Working with language schools as an international agent, Demiks team gets to communicate with school founders, managers and administration staff first hand frequently. Recently we were helping one of our schools in Mexico City adopting a school management system. After research, meetings and discussions we found out the language learning industry is missing a reliable CRM or admin software for language schools. This article is a summary of what happened during the last couple of months and what we’re going to do in the future to fill the gap.
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Happily there are hundred of software for schools on the market. Helping one of our clients to choose a solid software for administration and managing international payments, we got surprised by the number of options to choose from after a quick search for language school software. We had to filter by features we needed to narrow it down to a more manageable list. CRM, online payments and a calendar view of student arrivals were our must have list of features. Next step we ruled out the ones that looked old and out of date according to the images on their website. The remaining list came down to a handful in number. Now this is a good list to evaluate, right?
We sorted them by price and just to surprise you, we started by the more expensive ones. Signed up on every single one and spent some time trying to figure out how they work. We dedicated a couple of hours to each software to see if they meet our requirements. We also tried to sort them by quality, intuitiveness of user experience, and last but not least, the frequency of updates.
We were surprised by the results of this study. We didn’t find any software that meets the minimum criteria for the school we were working with. The navigation through features was not fluid in any of them. This wasted some of our time because finding our features and testing them took longer that anticipated. Titles selected for each feature, form and report were not explanatory enough. Trying each feature, it became clear to us that the software were built for one school and turned into a product. Best practices and the vocabulary of the schools, marketing, sales and finance were not present. For instance, the impression of an important feature, CRM(Customer Relationship Management) was extremely trivial. At its best, a list of student is called CRM and that is as far as it goes.
Choosing from existing products on the market is absolutely off the table.
The school we’re trying to find a software for asked us if it’s a good idea to hire a developer to build it by themselves. Actually we get asked this question frequently. Hiring one developer does not mean you can build a software from scratch. It takes a team, experienced and reliable. It also takes forever to deliver the first usable version made by one software developer. At the end, is this software well designed based on the business requirements? After all the software developer can’t be the product owner, scrum master, business analyst, tester and training & support expert. Scalability, security and performance are just some other concerns you should figure out with one single developer. All this is just until that software developer finds a better job elsewhere.
Outsourcing the project to a custom software development company is the other way to go. This is a solution not all schools can really afford. Total cost of ownership of a home made software is high. Any good software has a never ending lifecycle. After the software is built by that (probably offshore) company, your admin staff, teachers and student start using it. Feedbacks should be reflected in next versions of the software. A continuous build, measure, learn circle goes on forever. Technologies change faster than ever now and this implies changing your software to adapt with them too. At the end you’ll realize you’re paying a fortune for a school administration software or you get stuck with an outdated software.
After a considerable number of internal meetings here at Demiks, we made a bold decision. Since we are already working with language schools in Canada and Mexico, we will be offering a school management software as a complementary service. This way we add value to our offering to language schools as well as freeing them from the hustle of the product evaluation and decision making.
We are building a software according to business standards and best practices while spending time with our schools to translate those concepts to managing a modern language school. This software is integrated with other apps and platforms we have as well as third parties like Stripe and PayPal for online payments. Its cloud based architecture enables the accessibility and connectivity with other platforms that is a must have for today’s businesses.
Demiks is the perfect team to take on this challenge of solving this problem once and forever. Not only our team has built software for education but also we have experience running or managing schools. We have hands on modern technologies, business and long history in education industry. These reasons qualify us to be a good fit for providing this service to schools. Schools deserve the best of quality in a school management software and related services. We are building one with agile methodologies to ensure the correspondence between our product and school’s needs. Therefore we are putting together a wish list in which you could add your requirements or vote for the ones you want us to put our focus on.
Thanks to our wishlist and our school’s votes and opinions, the feature set we are putting together in our backlog is completely responding to the requirements of the language schools operating at the era of technology.
Our team is walking on the cutting edge of technology. We are proud to include masters at the art of designing modern software in our team. We are obsessed with methodologies that ensure quality, scalability, performance and agility. We ship new features and improvements frequently. Our shipping pipeline is fully automated to eliminate the manual work and put the latest version at your access as soon as it is tested and ready to use. You’ll see improvements on your cloud base management software without stopping your day to day work for dev operations.
We use the same system as our users to increase the level of sympathy with them. We also spend time with our schools and watch over their shoulder to see how they use the system. We want to improve the usability and resolve user experience glitches with the help of the users. Our wishlist, feedback from users and spending time with the schools helps us maximize the productivity at language schools with our software platform.
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We are launching our Spanish school in our city in few weeks. At the moment we are looking for: 1. a School management tool (with CMR) a. adding students, creating groups, scheduling classes, assigning teacher,… mainly for our school management (no online). b. Access for students and teachers to review: diary of content of the lessons, assignments, 2. online platform that would help us to support our student in their learning experience in 2 ways: a. Online exercises/quiz, created courses for our students. b. Virtual video learning Our school has one branch only and around 1 teacher, avarege student for eache semester would be 100. Our questions: I. Do you think your platform could cover our needs? II. Could be easily integrated in our wp website III. Could be translated into Polish language? IV. If your platform doesn’t cover 1 of the 2 main requirements (school management + online learning) would it be possible to integrate your platform with a different another one? (one login, etc) Thank you very much in advance