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October 21, 2019

Beyond the Software: Selecting the Right Scholarship Management System Vendor

Even after you've decided on a scholarship management system, you might still have some hesitation. The demo looks great and it seems like it hits all your requirements, but what happens after the sale? Here's what you should look for in a provider to have confidence in your decision.


If you’re about to pull the trigger on a new scholarship management system, you probably have a lingering worry in the back of your mind.  Will it really work for our organization?

The vendor might be saying “yes, it can do that” to all your questions, but what if they’re glossing over the finer details?  How can you be sure?

As you navigate this final phase of your evaluation, here are five clues that the chosen vendor will have your back during implementation and well beyond.

They document and confirm your requirements

In today’s complex technology environment, you need to be confident that your scholarship management system will integrate with your existing tools and fit into your organization’s workflows. The last thing you want is to implement a new system and still need workarounds to make it function the right way.

Look for a vendor who prepares a blueprint for the system’s functionalities and how data will flow between different applications. But don’t be fooled by standard templates or confusing tech jargon. You want a provider who takes your own questions and explains exactly how the system will meet your specific needs in clear language. They shouldn’t ask you to sign a contract until you have clarity about how your program will work within the system. 

Speaking of clarity, if your organization has limited tech knowledge, you might consider engaging a tech consultant to walk you through the decision making process. That way, you won’t overlook important details that you wouldn’t have known to ask.

They’re on top of trends in the scholarship space

As noted above, integration is a critical element of your requirements. Make sure your vendor is aware of other IT solutions available for scholarship providers and has the ability to connect with them. 

An example is ScholarSnapp. In any Scholar Snapp-enabled application, students are able to enter all their information once, and then “Snapp” that information into any other scholarship or admissions application. 

Vendors who have already built integrations like this are demonstrating their commitment to staying on top of their clients’ changing needs. Ask questions to see how familiar they are with your “world” and what they’re doing to make sure the system remains relevant. You want a proactive partner, not simply a static software package.

They assign an implementation lead who works one-on-one with you

Having a single individual responsible for your successful implementation is critical. You want an implementation lead who’s totally invested in making the solution work for your organization. 

Having a point of contact who’s familiar with your organization’s scholarship programs keeps the implementation focused and efficient. Equally important, your implementation lead can share insights and ideas on how to improve your scholarship program based on past implementations with other scholarship providers. 

Look for a provider that has a defined implementation process, but also involves your team in customizing how the system is built. By using this approach, you’ll truly feel comfortable in the platform and understand why things work the way they do. 

They have great customer service (and can prove it)

Once the formal implementation process is over, you want to be confident that your vendor isn’t going to disappear. Ask how they transition.  

  • How can you reach someone if you have a question? (Chat, phone, email?)
  • What’s your response time?
  • Do you have any satisfaction guarantees?

But to be totally sure, it’s best to get a neutral point of view. You can start with testimonials on the vendor’s website, but also check out customer reviews from reliable sources like Capterra or ask to speak with some of their current clients.

Look for themes like:

  • They responded (and followed up) quickly.
  • They really listened.
  • They made sure the issue was resolved.
  • They offered great insights.

They have an extensive library of webinars, videos, and articles 

It’s also important to have access to high-quality self-serve resources and ongoing training. After you’ve had the scholarship management system in place for a while, you may need to train new employees, brush up on certain functions, or learn about new features. 

If you see they have an online knowledge base, don’t simply check it off your list. 

  • Open up documents and view some of the videos. 
  • Try searching for a specific problem and see how intuitive it is. 
  • Look at how often the information is updated.

Are the resources helpful? Do they provide visuals? Is the information thorough? 

You want a vendor that invests in continuing education so you can get the most out of your software -- and use it efficiently.

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When making your final decision about scholarship management software, it’s smart to consider the inherent long-term value of a comprehensive implementation process and having a true partner. If you see these five signs from your potential vendor, chances are, you’re in good hands.


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