There are many reasons that school districts may opt to upgrade their software systems. Certainly, many IT architectures are outdated and need new technology to simplify processes, track data efficiently, and save time.
As they’ve developed from clunky, regularly-lost nuisances to sophisticated data trackers, one of these software additions has increasingly been smart cards. These modern ID cards can provide considerable value for schools that integrate them. Not only do these cards help secure perimeter access, but they also simplify student attendance tracking and streamline visitor management.
But as smart ID cards have become more commonplace, schools now have many options to choose from when deciding on smart cards and smart card software to use at their schools. The best choice of software integrates seamlessly with already-existing software infrastructure to simplify tracking and data reporting, not complicate it. At its most basic, the definition of software integration is combining multiple unique software programs into one focused, coherent system.
Here are nine considerations to account for when choosing the most straightforward smart card software for your district.
1. Make sure your chosen software can co-exist with your Student Information System (SIS).
Your smart card software is only operational if it can seamlessly integrate with your SIS. The software you choose should be able to rely on the data stored in your SIS; at the same time, the SIS should be flexible enough to update based on the information collected on the smart card software.
If these two systems are incompatible, the data collected by your smart card software will be almost useless.
2. Develop a technical analysis of how the new software will be used in practice.
When testing any new software, you want to first map your project flows. Specifically, you want to analyze if there are any snares – called unhappy paths – that disrupt the normally-functioning path of a process.
3. Decide between the four common types of software integration.
There are four common types of software integration models, and any one of them can be workable depending on your situation. They are as follows:
- Vertical integration. This model is mostly focused on short term needs and focuses on integrating software based on functionality.
- Enterprise service bus (ESB). This model builds connection between a custom sub-system and other systems.
- Common data format. This adaptive model means that the adapter doesn’t have to convert data into different formats.
- Star system. This model connects two subsystems; however, a problem can be when a new sub-system disturbs the architecture.
4. Ensure that your different software programs can talk to one another.
Depending on your existing software, some types of integrations can be very difficult, or, in some cases, impossible. What’s more, sometimes, when districts run newer versions of a program, they may not still integrate with your system. This means that even if your smart card software was at one point well-connected with your systems, it may not stay that way.
To make sure that a potential program can function with your current set-up – and throughout the life of your system – make sure to ask any potential providers the following questions:
- With what programs does your software operate?
- What versions of your software will integrate with my system?
5. Synchronize data to retain consistency.
Well-integrated software can update data seamlessly across multiple platforms and systems. For example, if a teacher wants to access student attendance data, she should be able to access this information in one software system, while a principal could access this same information in another system. What’s more, both of them should be able to have up-to-date, real-time information collected by the smart card. After all, what’s the point of collecting information about a student’s attendance if it’s not accessible immediately?
6. Get rid of duplicate processes.
One of the reasons that districts look for software integration updates is because they are wasting time with duplicate entries into multiple programs. For example, is your HR software and SIS requiring you to record information about students more than once?
This is the kind of repetitive and unnecessary process you want to avoid. What’s more, you certainly don’t want to choose new smart card software that requires more repetitive processes.
7. Choose a software provider that lets you customize your smart card software for your school’s needs.
A one-size-fits-all solution to smart card software integration isn’t effective for most districts. Districts have diverse student bodies, sizes, and needs that make different systems most effective for them. Thus, if a software provider suggests that they only have a single product for every customer, you likely want to look elsewhere.
8. Check for operating speed and monitor halts in the free flow of data.
It’s possible for software to integrate without being successfully integrated. What this means is that systems run slowly, fail to run seamlessly, or have a considerable amount of downtime. These problems suggest a failure of successful integration, meaning that you should likely opt for different smart card software.
9. Choose a smart card software that provides more than one functionality.
Some smart card systems only provide limited functionalities, like attendance recording. However, modern smart card software systems can offer other options, like door access, visitor management, and even point of sale. In other words, don’t limit yourself by choosing a limited smart card software system. Instead, choose a software option that doesn’t force you to buy additional software add-ons later. A well-integrated, cohesive system is a better long-term investment than less expensive, less far-reaching options.
ScholarChip’s One Card Software
ScholarChip’s Automated ID Management software easily integrates with your already-existing HR and SIS software to provide a more robust data tracking. Not only can ScholarChip provide custom solutions for districts, but it provides real-time data that can be understood by these other systems. What’s more is that the software automates reporting of data to state and federal offices.
ScholarChip is an all-in-one platform solution to comprehensively help reduce school threats and address the important issues surrounding school safety. Data from students, faculty, and stakeholders are leveraged to manage school access, attendance, and behavior management through the platform tools to increase security and campus climate for schools.
If you would like to learn more about the right smart-card software for you to integrate with, feel free to schedule a 1-on-1 strategy session with one of our specialists today!