stored in multiple locations or in a variety of formats is difficult and time consuming to recover. This is especially true when some data is stored electronically and other data is only available in hard copy. This scattered storage approach is often complicated further by the lack of backup systems, endangering the existence of the data altogether.
Inability to Collect, Compile, Share, Analyze or Report in a Timely Fashion
Successfully managing a program often requires access to needed data in a timely fashion. Lack of easy access to data can delay a decision or prevent a proper decision, and both outcomes can be costly. Program managers often receive requests for data with an immediacy that may not be able to be met, reflecting poorly on the manager.
Must Work Outside the System to Complete Many Tasks
If staff work outside the system to perform daily functions, excessive time is spent on tasks that could have been spent performing tasks that would promote or build the program. This is especially true when dealing with decisions such as course maximums, waitlists and cancellations. The situation becomes even more frustrating when the data is available, but the access is slow or lacks relevancy to the need.
“When resources are tight, the lack of viable data becomes even more crucial.”
System Lacks Flexibility and Ease of Use
Over time, almost any person who finds a task consistently difficult or inflexible will either find or create an alternative. The outcome in this case could be detrimental to current and historical data. Staff may elect to keep spreadsheets on their local computer or store files in their desk drawer.
Lack of Analytics Results in False Assumptions and Bad Decisions
Making decisions is a daily job for program managers, staff and faculty. But making these decisions on faulty or incomplete data reduces the possibility of those decisions being successful and correct for the situation. Data needs to be available at both detail and aggregate levels in order to be effective and useful in the decision making process.
Impairs Ability to Make Strategic Decisions
Doing what you have always done usually means the outcome will probably what you always got before. Without the ability to make strategic decisions based on data, program growth, increased enrollment, cost efficiencies, and even profitability are at stake.
Not Able to Identify Revenue Growth Opportunities
Looking forward based on anecdotal accounts rather than solid data reduces the ability to identify direction and opportunities. Wrong choices may be made resulting in wasted time and resources. When resources are tight, the lack of viable data becomes even more crucial.
Delivers Poor Visibility into Day-to-Day Operations
Not knowing is probably one of an employee’s most dreaded fears. On a day to day basis, program managers and staff need a clear picture of their program in order to make appropriate and intelligent decisions such as Go-No Go, room changes, and even emergency weather related. Without that clear picture, staff may stumble through the day to day operations.
System Requires Additional Expenses
A registration system that requires local hardware and local technical support requires additional expenses above the costs of the system itself. For many organizations, local technical support can be difficult to access or is not available. These additional administrative expenses can add a burden to already tight budgets and pulls funds away from program development.
Lacks Modern Tools for Both the Student Experience and Staff Productivity
Not having the correct tool for the job increases time required to complete a task and increases the possibility that the outcome will be less than favorable. In today’s social media focused environment, some of these tools are now a requirement just to maintain the status quo, let alone delve into the future.
How does Your Registration System fare?
- Is it cloud based (access anywhere)
- Does it let customers register online
- Does it let customers pay online
- Is the master catalog derived from one database
- Can get basic and strategic data out easy, fast and accurately
- Are there marketing function (email, direct URLs, analysis)
- Are enrollments and revenue are increasing
- Does the system cost more to maintain than budget and/or time can support
- Are there over enrollment and under enrollment issues
- Is there still way too much paper being used to manage program
- Are there hidden cost for purchasing, housing, and maintaining servers to run your registration system