Business

Sustainability in a Small IT Department

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Grand Prairie Independent School district (GPISD), Grand Prairie’s largest employer, was in decline.

The district used the same software system for over 25 years to manage its student operations and business. The district’s administrators realized that changing its software system was necessary to increase efficiency and better serve students.

“IT WAS PAINFULLY DISCLOSED THAT OUR CURRENT SYSTEM COULD NOT FULFILL OUR NEEDS.

The Challenge

GPISD’s outdated processing system made it difficult for employees to access real-time information. Lyle Dubus (GPISD executive director for instructional delivery) stated that budget reports would be 60-90 days outdated. So, we created our Access database product so that employees could access real-time financial information. “Essentially, we had to work around rather than have it work for us.

Many manual processes, which were time-consuming and tedious without easy access to information, proved difficult. The business office was closed for 60 to 90 days to prepare for the third-party audit. This was due to the lag in its systems, and most information needed to be obtained manually. The IT department also shut down the system at 10 p.m. every night to process data. This made it impossible for anyone to access important information beyond that hour. Dubus stated, “It was painfully obvious that our current system couldn’t accommodate our needs.”

“THE TEXAS BRANCH MANAGER FOR SKYWARD KNEW EVERY ATTENDEE BY THEIR FIRST NAME; IT IS VERY STRONG TO TELL THAT THEY HAD VERY STRONG ELEMENTS.”

The Solution

Dubus and his group began searching for a system already being used in other Texas districts. We didn’t want to be the first to use the system. We needed reliable technology and access to a robust local user network to answer any questions.

District officials also wanted the system to be reliable and flexible and require minimal maintenance. “We have a small IT department. Dubus stated that we knew that our new solution needed to be built on a solid foundation. It had to work right out of the box. “Our current employees are required to be able to concentrate on our core business of educating 26,000 children.

Skyward was familiar with GPISD’s business manager and superintendent, and they added the vendor to their shortlist. Skyward invited GPISD to a Texas user group meeting to learn more about Skyward and speak with Skyward customers. Skyward impressed us greatly. Skyward’s Texas Branch Manager knew every attendee by their first name. It was evident that they had solid relationships and felt like they were part of a close family.

GPISD had a six-month deadline for implementation, which Skyward was sure it could meet. “All other vendors that we considered could not meet our timeline. One vendor claimed it would take 18 months. This was unacceptable to us. Skyward did not blink and assured us they could meet our deadline. It was pretty impressive.

The district ultimately decided to implement Skyward School Business Suite and Skyward Student Management Suite.

“WE EXPECT a 100% RETURN ON OUR INVESTOR WITHIN THREE to FOUR YEARS.” WE ARE CONSIDERABLE THAT WE WILL RECEIVE INSTANT COST SAVINGS IN THE SECOND SCHOOL YEAR.

The Results

Implementation is completed in 4 months.

Dubus stated, “From a conversion and service aspects, we have been delighted at what Skyward brought to the table.” “Skyward’s project leadership has been exceptional. They have been our partners through the whole process and are there to help us with any questions. They are a pleasure to work with – there has never been any hiccup or problem.

You can complete more tasks in-house without having to hire additional staff.

Skyward gives Dubus and his staff complete control over their systems, information, and data. Dubus said, “The amazing thing is that we have moved all our information in-house and updated our systems without adding any additional staff because Skyward runs itself.” “This system will reach every district area, including teachers, custodial staff, and nurses. This system will be available to everyone.

The automation of manual processes has made them obsolete.

Dubus said, “I noticed stacks upon stacks of absence from duty forms being disposed of when I was in the purchasing office last week.” “With our School Business Suite, we have eliminated that form and the manual process. That, to me, is real change… It is certain that our productivity is improving and that resources can be focused on higher priority tasks.” Dubus stated that GPISD used to manage the requisition process manually. This automated process is saving our company 20 hours per week. That is incredible.

Increased visibility and control

Dubus stated that visibility has dramatically improved. “Our control over information has quadrupled within the past 30 days,” Dubus said. It’s a world of difference. We will be able to see the impact of our spending on our decision-making and the success of our programs.

Unforeseen benefits

“Our employees can spend less time on manual tasks and quickly access the information they need, leading to increased job satisfaction. This will allow people to devote their time to more exciting projects or helping children. Dubus stated that this would lead to a decrease in our costs over time.

Ability to prepare reports, comply with state requirements, and increase funding

Dubus stated that accurate reporting is essential for our funding. “Before Skyward, we had to create many reports to meet the requirements. This took us, on average, 8-16 hours per day for one to two working days. The words are already in our system. We can click a button to get them. We are more confident that the information is correct than ever. Skyward has extensive experience in these reporting requirements and is proactive about keeping up with any changes. They provide an update immediately if the conditions change. This relieves us of a lot of pressure and gives us more confidence.

Flexibility – Increased

The district has a flexible school-day alternative for the alternative school, which was causing compliance problems in the old system. Dubus stated that Skyward was informed about the issue, and they responded with, “we already have something prepared and ready for your review” “This showed me how proactive they were and how well they understand our business.”

A partner for the future in a modern district

Dubus stated, “It feels like we have jumped 30+ years into the future. It’s almost like we are doing business in 2009 rather than 1979.” Skyward will allow us to meet all our future needs.

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