ICT tool for managing accreditation and compliance

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Epaathsala was formed to provide the higher education institutions in India a structured project management and ICT tool to manage their compliances at a very affordable cost. Suman Nandy, Founder, Epaathsala speaks about the plans to expand rapidly through the channel partner network

Epaathsala was started by Suman Nandy and Prabol Bhandari. Working at Ernst & Young in USA in accreditation and compliance for corporates and other institutions, both have a wealth of experience in managing accreditation process and compliances using ICT tools and structured project management. During a visit to India, Nandy identified that educational institutions here lack a proper tool and structured project management to manage their accreditation and compliance. “Accreditation is mandatory, and with the lack of a dedicated accreditation management team, the institutions depend on individual consultants and the entire process is managed completely manually,” says Nandy, adding that ICT has been made mandatory as part of various affiliation and accreditations. Moreover, accreditation is also being mandated by the governing agencies. Accreditation also helps all institutions to provide quality teaching learning as per international standards to all students.

The first major milestone was achieved back in 2014 when one institution prepared the accreditation report completely using this software. Nandy mentions that soon many such instances followed and Epaathsala started working with other premier institutions in the country. The company started its first international expansion in 2017 when a pilot software was implemented in an institution in Australia. An entirely new version of the software was created with the help of international partners from USA and Europe for the international market. Global plans include expanding footprint in the Australian market in the coming months.

Epaathsala was formed to provide the higher education institutions in India a structured project management and ICT tool to manage their compliances at a very affordable cost. It is available both as an open source as well as a cloud based software. Nandy points out that Epaathsala also contains the supporting ICT software required. The traditional ERPs available in India do not cater to the requirement completely. “For example, every ERP would probably have an option for student feedback but hardly any ERP would have an option for 360 degree feedback. Similarly, PO-CO attainment calculation linked to assessment, online MCQ, Assignment and other direct and indirect assessment methodologies makes it very easy for the faculties to implement a robust attainment monitoring system, introduce timely intervention and ultimately ensure that the quality attainment is achieved by the students by the end of their program,” he explains.

Further, Epaathsala has also recently introduced an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) based Learning Management System where the system can proactively identify the students who would need academic and other support and helps the faculties to provide timely intervention to the students for the same. Regarding future plans, Nandy reveals that Epaathsala will continue to invest on AI and ML based technologies to provide a single platform for accreditation management and Learning Management for higher education institutions.

Channel partner network
Epaathsala has been partnering with the traditional providers of ERP, payment gateways and other services to help its growth. Epaathsala has been running a pilot program through channel partner network in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala and it has been successful. Epaathsala aims to expand its network rapidly through channel partner network in India. Nandy affirms that the channel partner network would play a key role in its expansion in foreign market. Epaathsala has already identified few potential partners for the international markets who would help with the expansion.

“Although there are quite a lot of inherent challenges in channel partner network, the benefits of channel marketing strategy for a rapid growth cannot be underestimated. The channel partner network has the required reach and trust level with the potential customers which a tech startup would lack, and thereby reaching out to the potential clients through a channel partner network helps in rapid growth. Moreover, the channel partner network also often helps to reduce opex,” says Nandy, reminding that cash flow is usually a problem for most of the tech startups, and by effectively utilising the channel partner network, the tech startups do not need to invest on building a marketing team and also managing the associated compliances for having employees on board.