What to Expect from Skyward Support in 2017 John Jennings by John Jennings John Jennings Digital Media Manager Read time: As we look ahead to the first year of a new era for the Skyward community, we understand that we have an obligation to communicate our plans, goals, and updates with you. Big things started happening way back in March, when we returned from the best iCon ever only to find that it was time to move into our new world headquarters building. It was the first major milestone in a year filled with them, but we have never lost sight of what it meant for our commitment to creating a better experience for you. Then, with our November announcement of Qmlativ, everything changed. We’ve never been content to sit back and bask in our success, but this was different. This was a completely new product, so unlike anything in existence that it’s almost hard to envision all the ways it can make your life easier. But we know change is never easy. Many of you have questions, and we’re making it a point to answer them as quickly and as honestly as we can. In the interest of transparency, I’ll be penning a series of articles to lay out our plan for the future, starting with our new and improved support model. Support Two years ago, we began to lay the groundwork for a different approach to support. First, we continued to grow and develop our consulting and support team, knowing full well that we will not allow ourselves to expand faster than our ability to deliver on our own high standard of excellent service. We all want to reach new heights, but we want to do it the right way. As of the middle of November, our average response and resolution times for service calls in 2016 have been reduced by 18% and 15%, respectively, compared to last year. More than half of all calls have been completely resolved in less than two hours. These are positive signs, but they pale in comparison to our ultimate vision. We have come to realize that the traditional approach to tech support is flawed. Instead of poring over those age-old metrics of response and resolution, wouldn’t it make more sense to focus our efforts on all the time that comes before you pick up the phone or click the “submit a ticket” button? We believe the best kind of support can be measured in the number of calls that come in, not the efficiency with which they are addressed. In our ideal world, the sample size for these reports would all but disappear. Cue the term “preemptive support.” We have dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to creating more valuable training materials and making it easier for everyone who uses Skyward to find the little piece of information they need to complete the task they are working on. Amazing new resources, such as the Professional Development Center, Help Center (Qmlativ-only), Quick Hits video series, and Family Access Toolkit make it easy for any user in any role to become a master of his or her Skyward universe. Within the Skyward community, we’ve seen a trend toward more centralized internal support models. We expect that trend to continue, as tech departments realize the benefits of keeping a finger on the pulse of staff comfort levels with various aspects of technology. By funneling support calls through a smaller number of experts, districts can more readily identify training opportunities while driving inter-building and interdepartmental consistency. Recent update While the Professional Development Center has been an overwhelming success since its release, we have noticed varying levels of comfort with the adaptation of this new, nontraditional approach to training. In response, we took a long look at the ingredients that typically lead to success and built a step-by-step video guide to managing the PDC for both initial implementation and ongoing development. The central theme is that school and district leadership teams must take a deliberate, strategic approach to this resource to make it work. The return on investment, for both your organizational efficiency and your culture, is worth every minute it takes to do it right. ↪ Check out the new PDC Steps to Success! Looking ahead It’s hard to overstate just how important this self-service model of support is going to be to the future of the Skyward community. If you’re asking yourself why you should make the switch to Qmlativ, the improved training and documentation should not be overlooked. From our new Quest for Success video series to interactive flowcharts and context-sensitive tutorials, we’ve created a world where the software and the support are blended into one consistent experience. The website resources built by our marketing team over the past year (see: Quick Hits, Family Access Toolkit, and ACA Support Portal) mark another challenge for us as we move to a whole new product experience. We’ll be mirroring those efforts for the Qmlativ platform as early as 2017. But don’t worry – the assets that already exist will remain in place as long as necessary to help those districts that aren’t yet ready to make the move. Qmlativ transitions We have no intention of leaving anyone high and dry throughout the transition process. We’ve created multiple outlets for you to get answers: The Skyward Forum. For those of you who are familiar with the Forum, this will be a great way to stay on top of the latest developments. Take a look at the most frequently asked questions and find the answer to high-level questions, such as “Will Qmlativ be featured at iCon?” (Spoiler: Yes.) The Educator Newsletter. We’ll be using this time-tested publication to share development updates in our ongoing “What’s New in Skyward” series. We also intend to spotlight some of the platform-specific differences in key/popular features as we go. Your Account Manager. For district/state-specific inquiries and timelines, you’ll want to speak directly to your account manager. Not sure who that is? No problem. Drop us a line and we’ll make sure the right person gets back to you. As previously mentioned, Qmlativ's training and development tools are an important part of the experience. If you're not sure where to turn for something, feel free to consult this guide to figure out which medium is right for you: That should cover just about everything new and changing on the support side of the house. I’ll be back next month with an inside look at our software development plans. We’re opening up our roadmap like never before, because leading means keeping your eyes on the future, not the competition. Have a question I didn’t address? No problem. Leave a comment below or send me an email. John Jennings Digital Media Manager Share this story: Want tips, tricks, and feature updates delivered to your inbox once a month? Sign up here!