In early 2013, Oak Hill United School Corporation was looking for its next student information system. After proceeding through a few months of demonstrations and discussions with vendors, the corporation chose a competing firm that administrators believed would suit Oak Hill’s needs.
But the story doesn’t end here.
Oak Hill, located about 70 miles north of Indianapolis in Converse, Indiana, was having issues with the installation and implementation of its newly selected system. The school corporation’s technology team soon found, through several conversations, that area schools were having some of the same problems. It became clear that the new provider presented fundamental issues when it came to employing its SIS software.
A significant challenge for Oak Hill teachers was not being able to input data into the system’s grade book – a necessity for any school. Soon enough Oak Hill administrators began pursuing a provider the corporation had considered in its initial search. After revisiting this option and discussing it further, officials selected a technology partner that would provide a smooth implementation of its SIS solution and was known to exceed expectations.
Brandt Lynch, technology coordinator at Oak Hill, described why the corporation needed to make a second switch to the new SIS. “We needed to modernize a number of our workflows and make better use of current generation features,” he said.
“We had an implementation of another product that went so poorly, the software never recovered in our organization,” Lynch explained. “The core users of the product use this software all day every day, and if the product doesn't meet their needs, they have a bad day – or year.”
“We reached a point where waiting for fixes and updates wasn't happening in a manner that was going to turn our first rollout around, so making the switch to Skyward was the best choice we have made,” Lynch added. “The structure and series of checks and balances that Skyward implements as part of their standard rollout package is second to none.”
"THE SKYWARD ROLLOUT WAS HEAD AND SHOULDERS OVER OTHER ROLLOUTS OF COMPETING PRODUCTS WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED HERE."
In the spring of 2014, Oak Hill selected Skyward’s Student Management Suite, almost a year to the date after making its previous SIS choice. Implementation began and brought results aligned with what the corporation had sought in its first attempt – and more.
Lynch said Skyward’s implementation process was much improved compared to past experiences, and the corporation’s key users agreed. “The Skyward rollout was head and shoulders over other rollouts of competing products we have implemented here,” he said. “The quality of Skyward's product and support has been making our core users happy ever since.”
The transition has already had a positive impact on day-to-day functions at Oak Hill.
“In our transition to Skyward, we are able to use workflows that we didn’t even know we were lacking before the product – period attendance, attendance auto dialing with School Messenger, separate logins for students and parents in Family Access – the list goes on and on,” Lynch said.
In addition to daily processes, state reporting was also a crucial task greatly improved through adopting the new SIS.
“We have seen an amazing transformation in our state reporting,” Lynch said. “Skyward is able to give us the data we need in the format we need it, and if something needs to be updated they change it. Our process for completing state reports has changed 180 degrees.”
"OAK HILL USC IS A MORE ATTRACTIVE PLACE TO WORK FOR PEOPLE IN THEIR FIELD BECAUSE WE HAVE THE TOOL IN PLACE THEY WANT TO USE."
Lynch added that Oak Hill has saved time in a number of areas due to the transition. “We save in labor all over the place – online registration versus paper, state reporting time, attendance tracking, high school student schedule changes, and more.”
He has received a number of positive comments from school staff members who are content with the new solution. Because of this feedback, Lynch also sees benefits in employee recruitment and retention, all as a result of implementing the SIS.
“Our core users – secretaries, teachers, guidance counselors – have nothing but great things to say about Skyward,” he said. “Oak Hill USC is a more attractive place to work for people in their field because we have the tool in place they want to use.”
After an unexpected twofold selection process, Oak Hill chose the SIS solution its administrators and stakeholders could count on to provide a steady partnership and return on investment.
“We would absolutely recommend the product to our colleagues here in Indiana,” Lynch said. “It is reliable, dependable, full-featured, and the core users love it and are able to pick it up easily. It's everything you want out of your student management system to help your school run efficiently and smoothly.”
Follow-up resource: Student Management Suite
To learn more about what a better SIS experience could look like in your district, check out the Student Management Suite.