An Early Look at Skyward’s 2017 Roadmap John Jennings by John Jennings John Jennings Digital Media Manager Read time: In the wake of our major product announcement at the end of 2016, we want to be as clear as we can with the entire Skyward community regarding timelines, priorities, and preparation. In this article, we’ll review your options for converting to the new system, lay out how our product development team will be handling the transition period, and let you know what you can do to stay up to date on everything that’s happening. The Current System (SMS 2.0) If you take even one piece of information away from this article, it should be that we are not sunsetting the current version of Skyward, nor are we going to eliminate the development team dedicated to the systems you are using. We knew going in that there would be a healthy period of time during which we would have two product lines to support and improve upon. We have no intention of changing that mindset now. This newsletter will be used throughout 2017 to highlight some of the key features being rolled out, including this month’s showcase of our credit card processing updates and new career plans functionality. Here’s what you can expect in the months to come: 2017 Roadmap Mobile Access: Our mobile app remains a top priority in all areas and our product management team is looking at new ways to bring more functionality to the app in 2017. Some items currently under review include: Adding attachments to expense reimbursements directly from your phone’s camera. Time sheet submission. Mobile student ID badges. Attendance submission and notifications. GPA and rank information. Teacher conference scheduling. Mobile food service payments. ↪ Go mobile! Learn more about improving communication and creating on-the-go workflows with the Skyward app. Office and Administration: Efficiency and accessibility are the driving forces behind many of our roadmap items in this area, including: Refined discipline and behavior management data analysis tools. An improved year-end process. WYSIWYG editor for New Student Online Enrollment. More automated emails, including injuries. Classroom and Curriculum: The gradebook features heavily in these projects: Improved academic reporting, including standards reporting within the gradebook. More transparent gradebook log and tracking options. Even more updates to our Career Plans area (see here for some of the most recent). Continued support of our API for integration purposes. Student Services: The majority of our student services enhancements in the next few months are happening inside the mobile app, with one notable exception: Enhancements to section 504, with the primary goal of making it consistent with our Special Education area. Human Resources: A significant amount of development time is dedicated to state-specific compliance requirements and ACA/W2/1099 enhancements, but we’ll also be looking at some improved functionality: More custom forms options, including increased visibility and security. Employee management updates, including additional tracking fields. Business Office: There’s a lot going on in February alone as we continue to work toward an unprecedented level of automation and efficiency in school financial management: Task manager updates, including more customized workflows and safeguards for district processes. Finely tuned budgeting tools, including simplified workflows and the ability to assign employees to the budget process. E-payables processing (not February, but coming soon). The New System (Qmlativ) We’ll be issuing updates on Qmlativ development and transitions milestones throughout the course of this year, but this article will cover the essentials. We’ll speak to features and functionality, but we especially want to make sure you’re aware of the considerations for a move to the new platform. ↪ The future is here. Learn more about Qmlativ. Transitions Because Qmlativ was built from scratch using entirely new technologies and an improved database structure, a move from the current system to the new one is not quite as simple as pressing a button. We’re working hard to program all the necessary state reporting and compliance requirements, which will be the deciding factor as to when each segment of the Skyward community can make the transition. Current phase: Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington. Thanks in large part to the districts that agreed to pilot Qmlativ, much of the work has already been done in these states. Sandbox environments and training (via the PDC) will be provided in advance so you can become comfortable with the system before rolling it out. Next phase: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. These are the states for which reporting and compliance are in development right now. If you’re in this category, we recommend staying focused on what you can do to get more out of the current product while keeping one eye open for updates later this year. Future phases: We’re looking forward to bringing Qmlativ to the entire Skyward community in short order, but there’s still work to be done. If you are not in one of the seven states listed above, it will be business as usual for you in the near-term. Stay tuned for more updates and please take this opportunity to become involved in the ongoing design of our new product by signing up for our User Research Panel. How nice would it be to know that when it comes time for you to migrate to the new product, the experience is already aligned with your needs? Looking ahead: As we move through this growth process, we want you to have all the information you need to make a decision as to when you want to migrate to Qmlativ. The various avenues available for district-specific questions include the Skyward Forum, your account manager, and our transitions team. Product Updates Although Qmlativ is a relatively young product, it has already hit some important milestones, including live production in a school district for two-plus years. We’re also excited to announce that several districts are now using Qmlativ’s fully web-based payroll to cut their checks. Our development for Qmlativ is prioritized by the features and functionality that will benefit at least 80% of our community. Be aware that if you have undergone significant customization or are one of only a few districts using a particular feature, everything might not be available for you right away. That’s why we recommend a one-on-one discussion with your account manager to determine whether your specific needs are aligned with the development status of Qmlativ before you start preparing for the transition. Looking ahead: The stated goal of Qmlativ is to provide a better SIS and ERP experience. In many cases, this aspiration will be aligned with the Skyward you’ve already come to know and love. It’s important to note, however, that not every process will look the same and not all the functionality that exists in Skyward today will be transitioned over to Qmlativ. We’re not aiming to clone the previous system, we’re aiming to improve upon it. This can only happen if we fully leverage the new technologies available to us and look ahead to where school district operations are going, as opposed to where they have been. Stay tuned to the Educator Newsletter for monthly updates and don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below if there’s anything we can do to be even more transparent. John Jennings Digital Media Manager Share this story: Want tips, tricks, and feature updates delivered to your inbox once a month? Sign up here!