Guest Post: Our Skyward Refresh Guest Post: Our Skyward Refresh

Guest Post: Our Skyward Refresh

by Barrington CUSD 220
Barrington CUSD 220 Barrington CUSD 220 Empowered Skyward District
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We didn’t know what we didn’t know.
Since we began using Skyward in 2008, so much has changed in our district and in technology. We wanted to make sure we were getting the most from Skyward, but we needed some help. Sure, we knew generally what we needed, but what we really needed was for someone from Skyward to come and tell us specifically what functionality could help us get there.
We reached out to our account manager and he told us about Skyward’s Empowerment Program. With this service, a consulting and support specialist would come to our district, evaluate our processes, and show us ways we could improve. The beauty of the Empowerment Program is that it’s hands-on training for staff in their own environment. We wanted someone to help us find the best workflows for our district, not just give us general documentation.


Meeting Our Consultant 

About 6 to 8 weeks after we contacted our account manager, we met our consultant, Andy. Skyward does a good job understanding that if you need someone, you probably need them now. Andy was here for a few days and he was fabulous! We did a lot of one-on-ones. We had him meet each staff member in the business and HR department. He would go over their day-to-day routines and talk to them about both what they use Skyward for and what they use other systems for. He was very patient and really listened to everyone with an open mind, especially when it came to features we didn’t know about.
Our staff members were really excited to meet with Andy. Andy did a great job keeping everything positive. Everyone on our team is beginning to see the ripple effects automating workflows can have throughout the district.
After Andy left, he put together a consulting report. It’s a 30-page document describing everything he found while reviewing our database and while on site. He talked about what we did and listed his recommendations. It was nice to have a list of everything in one place. It can be overwhelming to choose what to fix first, but this report gave us a way to navigate through these changes.


Implementing Our Findings 

The changes we’ve made have impacted our whole system and made us more efficient. We learned how we could clean up our coding process for buildings and pay codes. There was a lot of room for improvement there—Andy had never seen so many codes!
We’re very proud of our business office staff who are down to two cabinets of paper. We’ve already seen some significant changes in our payroll department. They can produce things much more efficiently now, which has impacted the data they have available and allows for more accurate forecasting. 
Another big change was our move to Subtracker. We have 350 subs in our district. Last year, our payroll team was processing hundreds of timesheets for them. Now we’re using AESOP to find subs and keep records. In addition to benefiting our staff, automating this process also helps the subs—it’s easy for them to log in to Skyward and view the sub assignment they have been paid for.
Our team now has a roadmap of where we can go with Skyward.  The goal is to implement True Time by the fall of 2018 and eliminate all paper timesheets. We want to empower our employees, giving them access to their own personnel and payroll information.  We see that this is possible and we’re going to give our staff the tools and training they need to make it happen.  


Ready for Round 2 

Our first experience with the Empowerment Program helped us do a lot of digging, and we found many ways we could improve. But now we’re ready for round two! This time, someone will be coming to our district for nine days. Nine solid days for professional development and documentation is one of the best things we can do for our staff. There is always something we can improve on, which is what makes the next round of the Empowerment Program so great. This time around, we will hopefully discover things we didn’t need a year ago and dig deeper into modules we aren’t using to their full potential yet. It’s exciting having used the service; we have high expectations for our second time around!


Words of Advice  

If your district is considering the Empowerment Program, our advice is to start internally with getting your own staff ready. Get your team excited about the program. Make sure they understand why you’re doing it and that you’ll get them all the support they need to make the change.
It’s also important to have strong leadership throughout the process. If you think Skyward is going to come in and fix everything, you’re mistaken. Skyward can point out problems and show you solutions, but you need to have someone or, better yet, a team who will keep things moving forward. It’s a waste of time if you have Skyward come, but then put those recommendations on the shelf.
When Skyward does come to your district, be open-minded and don’t be overwhelmed by the process. You can prioritize the changes they suggest; you don’t need to make them all at once!
The Skyward Empowerment Program is living up to its name. We’re excited to keep refining our processes, empowering our staff, and creating a more enjoyable place for our team to work.
Wondering what the Empowerment Program can do for your district? Contact your account manager or fill out this form and we’ll put you in touch with the right people. 


Barrington CUSD 220 Barrington CUSD 220 Empowered Skyward District
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