So, you've found a program that seems to be a magic bullet. It will save your team time, save your school a bucket-load of money, and remove a number of your tedious day-to-day tasks. Sounds like a dream scenario, right? It should be easy to get approval!
If you've ever tried to implement a new system in your school, you'll know that it's not so simple. Often you need sign-off from a number of stakeholders before you can move ahead, and getting the budget to invest can be a tricky undertaking.
At Digistorm, we've worked with a number of school IT, Marketing and Admissions staff who are trying to get sign off on purchasing our products. So we know a thing or two about supporting clients who are advocating for new software! In this post, we're going to run through our top tips for getting budget sign-off for your new program. Here we go!
1. Get input from key staff early
If you're looking for a new system to solve a problem or pain-point at your school, it's a good idea to involve other staff who might be experiencing the same thing — and the earlier, the better! Tell them you're looking at software to streamline their day-to-day operations and ask them if there are any features or functionality that they'd find useful. Once you've come up with a shortlist, you can also ask them for feedback and take it into consideration when you make your decision.
Not only does this help you to narrow down your search, it can also get key staff onboard early as you've asked them for your feedback and brought them into the process.
2. Put together a business case
Once you've determined which software is the best fit for your school, it's time to convince senior stakeholders to invest.
A business case is a brief document that outlines the benefits, costs and risks of pursuing a new project at your school. A good business case also outlines the benefits, costs and risks of not pursuing the new project. After all, there's a good chance many stakeholders will be keen to continue on with your current system. You need to demonstrate that the risks of doing nothing far outweigh the risks and costs of implementing the new system.
3. Ask for references
One of the most powerful pieces of evidence that you can present to stakeholders is references from other like-minded schools. Any software company worth their salt will have a laundry list of previous clients who are happy to provide a reference for you, or take a short call and answer any of your questions.
You can also search the company's website for case studies to see how the software has improved processes and cut costs at various schools.
4. Set up a demonstration
There's nothing quite like seeing software in action, and organising a demo of the software for key stakeholders is one of the best ways that they can understand how it works.
Most software companies can either set you up with access to a restricted version of their software, which you can use to demonstrate it to your company. Better yet, many companies will demo the software for you, and answer any questions that your stakeholders might have on your behalf.
5. Understand your pricing options
Many software companies offer tiered pricing, dependant on the number of users in the system, the number of enrolments at your school or the size of your staff. When you present pricing to your board, make sure you don't just present them with an introductory price. Instead, show them the full cost of the system over a number of years.
This includes ensuring you've researched all:
setup costs and ongoing fees
maintenance, support, certification and training costs
charges for documentation
This step seems counterintuitive but a little research goes a long way to demonstrating to your board that you've fully assessed the costs of taking on the new system. After all, there's nothing worse than getting sign-off on one figure and then having to go back and get sign-off on a revision!