Trojans are warriors—but even the greatest warrior needs the right tools to be successful. That’s what the Center Grove Community School Corporation, home of the Center Grove Trojans, learned.
As is the case for many districts, tighter budgets and diminishing resources have presented an ongoing challenge for Center Grove’s 1,200 employees, and – in turn – the nearly 8,000 students spread between five elementary schools, two middle schools and the aforementioned high school.
"THERE IS REALLY NO ONE INDIVIDUAL OR AREA OF THE SCHOOL THAT ISN'T TOUCHED OR IMPACTED BY SOMETHING RELATED TO SKYWARD ON A DAILY BASIS."
The Skyward School Business Suite was the tool that Center Grove needed to stay out in front of school district operations. The district has implemented the majority of the Suite’s features, some of which include modules for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Employee Access, Fast Track, General Ledger, Insurance Tracking, Payroll, Position Control, Purchasing, Substitute Tracking and True Time.
Skyward has revolutionized Center Grove's business office. “The School Business Suite is an integral piece of everything we do,” says Devin Arms, Data Integration Manager. “Between that and the student system, there is really no one individual or area of the school that isn’t touched or impacted by something related to Skyward on a daily basis.”
"WE HAVE ELIMINATED THE ENTIRE MANUAL PROCESS...THE BLUE FORM, THE GREEN FORM, THE PINK FORM..."
Arms noted that many of the Center Grove district’s daily processes are now far more efficient with Skyward than they had been using the previous system.
“Each of our buildings and secretaries are able to submit requisitions via the Skyward system. Their requests are automatically routed via the appropriate channels and funneled right up to accounts payable.”
“We have eliminated the entire manual process that used to require countless time-off request forms - the blue form, the green form, the pink form. Now, employees can log into the system, submit their time-off request online, and that information is immediately routed to their supervisors for approval. The information is also then automatically fed into our payroll system. That level of automation has eliminated a number of steps and accelerated the entire process.”
Time and attendance management
Center Grove uses Skyward’s True Time for paperless time and attendance management, a change Arms called “dramatic.” Prior to implementing Skyward, Center Grove tracked employee hours manually using a six-step process:
1. Employees literally “clocked-in” using old punch clocks.
2. Hours were manually recorded in a spreadsheet.
3. The spreadsheet was sent to a supervisor for review.
4. The document went back to the employee for a signature.
5. The sheet was sent through inter-school mail to the payroll department.
6. A payroll department staff member manually input all of the data into the payroll system.
“With Skyward, that entire process has been streamlined,” Arms said. “The time sheets are all digital, the verification and approval alerts are all automatic, and the information is completely integrated with our payroll system. This process has improved on so many levels and reduced the likelihood of errors.”
"JUST ABOUT EVERY APPLICATION WE USE IS FED DATA FROM OUR SKYWARD SYSTEM."
Center Grove saw the easy customization of the Skyward system as a noteworthy benefit. “Oftentimes, we have to respond to a reporting requirement specific to our state or even our district. Skyward has awesome flexibility as far as being able to set up customized fields, screens and forms for those tracking purposes.”
Ease of use
The Skyward system has a common interface across all of the different modules. Arms believes this setup is one of its most significant benefits. “That may seem like a minor or simple thing, but it’s really very important. For example, if we move an employee to a new position, while there will of course be some new training involved, that person will already know how to login to the system, navigate from page to page, set up their preferences and their favorites, etc. For new employees, the system is highly intuitive so they can be up and running quickly. Because of this common interface you can have a much smaller team supporting Skyward.”
Flexibility to integrate with third party applications
Center Grove’s decision to manage the Skyward application in-house meant that flexibility was extremely important. “The flexibility of the Skyward system is critical for us because we often need to set up connections for third-party vendors,” Arms said. “Just about every application we use is fed data from our Skyward system.”
Center Grove has used Skyward as a springboard for change. The district decided to implement a new substitute-finder application, which integrates with Skyward’s online time-off request feature, Employee Access module, and payroll. “Right now our secretaries are responsible for securing substitutes. Once this system is up and running, it will automate the sub placement process and free our secretaries to focus on other priorities. And because it will be fully integrated with Skyward, it will also streamline the entire payroll process.”
In addition, Center Grove completed a provisioning project with one of Skyward’s partners. Now, when a new student is enrolled or a new employee is added to the Skyward system, the system automatically creates the necessary active directory network account, exchange account, and Google account. If an employee leaves, the account in Skyward’s School Business Suite is inactivated and all of their network and email accounts are automatically decommissioned via the provisioning system.
“From an enterprise standpoint, it’s been a huge success for us,” said Arms. “The process of manually figuring out whose account needs to be activated and deactivated as they leave or move from one school to another is a huge undertaking and very time consuming. That entire process is now automated.”
Skyward is continuously evolving its application to meet the changing needs of customers and the market. Arms believes that this continuous development has ongoing implications for Center Grove’s return on investment. “[Skyward is] always looking for ways to make the solution better and to make our lives easier. A lot of times your business application gets the job done, but it’s not on the cutting edge. But Skyward takes the management of your business department to the next level. The level of automation is just so far beyond what some other business applications allow you to do.”
Follow-up resource: School Business Suite
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