not a school management system

Boardingware Vs. Your School Management System – Stop comparing apples and oranges

In the past 6 months we have begun working with the most widely used school management system’s in the independent school industry. These include notable names such as Blackbaud, iSAMS, Veracross, Engage and many more school data management systems.

We have created integrations to provide our customers with a seamless way to manage the flow of information between their school management systems and Boardingware (check out how that works here). However, over the past few months it has caused some confusion amongst our customers and potential customers.

We’ve had a number of surprising questions about the differences between Boardingware and these school management systems.

“We’re already paying X for our school management system, how come you’re almost half the cost of that – and you only do boarding software whereas our SIS/MIS/SMS does all of this?”

“How come you cost 4 times more than ‘Module X’ which our school management system provides? Shouldn’t you be around the same cost?”

These are interesting questions because they imply that the cost of Boardingware somehow relates to the cost of your School Management System, which brought me to my second realisation.

I often find that this question is brought up by IT teams because they’re the ones with the technology budget on campus, however they usually have no experience working in the boarding houses/dorms. (Note** if we come across an IT manager that also works in boarding — our success rate is through the roof!)

In short, the 2 big realisations I’ve made….

  1. School staff that don’t work in boarding, struggle to see how all-consuming it is.
  2. Because of this – Boardingware is being lumped into the same category as a school management ‘module’.

Let’s take a deep dive into these two problems and see if we can get to the bottom of it.

Problem 1: School staff that don’t work in boarding don’t understand how all-consuming it is.

If everyone on a school campus lived in the dorms for just one month I’m confident we wouldn’t even be having this conversation….gosh, even one day should be enough.

This is the only way to see what they really do — for those of you that haven’t worked in boarding or lived in dorms, imagine being a parent…..for hundreds of teenagers and then multiply that by the pressures of their parents, the school and the wider community. 

People ‘on the outside’ think it’s like this…

boarding housemistress reading

When really, it’s like this…

school management system can't handle boarding

It truly is a 24/7 job for 40 weeks of the year but most people think it’s just a way for teachers to get free accommodation and lower school fees for their own kids….But trust me, they work for it.

This clearly points to the fact that the work that goes into boarding can go under-appreciated by the wider-school community but I’m confident that if anyone spends one night in there, they would see how antiquated (and vulnerable) the current processes are.

Problem 2: Is Boardingware like a ‘Module’ of a bigger product? Nope.

After some quick research, the simplest definition for a Module is a ‘component’ or a ‘part’ of a larger program. In today’s language — it’s a feature.

So, now we start to see where the confusion is coming from. People are comparing us to a ‘feature’ of a their School Management System. And due to not understanding the magnitude of work that goes into managing a boarding house, it’s completely understandable to think that a simple ‘feature’ could take care of  your dorms on your campus.

Why comparing Boardingware to a ‘feature’ or ‘module’ of your School Management System is like comparing apples and oranges

Now that we’ve established the root of the argument I want to point out how some people have gone amiss by comparing Boardingware to a ‘feature’ or a ‘module’ of a larger program.

Firstly Boardingware has a ton of valuable features in itself. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the highlights:

Not a school management system

So we’re sort of like 10+ ‘modules’ in one… Check them all out here.

If you’re in the IT team, I bet you’re thinking ‘our School Management System can already do some of this’ hey I get it, and it’s a fair question but please re-read point #1 and recognize that unless you do some full time work in boarding, it truly is hard to understand their unique needs. I suggest your school’s IT and boarding teams read this article together!

Our team is made up of boarding school alumni so we understand this world pretty well. On top of that we talk with our customers daily so you can rest assure that Boardingware is built to the very specific needs of boarding school staff.

We did not set out to compete with your School Management System (SIS), nor is it to ‘fill a gap’ in their product. Boardingware’s mission is to build the future environment for your boarding houses. A solution to the many needs within your houses to empower your staff to provide safe, secure and nurturing care for your boarders.

And I’m sure you’d rather see it for yourself – so why not click here to register for a product demo!




Paul Organ is the Co-Founder of Boardingware (safe & simple boarding school management software ) who loves all things business, design and basketball.

2 comments: On Boardingware Vs. Your School Management System – Stop comparing apples and oranges


    I agree, Boardingware is a great, one it’s now, product for schools. I believe much of what you hear comes from growing frustration with MIS/SIS/SMS systems that do not have what Boardingware has.

    Boardingware offers a very nice user interface that many can jump right into. I think much of the frustration with faculty/staff etc comes from lack of a “one stop shop” product that does give us what we crave. I personally do hope Boardingware continues to leverage its expertise and knowledge of the Residential School market to push itself further.

    Thanks for always listening

    • Hey Gonzo! Thanks for the comment, you’re right, staff are always looking for a solution that does everything perfectly, but much like business software – people are sick of software that on the surface ‘does everything’ but lack the depth to make a truly great product. So we’re starting to see companies that specialise in specific segments of the market, like Boardingware!
      Thanks again for your encouragement, and we’ll be sure to keep that in mind!


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