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How to choose an SMS

March 5, 2019

A Student Management System (SMS) is the backbone of your RTO.

So how do you pick a good one?

A good place to start is to identify the present requirements and concerns of users - talk to your trainers, assessors, students and administrators and compile a list of features that your organisation requires. Then consider what new and additional functions may be available in an SMS that could improve service delivery, operational efficiency, even competitive advantage.

Selecting an SMS will be the start of a long, fruitful and joyful relationship between your RTO and SMS provider. To help get you started, here is a list of 3 essential features followed by 3 specialised features to consider when researching your options:

Essentials

  1. Support

The relationship you have with the service provider can have a huge impact on operations, training delivery and peace of mind. A good relationship will be built upon excellent communication - how quick is their response time? How good are their customer service metrics such as CSAT, CES or NPS? Will concerns/issues be addressed by phone or messaging service? Do you feel a part of the family?

  1. Industry expertise

As well as technical expertise, it will be wise to work with an SMS team with proven experience in the VET industry. Your software provider should have an intimate understanding of RTO issues in order to provide timely, customized solutions. When assessing SMS options, be sure to ask general questions about reporting & compliance requirements: AVETMISS, USI, VSL, CRICOS, ELICOS, RAPT, and SRTO 2015.

  1. Ease of use

Assess the SMS in terms of how easy it will be for your trainers, administrators and students to navigate the system. A good SMS is useable - the features are accessible, screens are fast and responsive across devices and the overall appearance of the software is appealing and enjoyable to use. Ask questions about the provision of onboarding services, training and support. Some systems come with built-in help guides, e-learning tools and in-app help assistants.

Extras

  1. Online Assessments

It’s so common for RTO’s to still be burdened with piles of paper-based assessment or, even if their assessments are online, needing a strong internet connection to assess students. An SMS with an online assessment tool will enable your RTO to go completely paperless in creating and conducting assessments, mapping and reviews. A future proof online assessment feature will work across all mobile devices as well as offline.

  1. E-Learning Options

Many RTOs deliver courses through e-learning platforms as well as face-to-face classes. An SMS that enables you to provide blended delivery modes such as online, distance and virtual classrooms, will offer students more flexibility and cost efficiencies in training delivery. The advantage of blended learning is that it provides an avenue to increase student engagement in learning and best accommodate different student needs, backgrounds and circumstances.

  1. Integrations

Integration is the ability of your SMS to collaborate with other software, allowing changes in one system to feed through transparently to another. You want an SMS that integrates data with learning/assessments management systems (i.e. Canvas, Moodle, Infotrain, Cloud Assessment), accounting packages (MYOB, QuickBooks, Debitsuccess) and e-commerce solutions (Eway, SqID, WordPress). Integration facilitates simple and seamless workflow, eliminating the need for multiple data entry and minimising error.

In choosing an SMS, the strategic approach will be to select software that is easy to use, meets the present needs of your RTO and is sufficiently flexible in depth and scope to support future growth. The hassle of changing systems and costly data migration can be avoided by selecting an SMS that is progressive and scalable - a system that supports developments in operational needs as your RTO taps new markets, offers new courses, and training and assessment delivery modes.

Read more about finding the right system for your training management needs here.