Building an IT system in-house always seems like a good way to save money. After trying ACCESS and having graduate students and consultants attempt to get it right we had to admit that the result was:
- Clunky, with old fashioned look and feel. It was inefficient and time-wasting
- Couldn't handle e-mails to and from students so relationship records were incomplete.
- Was inflexible and needed expensive experts to make any changes
- Could not have reports easily modified to meet senior management requirements
Our appointed graduate student got part of the system done in the first summer, but the job was bigger than he had expected. He then had a change of career plan and moved to another university. What he left behind looked like a good start in solving our problem. Our IT Support people were fully committed to helping but although they had ACCESS skills they could not get free of other projects to actually do our work when we needed it.
They put is in touch with a freelance ACCESS programmer. He was expensive but he thought we would have our ideal solution for less than £15,000. As the months went by it was plain that he too had underestimated the job. So we had to spend more to complete the work. By the time we had spent £25,000 the system was looking quite useful so it went operational. Within 6 months our processes had changed and we started spending frightening amounts of money to make modifications.
After moving to the StudentRelate system we make our own modifications. The Student Disability CRM system is designed for user staff to modify the customisations carried out at implementation time. The interface is intuitive, it works with Outlook, new staff can use all the basic features after working with a skilled colleague for only half a day.