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Think hard about software

Before you opt for a management software package, it's a good idea to consider the following points.

* Impact: will it make a difference to what you already do? And will it make life easier for teachers, managers andor administrators?

* Purpose: is the package designed for the curriculum or administration - or both?

* Cost: is the resource bought outright or on subscription? If the latter is the case, how much do upgrades cost? Will you need to invest in new equipment such as a laptop for every teacher or a computer in every classroom?

* Licensing: are you buying a whole-school licence or one for a limited number of users? Does it include home and school use? And how much will it cost to buy any additional licences?

* Modularity: can you purchase modules or are you committed to the complete package?

* Compatibility: can you use the package within your school's existing ICT infrastructure?

* Inter-operability: will it work with other programs, such as a management information system or a word processor package, so that data can be transferred between the two?

* Adaptability: how easy will it be to integrate the package into your school's existing processes?

* Flexibility: can it be easily adapted or customised to suit your school's needs? And can it be used to record data and generate reports?

* User-friendliness: how easy will it be for interested parties to use the package? Bear in mind that busy teachers will soon get tired of a system that is too complex.

* Training: how much is required and does the vendor offer any form of induction as part of the package?

* Support: what kind of back-up, if any, is available with the product? Is the support purely technical or does it include any specific advice about how to use the program in a school?

* Access: will you be able to access the program from any computer in the school? And what about access from home?

* Security: how safe will your data be in the new system?

* Upgradability: can your new system be upgraded to take into account any new developments such as updated schemes of work?

George Cole

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