As the education sector designs hybrid learning programs to enable students to continue their studies amid the global health crisis, there are vital aspects to managing schools that educators also need to address. Chief among them is how to manage their schools remotely, especially enrollment and many other administrative works.
A startup grantee of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), educational technology startup Edusuite offers a school management system that moves operations to the cloud so schools can manage student information and grading, scheduling, online enrollment, statement of accounts, faculty load, and clearances, among many others.
Established in 2017, the company’s software analyzes data that schools from K-12 to colleges can use in their planning and operations. Utilizing smart algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI), the first in the country, the software helps administrators, faculty, and students optimize their school’s available resources.
“This year, we’ve achieved our target to help over 25,000 students across 10 schools or more. However, because of the COVID-19 situation, many more schools are in need of our solution,” Dagondon said.
Edusuite recently signed up the Sacred Heart Academy in Pasig City, University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, and Joji Ilagan Bian Career Foundation Center in Davao City and General Santos City.
These schools join Edusuite’s partners Ateneo High School, CIIT College of Arts and Technology, Benedictine International School, International British Academy, King’s College of the Philippines, Sumulong College of Arts and Sciences, and Batangas Eastern Colleges.
“The pandemic made us realize our school’s need to go digital,” said Patricia Mauricio, assistant directress for finance of the Sacred Heart Academy of Pasig. “It has been an extraordinarily challenging time for us since we never relied on any management system as we were used to a face-to-face approach.”
Solutions for tedious school processes
“School administration should be frictionless for all stakeholders,” said Niel Dagondon, co-founder and president of Edusuite. “Technologies that automate tasks and cut transaction time are available.”
Using data analytics, Edusuite’s cloud computing solutions enable automatic student advising, online enlistment and enrollment, forecasting of class demand, and automated scheduling and computation of assessments.
The software also allows students to easily pick relevant subjects as real-time availability is reflected on the school’s portal. The automated system also reduces processing time of student registration and payments of school fees.
Using an automated school management system has become more relevant today with government-imposed movement restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. Now that educational institutions encourage hybrid learning, the use of automation becomes essential to school management.
“CIIT has always prioritized efficiency because it allows the school to keep costs within control,” said Sherwin O, president, CIIT College of Arts and Technology. “This directly benefits students in terms of school fees. When a very smart system allocates your classrooms, faculty members, and students in a very efficient manner, it allows the school to utilize all its physical facilities and talent pool. You see and feel the financial impact for the school and our students.”
The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across all sectors, and Edusuite, said Dagondon, is “more than capable to meet the emerging needs of schools for efficient campus administration.”
“While we look forward to going back to what normal used to be like, schools must also transform their systems to respond better to current and future needs,” said Dagondon.
Schools as business partners
Edusuite clients only pay based on the number of students enrolled for the year or semester, a major concern for schools that project much fewer enrollees this year for economic reasons, including students being unable to study remotely.
“Our business is affected by the reduced enrollment in our schools, but we are committed to grow with them so we charge less during hard times,” Dagondon said. “However, we see a silver lining in the current situation with more schools seeking our service after they realize the need to digitalize.”
While schools should always aim to improve their processes and efficiency, Dagondon said Edusuite is one product that will always be beneficial to schools, with or without the pandemic.
“The system captures most of the functionalities that we are looking for in a system— from enrollment to accounting and finance, faculty loading, student clearances and AI-driven scheduling and forecasting,” said Nicole Hao Bian, COO of Joji Ilagan International Schools, which availed themselves of Edusuite’s services in June 2020.
Dagondon sees private educators “leading the charge in adopting technologies to improve education, and this pandemic is the perfect opportunity for them to do so.”
Edusuite first prototyped the solution with CIIT College of Arts and Technology back in 2017. On June 15, 2020, CIIT became one of the first institutions to commence its term through a purely online setting.
The school has fully utilized the enrollment planning system, which helped its administration optimize and manage the enlistment, enrollment, and advising processes. More importantly, CIIT shifted transactions to off-campus online payment channels to make it more convenient for their registrar and key stakeholders.
“We constantly evaluate our product—week after week, release after release—while also taking in recommendations from our clients,” Dagondon said. “Being a naturally agile company, our work is never done as each release makes our product better to accommodate different use cases.”
Edusuite is one of the recipients of the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development’s Startup Grant Program in 2017.
The startup also secured P12 million ($235,000) in funding from seasoned investors from the Manila Angel Investors Network (MAIN). Edusuite’s clients Batangas Eastern Colleges (BEC) and Sumulong College of Arts and Sciences also invested in Edusuite.
Headquartered in Alabang, Edusuite was co-founded by Dagondon (CEO) and Calen Legaspi (CTO). Dagondon, a serial entrepreneur with an exit to his name, was one of those responsible for Anino Games, the first local game development in the country acquired by PlayLab. Legaspi co-founded Orange and Bronze Software Labs, a technology consulting firm.
As Edusuite’s automation enables schools to operate more efficiently even with less staff, the company sees itself working with more schools not only in the country, but also “in other emerging markets that have similar issues as the Philippines.”