The prospect of graduating from spreadsheets or sticky notes to placement software is exciting. There are so many time and cost savings, plus the ease with which compliance, reporting and risk can be managed. However, it can be overwhelming for placement managers to navigate the world of placement software when it’s new to you. We’ve put together this guide to help you choose the right placement management software for your organization.
1. Make Sure You Are Clear On What You Need
Every school, university and placement program is different. As a starting point, ensure your team understands and agrees on what you need or what your requirements are.
When assessing solutions, consider:
- Data centralization: e.g., does it keep all your placement-related communications, forms, and reports in one place?
- Time savers: e.g., where will this software save you time? What can it automate for you? For example, how quickly can you retrieve forms or create reports for both your university and your accrediting body? Can data be pre-populated in forms, and be automatically extracted from forms back into the main database?
- Functionality: e.g., at minimum, does it do what you need? Can it offer additional value to tasks you aspire to do, like bulk communication, notifications, and support for common workflows?
- Access: e.g., can students and university supervisors easily update data using mobile apps? (Check that they are ‘true’ mobile apps and that they can be used in areas that may not have reliable internet access, not just mobile friendly sites)
- Legal: e.g., does it comply with common legal requirements like FERPA, HIPAA and GDPR?
- Regulatory: e.g., can you easily track accreditation requirements and create reports that can be provided to accrediting bodies?
- Integrations: e.g., does it connect to your student information system, are LTI integrations available (e.g., with your LMS), is it IMS certified?
- Implementation, training, and support: e.g., is there customized training and support to have your team live as quickly as possible, and is ongoing training and support available?
- Accessibility: e.g., check if there’s a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) available, and if Web Content Accessibility Guides (WCAG) are covered.
- Cost structure: e.g., is it a simple pricing model that empowers all users to be successful, are there different solutions for departments versus enterprise? Does the vendor/provider charge the university or the students directly?
- Reporting: e.g., can you generate the reports you need easily, with the data you need?
- Emergency management: e.g., does it enable you to track and contact students immediately in the case of an emergency? Does it provide a way for you to communicate with students in case the university email system goes down? (This happens!)
- Enterprise/scalability: e.g., can it be configured to suit the needs of any department, not only so it supports your team, but has the potential to further simplify processes by being used across your organization, with each department having its own instance and customization?
2. Consider What Matters to the Dean
Deans are constantly thinking about how to stand out in a competitive education marketplace, organizational effectiveness, student success and research activity. And then there’s legal and compliance. Let your Dean know how student placement management software can make their lives easier and can empower you and your team to work more efficiently.
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Better Manage Privacy and Compliance
Highly-sensitive information flows through student placement programs, like contact details, site locations, evaluations, final grades, and in some instances, medical histories. Risk related to compliant handling and storage of data can be reduced by storing it securely using student placement management software. Ensure that any solutions you assess hold data under FERPA and HIPAA guidelines.
Student, Site and Staff Satisfaction Improvements
With student placement software in place, organizations will see increases in student, staff, and site satisfaction. Processes become far more efficient and easier for everyone. Students can focus on learning; sites and teaching staff on educating; and placement managers on running effective programs, not arduous and time-consuming manual administration.
Increase Enrollments and Enhance Reputation
With stakeholders freed up to focus on what counts, programs and organizations gain an edge. Streamlined processes mean sites prefer working with you, a stronger placement program is attractive to prospective students, and staff can put their energy into teaching and research. This can culminate in positive moves on the ranking tables.
3. Engage and Align Your Stakeholders
It’s important to make sure the placement team, faculty, IT and wider organizational management are aligned on what you need, agree that there is an opportunity to enhance your current processes and that there is resource available. If you can get this alignment from the outset of your project, you’ll have a much easier pathway to approval and implementation.
When you talk about student placement management software to different people, talk in terms that they understand and care about. For example, if you’re speaking with your IT manager, talk about how software could make their infrastructure more compliant, how an enterprise solution can be more efficient for their team, and how support requests will drop. Inspire the people who you need support from, so that when the time comes to make a decision, you can count on them.
Sonia is the leading software solution for student placement management. It’s easy to use, it powers personalized placements, reliable data management and compliance, and provides the flexibility you need to scale across your organization.
Take your placement program to the next level with Sonia.
Inspired by: Samuels, K. (2018, September 7). Student Placement Software for the Social Work Field Office: Goodbye Post-it Notes! [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://laureliversonhitchcock.org/2018/09/07/student-placement-software-for-the-social-work-field-office-goodbye-post-it-notes/