In this, the digital century, some districts are still playing catch-up when it comes to implementing new technologies and leaving the paper and pen method behind. A switch to a paper-free environment, where employees have access to their personal and professional information, allows staff to become more accountable and independent – freeing up human resources and front office personnel to focus on other initiatives.
Menasha Joint School District (MJSD), located in eastern Wisconsin, is proving that it’s never too late to empower employees and take steps to eliminate unnecessary paper forms.
MJSD began its transition to a more paperless environment by using an online software suite, but was disappointed with the limited features available. After considering viable options, administrators chose to move forward with an ERP solution that would improve their practices and help them achieve their business management goals.
The district selected its new feature-rich solution: Skyward’s School Business Suite. Administrators immediately took advantage of the suite’s Employee Access application to empower employees by giving them access to their own information and much more.
“Some of the challenges we faced prior were having to use paper for a lot of processes, like changing an employee’s withholding status or address,” explained Brian Adesso, director of business services at MJSD.
He described how processes such as expense reimbursements for staff could now be entered and completed online through Skyward’s Employee Access feature. Adesso admitted it was initially difficult to get all employees on board.
“Like anything, it was challenging, but I had a great team – we were ready for a change,” Adesso said. “The whole process went pretty smoothly... Skyward really scheduled everything well during the implementation, and working with the programmers was great during the conversion processes.”
"'Skyward is the type of company that actually listens to their customers and develops around that feedback, which is very important.' – Brian Adesso, Director of Business Services"
Adesso’s previous knowledge of Skyward’s ERP solution was helpful during MJSD’s transition. He was able to focus on adapting the solution to best meet the district’s needs and vision.
Since completing the transition to Skyward’s School Business Suite, MJSD has been able to streamline many of its business management processes and allow employees to take on more responsibility through the use of self-service tools in Employee Access. Administrators have witnessed an increase in transparency and communication within the district community, primarily among staff members.
“Employee Access has really helped with the whole collection of employee information, and it’s really helped with staff-related processes,” Adesso explained.
He added that the district uses the application’s online forms feature to collect information and complete employment paperwork for educators. Staff members also have access to important employment information right at their fingertips.
“It’s much easier for employees to see what they are paid, for example,” Adesso said. “The check estimator is a nice hidden gem as well – I think it’s a huge advantage.”
“I think Employee Access helps a ton with employee accountability,” Adesso added. “They can see what they filled out in their custom forms, and they always have that record there. They can also see when their licenses are expiring, and paycheck deductions and benefits.”
He said the application helps staff members “get a good feel” of all the information the district has on file. It also makes it easy for employees to ensure that their personal information, like addresses and phone numbers, is up to date.
MJSD has increased business office efficiencies through the use of the suite’s tools. “The task manager is really process-driven, which helps staff with getting tasks done more efficiently,” Adesso said.
Future plans include simplifying additional procedures and decreasing paper-based practices. “Employee Access and Skyward’s School Business Suite really streamlined whole processes,” Adesso explained.
"I think Employee Access helps a ton with employee accountability."
Administrators have received positive feedback from staff using Employee Access, according to Adesso. “They see it as very simple for them to use – it’s pretty intuitive, and I think they feel comfortable using it,” he explained. “We don’t get a lot of questions on ‘how do I do this’ or ‘how do I do that’ – they can easily log in, and with the options for them to choose from, the system is not overwhelming.”
To ensure that staff members are kept up to date and get the most out of their online tools, the district holds training sessions before the first day of school and additional trainings throughout the school year.
“We engage staff and get them in the system for training a few times a year – we even have an online form in Employee Access for that,” Adesso said.
MJSD has plans to expand its use of the online solution by going paperless with additional forms required each school year. “Next year we are doing contracts through employee letters, within Employee Access,” Adesso said.
“I think we’re continually improving and will continue to save time as we push the suite further and further,” he added. “I believe we’ll be saving a tremendous amount of time.”
While Skyward’s Employee Access has been a helpful tool in working toward MJSD’s goals for a paperless business office and more engaged staff, Adesso has been equally impressed with Skyward’s product development team.
"Skyward is the type of company that actually listens to their customers and develops around that feedback."
“I would recommend Skyward,” he said. “It’s a mature product that’s ever-evolving. Skyward is the type of company that actually listens to their customers and develops around that feedback, which is very important. I think the overall business suite is very easy and intuitive for a new employee using it – just a great overall package.”
Menasha Joint School District has been happy with its decision to select an ERP solution that includes an online self-service tool for employees. Administrators are also happy with their return on investment and look forward to continuing their partnership with Skyward in the years to come.
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