Written by Debbie Karcher
In the last article, the funding pipeline for systems were discussed. As mentioned, systems are often implemented without the full support of the district and without fully understanding the impact of a new system to the district, the Information Technology Department, and the overall budget. Because of ongoing district budget constraints, this practice is not going away.
However, this does not mean that districts should not have a strategy for replacing or retiring legacy systems. They are expensive to maintain and will eventually go out of support and/or the expertise to maintain them is lost to retirement or other organizations. Instead this article discusses the types of ERP systems in the K12 sector, critical systems needed prior to implementing an ERP system, reasons for keeping older systems, and near-term improvements that can be made to existing systems to extend their use while developing a long-term implementation and resource plan for the districts’ systems.
First, to understand school information technology systems one needs to understand that school districts have several sub industries that need to be supported by unique systems. There are three core ERP systems and many ancillary systems in school districts. The first is ERP for your business operations that include human capital, finance, time and attendance, payroll, and purchasing. The second is the Student Information System (SIS) that manage core student data including demographics, grading, scheduling, attendance and transcripts. The third, which is usually owned and managed by the academic unit, are the Learning Management Systems that maintain, report, and deliver education systems and several ancillary systems such as Food Service Management, Transportation Management, and Facilities Management. Adding to the lack of clarity, some School Administration Software can include many of the above components mentioned in one product.
Implementing each of the above systems individually can be risky and any search will provide numerous examples of failed ERP projects in all business sectors; no business is safe from failure. School districts are especially at risk because of limited resources and competing priorities.
Outlined below are some recommendations that should be considered even before adding system replacement to a district’s strategic plan:
The decision determined at the end of this exercise may still result in either a need for a system replacement or a re-prioritization of the systems replacement. There is a chance that you will need to upgrade your Human Capital Systems particularly if your Student Information System is out of support and no longer providing the capability needed for today’s mobile workforce. Going through this process will result in the identification of system requirements and new requirements, elimination of enhancements that were once important but are no longer needed, and the start of a business case to persuade leadership to prioritize systems replacement.
Unsure of the next steps? Worldgate has the expertise and K12 business experience to assist you and your District to identify the current state and requirements needed to reach your future vision.