Plum City School District improves overall technology experience by switching to Skyward
Managing and maintaining multiple software systems, coupled with using an outdated, difficult-to-use SIS, can be challenging for any district technology department, let alone a one-person team.
For Plum City School District, located 40 miles southwest of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and 65 miles east of the Twin Cities, finding a system that could easily integrate with other software tools was essential to future success.
John Pimental, technology director at Plum City School District, credits Skyward for improving their district’s technology initiatives.
"We made the switch to Skyward’s Qmlativ Education Management System because I wanted to consolidate our student and business databases and integrate all the various products that we use"
Third-Party Integration Made Easy
One challenge many districts face today is maintaining multiple databases, which requires time, money, and staff. As more solutions and classroom tools become available for schools, leaders want a centralized system that can integrate with existing entities they already have in place. For Plum City School District, making the change to a more feature-rich SIS that had a single sign-on and less upkeep was crucial.
“We made the switch to Skyward’s Qmlativ Education Management System because I wanted to consolidate our student and business databases and integrate all the various products that we use,” said Pimental. “With all the disparate third-party software vendors that we have, touching every account on every platform is honestly my worst nightmare, which was the unfortunate reality when we had our previous software,” he added.
Now, using Qmlativ, changes to accounts can be made across the board. This is a major timesaver for Plum City School District.
“I can just set up data exports to a third-party vendor and never worry about accounts again – Skyward staff were very helpful with setting this up as well,” said Pimental.
In addition to finding a solution that combined databases and integrated third-party software, Plum City leaders wanted a future-ready system with built-in, feature-rich tools.
One such example is Skylert, a notification system that sends messages to parents and guardians. With Skylert, the district can send important messages to their school community directly from their Qmlativ SIS platform, while also reaping benefits in other areas.
“Our attendance and food service balances have drastically improved by implementing Skylert,” said Pimental. “Our old notification system didn’t tie directly into our student database at all, but with Skyward we have the capability to configure it so parents can get calls when their students are absent or if their food service balances are low. Parents really appreciate the calls and being in the know,” he continued.
In addition, reporting across the district has improved. Having a built-in report writer allows the district to generate customized reports and enables staff to confidently and easily find the data they need to share, since it’s pulling directly from Skyward.
“The reporting feature is one of my favorite things about Skyward,” said Pimental. ”State reporting was a nightmare and had to be sent individually per student or grade level as there was no ‘mass send’ functionality to send all the student data to the Department of Public Instruction.”
Finally, the e-commerce functionally within Qmlativ has streamlined processes for the district. Business office staff can purchase directly from online vendors within the platform, which then automatically generates a purchase order.
“This especially comes in hand at the beginning of the year when personnel order most of their supplies for the district, thus drastically decreasing the amount of time required for office staff to manage orders,” Pimental commented.
"The reporting feature is one of my favorite things about Skyward"
When looking for a new SIS/ERP solution, Skyward’s Qmlativ user interface is what set it apart from other systems. The intuitive design, complete with logical navigation, simple shortcuts, and a clean and customizable dashboard were some of the details that stood out to Plum City School District.
“The user interface is so much better than what we had,” said Pimental. “We had to do minimal training for our staff because of how intuitive it is. Our regular users and power users like Qmlativ so much more than our previous software as well,” he added.
Qmlativ’s personalization and customization features were of particular interest to Plum City School District. To ensure a positive user experience for staff, Pimental took it upon himself to create a teaching guide that lays out how employees can customize their Qmlativ dashboard. By making the software their own, Plum City School District increased user buy-in among staff.
“The staff really like the interface because they can quickly and easily get to where they need to go with just a single click,” said Pimental.
"Our previous SIS vendor didn’t allow us to impersonate users, which made it harder to support our staff as I (or our vendor) couldn’t see what they were seeing without scheduling a remote session when we are all available"
Less Frustration with Troubleshooting
Prior to Skyward, Plum City struggled with solving problems on their own. Support reps at their previous vendor were unable to view what the end user was seeing, which caused confusion and misunderstandings. Qmlativ’s impersonation feature eliminates these issues entirely, giving the person fixing the problem a view of what the end user is seeing, without the need for scheduling a remote session that works with all parties.
“Our previous SIS vendor didn’t allow us to impersonate users, which made it harder to support our staff as I (or our vendor) couldn’t see what they were seeing without scheduling a remote session when we are all available,” said Pimental.
Now, Pimental can breathe a sigh of relief by setting up impersonations, which frees up his time for other tasks. By giving other staff with product expertise the ability to help solve problems, calls to the IT help desk have decreased, and issues get resolved more quickly.
Overall, Plum City School District’s experience with Qmlativ has been wonderful, according to Pimental.
“The best part of Skyward has got to be the technical assistance and training,” said Pimental. “There is always someone available to help you and share valuable insight on how to be as efficient as possible.”
Looking toward the future, Plum City School District is excited about integrating Qmlativ even further by adding the G Suite. With this addition, the district will be able to automatically create and deactivate Google email accounts.
For districts considering the move to Qmlativ, Pimental suggests migrating all of the previous years’ data so they don’t have to maintain two systems. Fixing all data programming interface (DPI) errors will also help make the switch smoother.
Plum City School District’s appreciation of Skyward’s Qmlativ system can be summed up in two words, “Skyward rocks!”