The first installment of Tutoring Software Wars introduced and compared two of our competitors — LearnSpeed and Teachworks. Give Part 1 a quick read if you haven’t already before jumping into the next round. In this blog post we take a closer look at Oases Online and Tutorpanel.
Recap: The main contenders
TutorCruncher — That’s us!
LearnSpeed — US-based company founded in 2006 (see Part 1)
Teachworks — Canadian company founded in 2014 (see Part 1)
TutorPanel — Canadian company founded in 2011 by the same people as Teachworks
Oases Online — US company founded in 2003
Who we are
TutorCruncher has provided management software for tutoring companies since 2013. Born out of a tutoring company itself, TutorCruncher is tailored to meet the needs of a modern tutoring business. Halfway through 2015 we released a completely rebuilt and improved version of the system. We never stop adding features and improving TutorCruncher and you can read about our story here.
Why we are writing this
The decision with which software to manage your company could be the make-or-break of your business. Whether you don’t have a system in place and are just starting out, or you are unsatisfied with your current system — you will want to make your choice as informed as possible. This is why we decided to compile and compare information on the four other significant providers of tutoring management software out there. To calculate pricing, we are approaching each system as a first-time user with a fictional company with 25 tutors and 150 active students, averaging 500 lesson hours per month at $40 a lesson. Let the battle resume!
Oases Online was founded in 2003, making it the oldest system in our comparison.
User Experience (Admin)
Unfortunately, we can’t share our first-hand experiences using Oases Online as they don’t provide a free trial. However, online demos can easily be booked. So we did that to find out more about the system. The Oases employee walked us through the system and showed us its more impressive features.
The first impression we got was that it doesn’t feel very modern, probably with few changes made to the interface since 2003.
Without trialling the system ourselves we unfortunately don’t have any way of describing the daily workflow in great detail.
Oases provides a feature that makes tutor-student matching and scheduling quick and efficient, taking into account their location, availability, subjects, etc.
Similar to TutorCruncher, notifications informing tutors about available jobs can be sent out. Tutors can then apply for jobs.
Oases allows tutors to log in, log their sessions and fill out reports. As far as we can tell, there is no equivalent to TutorCruncher’s Jobs — Lessons distinction. Session details are abundant with information on test results and progress for each individual student.
On Oases’ website there is not much to be found about the invoicing process — especially on the degree of automation. Just as in TutorCruncher, clients can be charged in advance and in arrears. Invoices provide all the necessary information but look basic and like we’re being invoiced straight from the 90s.
What Stripe is to TutorCruncher, Authorize.net is to Oases — an integrated online card payment gateway. Once again, without trialing the system, we can’t tell you about how well the integration of Authorize.net is implemented in Oases. What we can tell you for sure is that Authorize.net is more expensive and more complicated to set up than Stripe.
Stripe fees for TutorCruncher are currently 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (1.4% + 20p in the UK) — and that’s it. Whereas Authorize.net charges $49 for setup, $25 monthly gateway, and 2.9% + $0.30. For international transactions they charge an additional 1.5%.
Payroll is done using several different roles and pay groups. Payment order PDFs are not available, which our clients find essential for a modern tutoring company working with independent contractors.
Oases provides customisable analytics that seem to have missed the design evolution train. You can run a wide range of reporting, which is great, but its presentation leaves a lot to be desired.
User Experience (Tutor)
Tutors can log into the system to log their hours, and access the extensive online testing and reporting system. The system caters to tutoring centres and agencies focusing on preparation for standardised tests.
As we’ve been told during our demo, there is an Oases Online app available (but only for IOS and we couldn’t find it online). Its main purpose is supposedly to provide tutors with a platform to log their lessons and access their schedules.
Judging by the tutor-student matching process, tutors are able to fill in their teaching skills, qualifications, and availability in great detail.
User Experience (Client)
We did find a login page for clients but no information was provided on what a client can view or do in their account.
