Picking an ERP system to implement in your school board is very similar to picking a significant other. You want them to be reliable, hard-working, easy to deal with, anticipatory of your needs, and – let’s be honest – visually appealing…you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them, after all.

You and your new ERP solution will (hopefully) be entering a long term relationship, so it’s vital that you choose one that meets all of your needs and makes your day to day role easier. Here are three important steps to take when entering into a relationship with a new ERP solution:

The First "Date"

It may sound silly, but it’s important that you ‘date’ your potential solution before deciding to move forward with it. By this we don’t mean that you need to take sales people or consultants out to dinner and a movie, but you need to spend time getting to know the solution - to see what it’s about, what it can do, and if it will meet the credentials you need/want it to. After all, you wouldn't enter a relationship with someone without testing the waters with them first, would you?

So what's the first date between you and your potential new solution? A guided trial. This will allow you to spend time using the solution and get a better feel for what it can do for your school board. Push buttons, ask all of the questions you might have, and take it for a test drive to see what day to day life with the solution might be like. While many providers offer free trials, trying to navigate financial software on your own tends to be a bit of a time-waster due to the complexity of the solution. This means it's important to choose a provider that offers guided trials. With a guided trial, you’ll have someone take the time to lead you through the software, demonstrate its features and functionality, provide helpful tips on how to use it effectively, and show you exactly how it will work to meet the needs of your organization. So maybe we should think of it as more of a double date.

Getting your Friends’ Opinion

Ahh, the friend test. This is one of the hardest tests to pass in the beginning stages of a relationship. Friends can deeply sway your opinion, but also provide great advice and insight if they’ve been in a similar situation.

Talk to your colleagues. Talk to other school boards. Determine what solutions they’re using and what their experiences have been. When deciding on a solution, look for an organization that has lots of case studies and testimonials and will gladly put you in touch with other school boards that use their software. Anyone can hype themselves up, but it's what others have to say about a solution that is a true testament to its value.

Figuring out the Logistics of the Relationship

So, now that you’ve found a solution that’s exactly what you and your school board are looking for, it’s time to think about the logistics. Similar to a real relationship, it's easy to focus on the functionality that you need/want and make sure they 'check all the boxes', but the logistical factors can be just as important. Does it make sense to live together (on-premise) or not (cloud)? If you choose an on-premise solution, how often will you want to move the relationship to the next level (upgrade) and how will this be budgeted?

You'll also need to talk to your IT department about things like backup and availability of the solution. If you want to make things simpler, you may want to look at a Cloud solution. That way you’ll know that the IT infrastructure is taken care of for you and you don't have to worry about scheduling and budgeting upgrades as you'll always be automatically updated to the latest version.

The key aspect in any successful relationship, either interpersonal or with a School Board ERP solution, is making sure that it is a good fit for everyone involved. This is why it's important to treat your solution like a potential life partner and test the waters before you commit - you’re going to be spending a lot of time with it so it's important that you love it!

Ready to break up with your old solution and take Sparkrock's K12 solution out for a ‘date’? Awesome! You've got a few options to move forward:

Unfortunately, for all options the Chicken Parmigiana is not included... but great conversation is!

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