What key ingredients go into making a software that people enjoy using?
Talented developers, an intuitive design, and strong support options are all at the top of the list. However, software built with direct input from actual users is often what elevates good software to great.
"Several features in Qmlativ made me very excited to move our district to the system as soon as possible."
Troy Community Consolidated School District 30-C
, located southwest of Chicago, knows the importance of software centered on the ideas of customers who use the product every day. As a partner since 2014, the district is currently transitioning to Skyward’s Qmlativ Education Management Suite
while providing valuable insights about their daily tasks and how Skyward can improve Qmlativ for school districts everywhere. The result has been a collaborative partnership filled with brainstorming, new enhancements, and a more user-centered experience.
"User feedback has ranked near the top in terms of importance for our district."
Before moving to Skyward, Troy CCSD 30C often didn’t have the time or resources necessary to provide product ideas. In fact, as the district implemented Skyward’s SMS 2.0 solution in 2014, it faced a major leadership shift. Troy CCSD 30C’s superintendent and director of operations resigned, leaving the district uncertain during a key implementation phase. Fortunately, the district took advantage of the leadership change by using it as an opportunity to evaluate the best strategy for its technology.
“After the resignation of our superintendent and director of operations, I was given the role as the district’s director of information services,” explained Liz Boyles. “With my new role, I quickly took the lead on our Skyward needs and helped ensure we had a smooth implementation.” Four years after implementation, Boyles is now helping the district stay aggressive in its pursuit of better technology experiences by looking to move to Skyward’s next generation of school management software, Qmlativ.
“Several features in Qmlativ made me very excited to move our district to the system as soon as possible. We found a few opportunities to enhance the product to fit our needs and make it a one-stop shop for our community,” explained Boyles. “Still, we carefully prepared and evaluated the right time to switch, because moving to new technology won’t provide the best experience unless it comes with a plan.”
Moving to Qmlativ
Troy CCSD 30C is still in the very early stages of implementing Qmlativ, however, staff currently have a live database to test processes. So far, the results have left the district excited about what the future holds.
“Once we are fully implemented, I’m really looking forward to Qmlativ’s streamlined processes, customizable dashboard, and live tiles,” stated Boyles.
While Qmlativ’s intuitive design and advanced features will be welcome enhancements to the district’s daily processes, Boyles predicts another added benefit—increased district engagement.
“Right now, many of our administrators use SMS 2.0 pretty minimally depending on their position, but I think Qmlativ’s interface and personalized layout will motivate more of our staff to log into the system daily to see live updates, test scores, nurse visits, and discipline.”
"I believe users, including myself, feel Skyward is genuinely invested and interested in our thoughts about product enhancements."
Partnering for a Better Experience
As Troy CCSD 30C prepares for the move to Qmlativ, Boyles identified a unique opportunity. By providing Skyward’s user-experience (UX) team with insights about the district’s existing processes, Skyward could improve Qmlativ features tailored to Troy CCSD 30C’s methods and enhance the overall experience of other districts using the same solutions.
has ranked near the top in terms of importance for our district. I believe users, including myself, feel Skyward is genuinely invested and interested in our thoughts about product enhancements,” explained Boyles. “To be efficient, we need to work smarter. It is more than sharing our experiences, it’s also about collaborating with districts to improve education for the better.”
In a short amount of time, the district has already contributed to the improvement of attendance letters, applicant tracking, data mining, and office visits. Most recently, the district worked with Skyward’s UX team to refine Qmlativ’s discipline feature.
“During a research and development session at Illinois User Group, Liz and several customers got hands-on with Qmlativ. She provided great input about areas of the interface that needed clarified labeling,” explained Jill Murray, Skyward’s UX team manager. “Liz’s feedback has enhanced Qmlativ’s usability, especially regarding discipline letters. It’s exciting to see how one district’s feedback can help countless others.”
For Boyles and Troy CCSD 30C, providing feedback for solutions such as discipline is just another way of improving the overall education experience.
“Schools want to build a partnership with parents and communication is one of the most important factors in achieving that,” explained Boyles. “This is especially important regarding discipline because it can be an obstacle in the learning process. Keeping parents informed gives them the tools to encourage appropriate behavior in school and keep the lines of communication open between school and home.”
The future between Troy CCSD 30C and Qmlativ is bright. The more district personnel discover and adjust to certain features, the more opportunities they’ll have to enhance and validate new product ideas in future years.
“Education leaders like Liz have been instrumental in ensuring we continue to build solid solutions—these collaborations are at the heart of Skyward’s product development lifecycle,” explained Murray. “Gathering user feedback is an incredibly valuable phase of our development process. We have the best customers and we can’t thank them enough for helping us provide a great experience.”
Other districts hoping to make a similar impact with their feedback now have a more accessible way to amplify their suggestions as well thanks to Skyward’s Product Ideas Portal
. Within the solution, districts can propose, review, and vote on ideas they’d like added to Skyward solutions. According to Boyles, it might be the most beneficial feature districts new to Qmlativ can use.
“Skyward has given our district a voice. It has given us an opportunity to express our procedures and practices with the hopes of integrating the processes we use into Skyward’s product in a streamlined, easy-to-use module,” stated Boyles.