Question: When do most tutoring companies discover that they need a better data management system?
Answer: When their current systems stop working.
If you are like most education services company owners or administrators looking to adopt a new tutoring data management system, you are likely not a startup. You are more likely to have existing students, instructors, administrators, programs, and most importantly, existing systems in place. This includes some kind of customer records management, a scheduling system, and some kind of billing system.
You developed these as solutions to the problems you faced as your company grew. But at some point in your company’s growth, your current systems stopped working as well as you would like.
Here’s the rub: you and your staff are likely attached to your current ways of running your business. When looking for a new system, you are likely going to be looking through the lens of your current solutions. This attachment can make it difficult to find the best system for your needs and can create lots of problems, missed opportunities, and a painful transition.
An example may help you to understand this better:
Random Tutoring Company: A solution-vs.-objective example
Random Tutoring Company is seeking a new data management system. One of their requirements is a system that will allow them to easily print out a large-format daily schedule to hang on their waiting room wall. Unfortunately, they can’t find a vendor who has this feature. This printable calendar is only one of a long list of features they can’t seem to find on the market.
Seeking specific solutions can be problematic and difficult
This is a great example of an owner/administrator attached to a solution.
Here are the 3 problems with this approach.
- Solutions are unique. Given that there are many ways to do things, there is a good chance that a given vendor’s system will not have incorporated your unique set of solutions.
- Given that you are having problems with your current solutions, it is highly unlikely that you have developed “best practice” solutions to your problems.
- Most importantly, by focusing on solutions, you are missing the more important underlying objectives your solution was designed to meet.
“We need to print large format calendars” is only one of many solutions Random Tutoring Company is looking to map to a new system. In order to find the right new system which can grow with Random Tutoring Company’s business, they need to uncover the hidden objectives underlying their current solutions.
Get outside perspective to look for tutor management objectives.
At LearnSpeed, we take a consultative approach to help companies to clearly define their business model and key objectives. While Random Tutoring Company is a fictitious name, the request to print out large format calendars was from a real company that had approached us in need of a new system.
LearnSpeed: As a part of your overall system, we understand that you are looking to automate your existing practice of printing a daily schedule. Tell me more about this. What parts of your current solution is working well?
Random Tutoring Co: Instructors and administrators can easily see their daily schedule. The printed schedule is large and prominent in our office, so everyone knows where to find it.
LearnSpeed: What parts of your current solution are not working well?
Random Tutoring Co: It takes an administrator 20 minutes each day to format and print the schedule. That’s why we want a system to manage and print the schedule.
LearnSpeed: Is there anything else that is not optimal about your current process?
Random Tutoring Co: Well, the schedule frequently changes after it has been printed, which requires an administrator to reprint the schedule or cross off and add students manually, which has led to confusion. Also, instructors and students can’t see their schedules until they arrive at our Random Tutors learning center.
Looking at what is and is not working well, we helped them to identify the hidden objectives underlying their current solution.
LearnSpeed: It sounds like you are looking for a solution which will meet the following objectives:
- Administrators, instructors, students, and parents can easily access and see their daily schedule.
- Everyone knows where the schedule is located.
- Administrators can efficiently manage the schedule.
- The schedule is clear (not confusing).
- Administrators, instructors, students, and parents can see the schedule remotely.
- Administrators, instructors, students, and parents are updated on changes to the schedule.
Random Tutoring Co: Yes!
Clarifying objectives will help you map your existing solutions to a new system.
This is a simplified, yet real-world example. The key is to work with a vendor who understands this principle and can help you through the mapping process. It will save you time, money, and pain. It will also help you to improve your business practices, which will help you grow your business.
When thinking about upgrading your data management systems, always work to discover your hidden objectives.