Once again, without a free trial and a website that keeps information about the system on the down low we can’t tell you much about the customisation available in Oases Online. Judging by the invoice example (see above) you can customise PDFs with company logo and name.
According to reviews of Oases the level of available customisation seems to be dependent on your account level with Oases. In TutorCruncher all features are available to all clients — regardless of pricing tier.
Features worth mentioning
Oases Online is designed with tutoring centres and the US education system in mind. They offer an extensive learning and reporting system based on standardised tests like ACT and SAT. Practice test results feed into analytics and progress reports for each students.
For most pages customisable Excel exports are available.
Unlike TutorCruncher, Oases doesn’t currently allow clients to browse tutor profiles and choose tutors themselves. They provide “WebForms” which can be used on your website for tutor application and customer enrollment. TutorCruncher Socket does a similar thing but in addition allows you to display tutor profiles on your website which improves SEO, facilitates client conversion, and helps your clients find their ideal tutor.
Booking a demo with Oases is easy and can be done online. According to reviews support is good and readily available. Initial setup of your company account by Oases and user training appears to be necessary to use the system. Help sites, tutorial videos, and user manuals are available after signup.
Oases’ pricing is tied to the number of active students you manage with the system. The cheapest tier is 25 students at a monthly fee of $99. TutorCruncher doesn’t determine your pricing tier after the amount of students/tutors/clients/sent emails you manage in your TutorCruncher account. You decide which pricing tier you’d like to be on.
With our fictional company with 150 students Oases would charge us $299 a month. If you are taking payment with Authorize.net you’d have to calculate another $25/month + 2.9% + $0.30.
With TutorCruncher’s pricing tier Start-up you would end up with a bill of $50 + 0.5% payment fees = $150 (plus Stripe fees of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction) which is just half of the Oases bill you’d receive. In addition, you TutorCruncher bill is always on the amount of payments you put through the system. This means that in the quieter months your bill will be significantly smaller and you won’t have to get your head around what constitutes an ‘active’ or ‘inactive’ student.
Oases Online is principally designed as a management system for US tutoring centres that prepare students in group lessons for standardised tests. For such a company Oases provides effective testing, reporting, and analytics tools.
If you wanted to start using Oases to run your business, it seems that you need to have it set up and configured by Oases as it is too complicated and intricate to trust users to start using the system without a really steep learning curve.
For companies who do individual tutoring or consulting Oases provides the wrong functionality wrapped in an outdated and complicated user interface. For smaller or new companies the ratio of steep pricing tied to the number of students and value they would get out of the system is a deterrent and may even hinder growth.
TutorPanel is a Canadian company founded in 2011.
User Experience (Admin)
Unlike Oases, TutorPanel offers a three week free trial of their system. The first impressions we got when logging in for the first time were reasonable. There are some basic instructions on how to get started in the system. These instructions don’t really tell us anything about how the system works though, just to set up some users. The UI is a bit outdated but clear and simple.
The first instruction is to set up a “Price List”. This is a charge rate that will later be used when creating a lesson.
Skills and subjects taught have to be manually typed out in a text field on a teacher’s profile. (Our expectations for tutor-student matching have just taken a hard hit …)
Students can be created as “Child Student” or “Adult Student”. The former requires the creation of an associated parent as paying client, the latter receive their own invoice. A student’s billing method (per session, flat fee, pre-paid package) has to be set on their profile.
When scheduling a lesson you have to have the charge rate pre-set up in “Tutoring Prices” (which is curiously located in the tab “Calendar”). These fixed rates also don’t allow for individual charge rates on group lessons.
As there is no search or filter function at all and a tutor’s skills and availability are information in a text box, you will have to know all your tutors very well to match them to a student. This is fine when you work with a handful of tutors, but any more than that and this becomes a hindrance to your workflow. It is not possible to schedule a lesson from a user’s profile; it has to be done in Calendar > Add Events > Add Lesson.
