It’s hard to believe in a time when digital solutions are so prevalent, that some school districts are still using paper-based methods to complete their daily operations. For districts that make the leap to an automated environment where payroll is processed online, cumbersome processes become streamlined— freeing up the business office to focus on other district initiatives.
This was the case for Burlington Unified School District (USD) #244 in Kansas. Located approximately two hours northeast of Wichita, Burlington’s business team found themselves drowning in paper processes. Their previous solution wasn’t meeting the district’s needs. Paper time sheets and time off requests flooded the business office each month, multiple spreadsheets were used to track information, and the district’s 250+ employees were calling to inquire about leave, emailing about paychecks, requesting physical copies of paychecks, and more.
This was inevitability too much for the district’s small business office and one payroll clerk to handle, and they knew a switch had to be made. The solution? The district decided to move forward with a modernized ERP solution to achieve their operational goals.
Automated solution revolutionizes operations
Burlington USD #244 selected Skyward’s School Business Suite (SMS 2.0), a feature-rich solution to help streamline their daily operations. According to Tracey Moerer, board clerk and superintendent secretary at Burlington USD #244, switching to Skyward provided relief to their office staff and added accountability for employees. “Our previous provider didn’t have the necessary tools in place for our district to operate in the 21st century,” said Moerer. “Switching to Skyward opened up our eyes to the possibilities we could achieve as a department. Our business office loves the capabilities of the software, and we use the entire system.”
""Our business office loves the capabilities of the software, and we use the entire system.”"
Moerer remembers a time when using their old software would have hindered them in expanding. When the district became the host for a special education cooperative, they added 80+ employees at once, which would have been next to impossible with their old paperbased system. But, Skyward made it easy. Afterall, Burlington USD #244 prides itself on creating lifelong learners, and Skyward is helping the district achieve those goals while leaving paper processes in the past.
Online tools streamline processes
Prior to Skyward, the district kept multiple spreadsheets with employee information such as leave, emergency contact information, hiring information, etc. Today, employees can access personal information such as payroll, W2, and time off with just a few clicks.
“Having a centralized, online solution for district and employee information has been essential to our operations,” said Moerer. “Not only has it freed up our office staff and made reporting easier, but employees feel more empowered being able to take control of their own information.”
District employees can now manage their own leave through the Time Off feature within Skyward. Here employees can request a day off or even view how much time they have left to use, which decreases phone calls to the business/human resources office.
In addition, the district uses True Time (time and attendance) for all employees, reducing the number of paper time sheets to merely a handful.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in savings when it comes to processing payroll,” said Moerer. “Not only do we have the data to process payroll accurately, but we can more confidently track employees’ hours.”
Reporting has also become easier for the district. Reports within the solution are stored in the employee profile or created using data mining reports. These reports can be generated at the touch of a button and pull the most current information from the system—all without having to manually enter data into multiple spreadsheets. Financial and payroll reports are now saved electronically instead of being printed and filed away
"“Reporting within Skyward has saved the business office hours of time. We are no longer manually filing away reports each month, which allows us to focus on other projects in the district,”"
“Reporting within Skyward has saved the business office hours of time. We are no longer manually filing away reports each month, which allows us to focus on other projects in the district,” stated Moerer. “It also saves the district money on printing supplies such as paper and ink, as we are no longer printing those reports out each month.”
Continuous training, support and resources
According to Moerer, the district’s previous vendor didn’t have expansive support and training options compared to what they receive today.
“Prior to Skyward, the only support we had was calling customer service, leading to frustration and wasted time,” said Moerer. “Our district staff couldn’t view webinars or other helpful tools to allow them to be successful at their job.”
Comparing Skyward’s support resources in the form of trainings, videos, online resources, and support available for all staff, Burlington saw a complete turnaround.
“We have been very fortunate to have a partner that offers top notch customer support,” said Moerer.
In addition, their district employees benefit from an annual two-day user conference in Wichita. The user group conference is an opportunity for all Skyward users throughout the state to learn more about their solution and a chance to network with other districts and Skyward leadership.
“I currently serve on our Kansas user group steering committee,” said Moerer. “Having an annual conference is a great aspect of Skywards continued support to their customers. You meet other people whose daily activities are similar to your own. And, you come back to your district better equipped with Skyward knowledge.”
"“Skyward’s Business Suite is the only software system I would ever recommend to other districts,”"
Overall, Skyward’s School Business Suite has saved Burlington USD’s business office countless hours of manual processing, while making the office more efficient and productive. They continue to make strides moving to a paperless environment by incorporating more tools into their daily routine. What’s next for the district? Using custom forms and streamlining their hiring process with Fast Track.
As for advice to others using the product, Moerer recommends getting key personnel involved in the conversation of switching software providers. “The staff who will be using the system on a dayto-day basis are key to a seamless conversion and implementation,” said Moerer. In addition, Moerer also recommends utilizing the training that Skyward offers each customer during the conversation with key personnel and continuing ongoing training after the conversion takes place.
“Skyward’s Business Suite is the only software system I would ever recommend to other districts,” said Moere
Follow-Up Resource: School Business Suite
Empowered employees and increased efficiency are two results you can look forward to with the School Business Suite. Contact us today to learn more.