Alas, creating a lesson in TutorPanel is quite the journey considering it’s supposed to be one of the main functions of a tutoring management software …
By default, only “reconciled” (“completed lessons” in TutorCruncher jargon) are invoiceable. Reconciling lessons can be done on the calendar or in batch. In batch reconciliation tutor and total charge rate can be adjusted manually but only once the lessons have happened.
Invoices can be generated manually or on a schedule. An automatic schedule generates invoices according to the schedules settings.
Manual invoice generation works fairly well with several options of what will be included in the invoice. Invoices take into account pre-paid packages and other credit. They are sent in a tedious process by going into each individual invoice and clicking “Send Invoice”.
The invoice is sufficient and customisable with a logo.
There are several options on an invoice after generating it and because they are not responsive to each other they could cause severe problems.
An invoice can be marked as paid before sending it to the client.
It can be marked as paid without recording payment.
Voiding and marking as paid can be un-done.
It can be marked as unpaid after payment was recorded.
It can be deleted after payment is recorded (!).
These options leave a lot of room for errors in reconciling the accounting — especially because invoices can be deleted. And since TutorPanel doesn’t record activity it might become impossible to track down where something went wrong.
Teacher’s payroll was quite difficult to execute. You will have to take a look at a teacher’s hours and remember how much you are due to pay them. Then you go into “Record Payments” and enter that amount. There is no automation at all — which leaves even more room for error.
User Experience (Tutor & Client)
To experience TutorPanel from the point of view of a tutor or a client we had to enter our admin email address in tutor and client profiles.
Tutors can edit their profile, create tasks and lessons, reconcile lessons, and get an overview of their hours and received payments.
Clients can view and edit their account information, access accounting, lesson, and scheduling information. If enabled, clients can request lessons from their account. There is no way for clients to browse tutor profiles before they request a lesson with a tutor. TutorCruncher makes this possible with TutorCruncher Socket.
What teachers and clients can view, edit, and do from their accounts is subject to the permissions set by the admin. There is no way of having tutors or clients apply with your company or sign up for an account, meaning everything has to be initiated by an administrator.
Custom fields are available, but only on students’ profiles
A company logo can be uploaded but only with the very awkward dimension of 35px by 350px
The content of automated notifications can be customised
Features worth mentioning
Basic CSV Quickbooks export
Automated invoicing schedule
There are moderately useful help pages and tutorial videos available. TutorPanel can be contacted by email.
TutorPanel charges a monthly base fee of $22 + $0.50 per student. Online card payment is done through PayPal with fees of 2.9% + $0.30 per payment. Our fictional company with its 150 students would receive a monthly bill of $97 compared to TutorCruncher’s $150.
However, it would be impossible to run a company of this scale with TutorPanel. So if we adjust our parameters to something more likely to be managed by TutorPanel, e.g. 30 students, 6 tutors, 75 lessons a month at $40, the results are as follows: TutorPanel’s bill would be $37, while TutorCruncher’s would be $36 but including all our superior functionality.
Tutor-student matching becomes impossible if you can’t count your tutors on one hand as there is no filter or search function.
Billing and payroll is tedious and leaves gaping room for mistakes.
TutorPanel is not scalable and would soon act as a bottleneck.
TutorPanel’s pricing might be cheaper for bigger companies in comparison to TutorCruncher’s but TutorPanel does in no way, shape or form provide the functionality required for efficient management. If you are not keen on accurate and reliable accounting you might be able to manage a small tutoring company which employs not more than 4 or 5 tutors with TutorPanel (at the same cost as TutorCruncher).
Thank you for taking the time to read tutoring software wars. We hope we have given you a good overview of a few tutoring management software platforms out there. If we’ve stoked your interest in TutorCruncher then check out our website, get in touch, and/or sign up for a free trial.
We grow tutoring companies for a living and yours could be next.